Marine Debris Survey at two Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches
Out the estimated 100 million marine animals that have died from being entangled in debris or ingest garbage they mistake for food, 86% are sea turtles. Beach debris also interferes with nesting attempts, incubating eggs, and hatchlings journey to the ocean. We have developed a groundbreaking protocol that quantifies coastal pollution buildup using the NOAA Marine Debris protocol combined with turtle track surveys to determine the spatial and temporal coincidence of terrestrial nesting activities and pollution. This information helps managers prioritize areas for pollution prevention, clean up, and rescue/rehabilitation of turtles. We will train and supervise three college interns to collect data at two important olive ridley nesting beaches in Mexico - Mayto and Naranjo. Interns will also protect female turtles and eggs and remove all the trash on the beach during this period to protect turtle habitat and the nearby estuaries. Sea World will be recognized locally and internationally for its efforts to protect wild turtles through academic conferences and various media. Because this project mentors students and protects turtles and turtle habitat, it aligns well with four Sea World grant priorities - Animal Rescue/Rehab: Anti Poaching and Sea Turtles, Conservation Education: Leadership Development, and Habitat Protection: Marine/Aquatic Debris.