Saving Sea Turtles in the Bahamas with Earthwatch

by Earthwatch Institute
Vetted
A sea turtle is captured for measurements
A sea turtle is captured for measurements

Greetings! We are nearing the end of Earthwatch’s Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas’ second research season. So far, 6 teams made up of 74 volunteers have travelled to the Bahamas to work alongside Dr. Annabelle Brooks as she collects data on endangered sea turtles, so that we may understand how best to protect them from extinction. Two more teams of up to 24 volunteers will round out the 2015 season, which concludes in November.

Spanning 9 months, Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas is one of Earthwatch's longest and busiest studies, epitomizing the critical need for ongoing support from generous donors like you. Complex conservation problems are not solved overnight, and Earthwatch is committed to supporting research for as long as is needed to implement sustainable solutions, from a few years to a few decades.

Thank you again for your ongoing support that makes long-term research like this possible. We look forward to sharing more results and updates with you after the 2015 season concludes.

With gratitude,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org
978-450-1208 

P.S. Remember, you don't just have to read about this research from afar... you can be at the center of the action as an Earthwatch research volunteer! Please follow the link below to see which teams are still accepting volunteers for 2015 and 2016.

Measuring an endangered sea turtle
Measuring an endangered sea turtle
Headed to "the office" for a day of field research
Headed to "the office" for a day of field research
Surveying the sea floor of turtle habitat
Surveying the sea floor of turtle habitat
A sea turtle awaits measurements
A sea turtle awaits measurements
Bahamas sunset
Bahamas sunset

Links:

Dr. Brooks points out a sea turtle
Dr. Brooks points out a sea turtle

This February, Earthwatch’s Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas research expedition dove into its second year of data collection. We expect close to 100 volunteers to participate in the research this year, including two teams of energetic teens who are considering pursuing the sciences as a career path. We will begin sharing results from this year’s research later in the year. In the meantime, here’s a message from Dr. Annabelle Brooks as she looks back on 2014:

          "Many thanks to you all for your support in this first year of our study. 92 Earthwatch volunteers came to South Eleuthera and assisted us in tagging 88 new turtles, in 5 locations as well as 60 abundance surveys, and 199 baited video surveys! Our habitat mapping project, although a tedious task, has resulted in close to 1,000 data points and we are in the process of creating digital high resolution maps of all our sites which will be a great help for our continuing studies. From the BRUV surveys we’ve recorded at least 6 different species of shark – but just as exciting were the swimming crabs, stingrays and turtles we also managed to capture!

          We had quite a variety of field conditions from “chilly” winter temperatures to a blazing hot summer and the odd storm and tropical depression but every team was able to contribute to our large study and we’re very grateful for that. Some personal highlights were catching our first hawksbill turtle in Half Sound, seeing an attempted predation on a turtle by a shark right before our very eyes in Winding Bay, and watching Cassidy (our Bahamian research intern Sept – Dec) finally get into the water and nearly catch her first turtle after several months of swimming lessons! Thank you all for making this a fantastic first year and I’ll keep you updated as we head into the second.   

          Best wishes,  
         
          Annabelle Brooks 
         Cape Eleuthera Institute"


None of these accomplishments would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a caring and committed conservationist. On behalf of Dr. Brooks, our volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for sea turtle rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates later this year!

With gratitude,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org
978-450-1208

P.S. Remember, you don't just have to read about this exciting research from afar... you can dive right in yourself as an Earthwatch research volunteer! Please follow the link below to see which teams are still accepting volunteers. 

Seine netting for turtles at the creek mouth
Seine netting for turtles at the creek mouth
Caught one! A volunteer guides turtle to boat.
Caught one! A volunteer guides turtle to boat.
Every turtle is measured...
Every turtle is measured...
... and weighed.
... and weighed.

Links:

Surveying for turtles in mangroves
Surveying for turtles in mangroves

Thank you for supporting and following along with Earthwatch’s sea turtle conservation efforts in the Bahamas! Dr. Annabelle Brooks and her team will resume their research off Cape Eleuthera with the help of Earthwatch volunteers from June – November 2015. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share with you now some preliminary highlights from the data collected in 2014:

  • 92 volunteers helped tag 172 turtles (including 88 NEW turtles) across 7 foraging locations. They also conducted 60 abundance surveys (plotting turtles using GPS), and 199 baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS).

  • The BRUVS captured at least six different species of sharks, which are known to prey on turtles.

  • Close to 1,000 data points were collected as part of a habitat mapping project, which will be used to create high resolution maps of all research sites.

  • All turtles that had been captured before were captured in the same site as their first capture. Dr. Brooks says, “It has been remarkable to observe how attached they are to specific areas… This highlights how important it is to understand the dynamics within foraging grounds, and also how critical this habitat is for their survival.”

In addition to providing data for Dr. Brooks’ research, Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas also contributes conservation-relevant data for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which includes the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

None of this data collection would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a concerned conservationist. On behalf of our scientists, volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for sea turtle rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates after the 2015 fielding season begins in June!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

P.S. Remember, you don’t just have to read about this research from afar… you can participate in it directly as a volunteer! Our 2015 teams are still accepting volunteers. Visit Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas to learn more about daily life on the ocean as a turtle biologist, or to take the plunge and reserve your spot as a volunteer today!

A volunteer assists with flipper tagging
A volunteer assists with flipper tagging
Spotting turtles
Spotting turtles

Links:

“Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas” kicked off its 2014 research season on February 13th with a team of 9 spirited and eager volunteers who travelled to Cape Eleuthera to help Dr. Annabelle Brooks collect data on the endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles. At the time of our last report, in June, we were expecting just over 60 volunteers to participate throughout the season. However, I’m thrilled to report that we’ve already surpassed this number, and now expect that more than 90 volunteers will have  contributed to this research by the time Dr. Brooks concludes her field research for the year, in mid-November!

In addition to a well-earned break for the holidays, Dr. Brooks will spend the months that follow analyzing the data that was collected. We will be sure to share those outcomes with you as soon as they become available in 2015.

Although Earthwatch volunteers do contribute financially to the research they participate in, the cost of scientific equipment, permits and licenses, and 24/7 support staff quickly exceeds what we can reasonably ask them to contribute on top of their time and labor. This is why donors like YOU are so critical to Earthwatch’s success! Your proactive gifts bridge this funding gap and make it possible to conduct world class citizen science research in nearly 30 countries around the world.

Your support also allows Earthwatch to make multi-year commitments to innovative new studies and to highly skilled, emerging scientists that are often overlooked by other funders. In 2015, Earthwatch will debut ten new expeditions! That’s ten new scientists, dozens more species, and hundreds more volunteers who will join the fight to create a sustainable future – all made possible only because of generous gifts like yours.  

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of Earthwatch’s turtle conservation in the Bahamas! None of this work would be possible without the commitment and generosity of donors like you!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org

Links:

“Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas” kicked off its 2014 research season on February 13th with a team of 9 spirited and eager volunteers. A second team of 8 volunteers arrived on April 10th to continue monitoring and data collection.

Turtle activity is strongest in the mid-summer to fall months, and this is when the majority of data collection will take place. The next teams of Earthwatch volunteers are due to arrive in the field at the end of June, and will consist of two dozen teenagers. Earthwatch reserves portions of many of its programs specifically for teens, who will receive a modified curriculum designed to enhance their learning experience, and provide them with additional resources they can use as they decide their future plans for higher education and careers. Earthwatch has a notable track record of inspiring teens to pursue science careers, including some who have gone on to become Earthwatch scientists themselves!

The 2014 research season in the Bahamas will conclude with a flurry of activity from 5 consecutive teams of volunteers from August 22nd – November 16th, with each team joining the research for 10 days. At this time, we expect that more than 60 volunteers will have participated and more than $150,000 will have been raised to support the many costs of this critical research, ranging from boat maintenance, to field and lab equipment, to room and board for the volunteers.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of Earthwatch’s turtle conservation work in the Bahamas! None of this work would be possible without the commitment and generosity of donors like you!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox

 

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Earthwatch Institute

Location: Boston, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.earthwatch.org
Project Leader:
Joanna Freed
Boston, MA United States

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