A project of Mote Marine Laboratory in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.
A number of long-term tagging studies have been conducted to characterize aggregations of marine turtles in nearshore areas of western Florida, but information gaps still exist along the extensive west coast. These gaps are of importance as this region represents developmental habitat that is critical to the viability of the endangered Kempís ridley turtle. Mote Marine Laboratory has collected extensive sighting data and conducted field surveys to study the in-water ecology of marine turtles in the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary. These surveys have documented habitat partitioning among the species and identified certain areas in estuarine complex as foraging habitat for Kempís ridleys, but efforts have been hampered by the after effects of hurricanes and the ineffectiveness of set nets in capturing turtles. Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory are currently collaborating on in-water studies to characterize marine turtle aggregations inhabiting eastern Pine Island Sound using active fishing methods (i.e., strike netting).
Kemp's ridley turtles in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico exhibit seasonal occurrence in nearshore waters and satellite telemetry has been used to investigate their winter migration along the west coast of Florida. Similar studies are needed to determine their seasonal distribution and possible migrations in the relatively warmer waters of the southwestern Florida. Locational data from satellite telemetry can also be used to assess the potential impacts from storm water management in upland areas (i.e., release of Lake Okeechobee water via Caloosahatchee River), harmful algal blooms in nearshore and offshore waters (i.e., red tide events), as well as interactions with fisheries and petroleum exploration/extraction in offshore waters. Tracking efforts will provide a better understanding of how Kempís ridleys use Charlotte Harbor estuary and surrounding waters.
Research activities are conducted under NMFS permit #13544 and FFWCC permit #136.
A red tide bloom affected southwest Florida from September 2011 through January 2012. The highest concentrations were in the Gulf waters south of Sanibel Island and a number of Kemp's ridley turtles stranded in this area. Another red tide bloom has affected the area since October 2012. Low to moderate concentrations of the toxic algae have been recorded in Pine Island Sound with higher concentrations alongshore and offshore Sanibel Island. Updates on the status of Florida red tides are available at the following:
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Mote Marine Laboratory
NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/species/turtles/
This project was supported in part by grants awarded to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org
Our sincere thanks to the generous support provided by the following:
Naples Best Addresses at www.naplesbestaddresses.com
Turtle Club Restaurant at http://www.windwardhospitality.com/naples/index.html
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation at www.sccf.org
The Brooks Fishing Club at brooksfishingclub.com
National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation
Christopher and Jeannie Smith
David and Vicky Smith
Wayne and Rebecca Meland
Thomas and Vickie Snead
Richard and Beverly Smith