LOGGERHEAD ACOUSTIC STUDY
- EXPANDED -
We are excited to announce funding awarded by the Sea Turtle Grants Program provided by sales of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate to further our acoustic telemetry study tracking the movements of subadult Loggerhead Sea Turtles using the artificial reefs off the central east coast of Florida. Funds help support equipment upgrades to our receiver array that tracks multiple species of sharks, fishes, manta rays, and turtles. We also will increase our loggerhead tracking sample size to gain a better understanding of their behavior and movement patterns. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org
East Coast Biologists loggerhead acoustic study focuses on how loggerheads interact with artificial (mitigation) reefs off the east coast of central Florida. These artificial reefs were installed to mitigate potential habitat loss of nearshore reefs which has provided not only juvenile green turtles with an alternative place to forage and shelter, but created a habitat for many other species such as eels, lobster, nurse sharks, and possibly subadult loggerheads.
Each loggerhead ECB captures will be fitted with an acoustic transmitter that emits a series of sounds to underwater receivers. This allows ECB to track their movements and how they interact with the artificial reefs, whether they are resident or transient turtle just passing through.
Thank you to The National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation for funding provided to support our initial loggerhead tracking research “Determining the foraging and movement behavior of subadult loggerhead turtles using artificial reefs in east central Florida waters”. This is the first study of its kind and we fully appreciate the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation’s shared interest in our research and opportunity to promote the conservation of this protected species.
Named for its fiery personality, Firestorm is a large subadult loggerhead that was initially captured and tagged on the same southernmost artificial reef site as Jade in December 2021.
The smallest and arguably the most charismatic loggerhead of the acoustic study so far is Winnie-the-Pooh or Winnie for short. With a straight carapace length of 46 cm, Winnie is substantially smaller than other subadult loggerhead turtles encountered in this area.
After being tagged in May 2022, this loggerhead spent only a few days on the artificial reefs before swimming south to Sebastian Inlet.
Jade is a subadult loggerhead turtle and a shark attack survivor that was hand-captured on the southernmost artificial reef site of the Brevard County study area in August 2021. After leaving the artificial reef, Jade was detected on a receiver 21 days later located at Sebastian Inlet. Jade went through the inlet and into the Indian River Lagoon, traveling south and exiting out of the lagoon at the St. Lucie Inlet in October 2021. Jade kept going, traveling south along the coast for the next two months, making a few pit stops at Jupiter Inlet, Palm Beach Inlet, and Key Biscayne before arriving at Card Sound in December 2021. Jade’s track is pretty amazing, especially considering that he/she is missing parts of its front flippers and has other healed wounds from an obvious shark attack. Of all the acoustic tagged turtles, Jade has traveled the furthest.
10 AUG 2021
31 AUG 2021
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
ST. LUCIE INLET
1 OCT 2021
4 OCT 2021
PALM BEACH INLET
8 OCT 2021
19 NOV 2021
13 DEC 2021
The loggerheads tracked in this initial study have shown diverse movement patterns. Except for Firestorm, most turtles appear to be transiting through the reef and surrounding areas of Brevard County - possibly just using the reefs as a temporary pit stop for resting and foraging. This study is the first study of its kind to track subadult loggerheads using the nearshore and artificial reefs in east Florida. The acoustic tags have a battery life of approximately 10 years. The longer the tracking tags stay on the turtles, the more insightful the data and information gathered will be to help us learn where these immature animals go and the habitats (natural and/or artificial) they prefer. Only time will tell!