Friday, August 12, 2011

MSI: Bermuda Sea Turtle Project

On Friday, the Marine Science Interns were given the opportunity to help out with the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) and the Bermuda Sea Turtle project. The Bermuda Sea Turtle Project's mission statement is, “To promote the conservation of marine turtles through research and education.” Here is a brief synopsis of the day from Eliza Gardner, one of the MSI interns:

"In order to collect the green sea turtles, the BAMZ crew released a large circular net into the ocean. The turtles would swim into this net and become trapped. After that, two members of the BAMZ crew would collect the turtle from the net and give it to other members of the crew who were circling the nets on boats. We were able to assist the BAMZ crew by taking some turtles onto our boat and transporting them to the Endurance, BAMZ’s boat. On the boat, the turtles were laid on their backs. When in this position the turtles cannot move. Iodine is applied underneath the turtle’s armpits to clean the surface of their skin where the tag is going to be applied. The turtle tagger then applies a tag to both of the turtle’s armpits. Blood is then drawn from the turtle in order to take a DNA sample. From this they can learn where the turtle has come from. I enjoyed today’s activities very much. Seeing the turtle tagging process was absolutely fascinating."

The interns had researched the importance of the Sargasso sea (where Bermuda is located) to Green Sea Turtle conservation and research efforts prior to their experience working with the turtles. They had learned that Green sea turtles spend their juvenile years in Bermuda arriving approximately 25 cm wide and leaving to nest when they reach 75 cm. Young Sea Turtles use seaweed in the Sargasso Sea to camouflage themselves from predators. There are two main nesting areas for the green sea turtle: the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. The Atlantic nesting area includes the Caribbean, Brazil, and the west coast of Africa. The Indo-Pacific nesting area includes Mexico, Hawaii, Northern Australia, and Southeast Asia.

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