Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Program
Alabama nesting population study as part of NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment)
Starting in the 2011 sea turtle nesting season, there is a plan in place to fit up to 15 female sea turtles that have nested in Alabama with satellite tracking devices. These devices will report the movement of the turtle for the next 18 to 24 months depending on battery life.
The process: Under a permit issued by the USF&WS, a special team lead by Kristen Hart, USGS, patrol the Alabama beaches at night looking for the nesting sea turtles. When the team finds one nesting they remain quiet until she has completed the nest and is on her way back to the water. As the turtle nears the waters edge, Kristen's team quickly corrals the turtle with a portable enclosure. Working with speed that comes from experience the team begins taking measurements and tissue samples and cleaning off a spot on the carapace, the top shell of the turtle, to place the tracking device. When the site is ready the satellite tag is attached with high strength epoxy. They can see from the small LED flashing inside the translucent housing of the tag that it is transmitting properly. When the epoxy has hardened the enclosure is opened and the turtle makes its way to the water.
Go to the tracking site
Photos courtesy of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.