Human activities are putting sea turtles in danger. Work with Earthwatch scientists to assess sea turtle health and collect crucial data to support better management strategies to conserve these wondrous creatures.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world, spanning over 2000 Km (~1250 miles). This stunning seascape is an international icon, not only for its unique corals, but also for the huge diversity of plants and animals that rely on the reef, including sea turtles. But the reef is being increasingly threatened by industrial runoff, overfishing, and a warming climate. This decline is affecting many of the animals that depend on the reef as well, leaving once bustling ecosystems barren and lifeless.
Assessing the health of wild animal populations has proven challenging for many marine species; and without information on the ability of a population to survive and produce offspring (also called ‘fitness’ or ‘physiological performance’), management plans and actions to protect wild populations at risk are hindered. Currently there are no methods to assess body composition of sea turtles in the field and assessing the health of marine animal populations has proven difficult. On this project, Earthwatch scientists will be developing an alternative, minimally-invasive and easy method to assess how well green sea turtle populations are doing in northern Queensland, by looking at their ratios of fat, lean mass, and water. This assessment is called a “body composition assessment” and it will provide a means to assess the proportion of muscle, fat, and water—using a portable bioelectrical impedance analyser (BIA) (commonly used to measure human body composition) of turtles in the field, where more specific technical equipment is not yet available. Additionally, this project will examine contaminants in the blood and diet of sea turtles by analyzing blood and seagrass samples.
The data will help researchers to determine how healthy turtle populations are and determined where there are “areas of risk” for sea turtles.
Join us on this testing these revolutionary method and learn about green sea turtle biology, conservation, and health issues, whilst experiencing first-hand what you can do to protect this endangered species.