JUVENILE GREEN TURTLE
One of the greatest threats to the recovery of threatened and endangered sea turtle species is the loss of adequate habitat necessary for foraging, shelter, and refuge from predators. The focus of the current acoustic study is to determine if and how juvenile green turtles use recently deployed (2019) artificial reefs that were designed to mitigate possible impacts to nearshore reef habitat caused by beach nourishment as part of Brevard County's Beach Restoration Project. This study examines the viability of using artificial reefs to help mitigate for sea turtle habitat impacted by shoreline restoration and beach nourishment activities.
Mitigation reefs were built in advance of the Project, which while enhancing the nesting beach habitat for marine turtles, will inadvertently bury a portion of inter-tidal and shallow subtidal (0-3m water depth) hardbottom reef habitat used by juvenile green turtles. The mitigation reefs (installed in approximately 5 m water depth) were purposefully designed to provide suitable substrate for the attachment and growth of foraging resources (macroalgae) and create refuge (ledges) for small size-class green turtles (mean ~30 cm SCL). During preliminary observations, juvenile green as well as loggerhead (adult and subadult life stages) sea turtles were seen on and around the mitigation reefs. Data from these studies help inform coastal managers and policymakers on the effectiveness of artificial reef design and structure for sea turtles.