I am glad to report that the Hawksbill Project has been very productive this summer! As was detailed in the previous post, any opportunity to retrieve and reuse a satellite transmitter from one of our study turtles is very beneficial (both data-wise and expense-wise), and we were fortunate enough, after a number of searches, to come across two more units that had been deployed since late July 2012, carried by two of the familiar young hawksbills living on different but nearby portions of the “Breakers” reef tract (see photo). It’s great to get full compliments of data concerning the movements and dive behaviors of these young hawksbills for a whole year! Really great information, and though its a lot of work to organize it all, the results and reports are slowly coming together, and I’m looking forward to presenting them.
Most interesting I think is the close relationship these young turtles maintain with relatively small sections of the reef environment. Rather than foraging far and wide for resources, these individuals prefer to stick very close to a home-base, and repeatedly explore relatively small areas of reef for what may be more than a decade. Not only does this behavior help us gauge the overall resource availability in this habitat for young hawksbills, it also reveals where the most productive patches of reef, from the turtle’s perspective, are located. The data we collect from the transmitters help reconstruct otherwise unseen patterns of movement and behavior, and bring us one step closer to understanding what features of Palm Beach County’s reefs are particularly important to hawksbill turtles, and how we might be able keep them that way.
I was also able to re-deploy one of the previous transmitters on a ‘new’ turtle, this time at the Corridor site just NE of the Lake Worth Inlet. Now known as Amelia (see photo, on blue tarp), this is the second individual found at that dive site to carry a transmitter, and the 6th one all together in the larger study site. This deployment completes this phase of the study, and I look forward to expanding the tracking effort to both additional locations and additional size-classes, particularly the adults that are seen on the deeper reefs of northern Palm Beach County.
Many thanks go to Nikole Ordway and the Hammerhead Dive Club/ Force-E Dive Shop, Pura Vida Dive Shop, Narcosis Divers, and Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures for their continued support to help raise funds and awareness, and of course to get me where I need to go out there to find the turtles!