Various institutions, including the Campus Gandia of the Universitat Politècnica de València, are collaborating on a project involving satellite monitoring of juvenile loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) from breeding programs of the clutches found in the Spanish Mediterranean basin. The ultimate goal is to understand the behavior of this species to establish marine planning strategies for their protection, since loggerhead turtles are under threat. According to the team of scientists, the main risks encountered by the turtles in the Mediterranean are problems of anthropogenic origin, such as fishing or accidental ingestion of plastics, as well as the effects of climate change
The project launched in 2015 with the marking of eight specimens from the loggerhead turtle clutch found in San Juan (Alicante). In 2016, on June 16th World Sea Turtle Day, 12 turtles were released into the sea at Playa de las Palmeras, in Almería, where they were hatched ten months earlier. Four of the specimens, measuring between 15 and 20 centimeters in length and weighing between 700 and a 1000 grams, have satellite transmitters attached that will track their movements and habits. You can follow the turtles’ movements and locations on this blog as well as www.seaturtle.org.
The equipment is pioneer in satellite tracking of juvenile loggerhead in the Mediterranean under the age of one year, and there are very few studies of this kind in the world. This way they can collect information about the habits of the turtles during the majoritiy of their lifetime, not just when they are adults.
COLLABORATION AMONG INSTITUTIONS
Collaborating on the project are the Universitat de València doctors Ohiana Revuelta and Jesus Tomas, sea turtle specialists with previous experience in marking and satellite telemetry tracking of these species in the western Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas.
It should be noted that the UPV- UV team has been collaborating for a number of years in the marking of the turtles, both in the technical aspects and the funding of the transmitters.
Also participating in this project a team scientists from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) directed by Adolfo Marco, the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Junta de Andalucía; the CEGMA of Algeciras and the Aquarium of Seville. Participating from the Valencia region are the Department of Environment of the Generalitat Valenciana and the Valencian NGO Xaloc, who have been permanent collaborators throughout the marking process during the last few years.
UPV GRADUATE STUDENTS COLLABORATE IN THE STUDY
The data collected in the release of these turtles will be analyzed in the doctoral thesis of research scientist Sara Abalo, graduate of the Master Degree Program in Environmental Assessment and Monitoring of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems at the UPV Gandia, and collaborator of the team led by Eduardo Belda. In her thesis, titled “Distribution and Habitat Use of the Loggerhead Turtle in the Mediterranean: Implications for Marine Planning Strategy”, she will study the behavior of young turtles in the Mediterranean, evaluating parameters such as dispersal, habitat use, seasonality on our shores and migratory routes to the breeding sites, with the aim of contributing to marine planning and management.
Antonio Febrer is also collaborating on the project by analyzing data for his Thesis Project in the same Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Masters degree program.
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