How Does STPS Contribute to Sea Turtle Research?
At one of our STPS monthly meetings earlier this year, Nest Surveys Permit Holder Dori Hughes announced our latest sea turtle nest counts. Then, one of the meeting’s attendees asked, “Who do you report all your nest count data to?” Great question! The answer is Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
We work closely with FWC which issues Marine Turtle Permits (MTPs) to us. These permits allow us to conduct nest surveys and night walks; respond to reports of injured or deceased sea turtles; rescue hatchlings, post-hatchlings and adults; and transport them to permitted rehabilitation facilities. All the data collected by our volunteers during these activities is reported to FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) which uses it to help reduce the effects of human activities on sea turtles and identify areas in Florida that need additional protection.
What types of data does STPS collect? In addition to nest counts, we conduct nest inventories during hatchling emergence on approximately 20% of the nests in our two-mile stretch of Cocoa Beach and calculate the success rate. Additionally, in a stranding event, we evaluate and document the sea turtle’s wounds. If a sea turtle is deceased, we photograph, measure, and assess for possible causes of death. All of these findings are reported to FWRI.
STPS is part of a large network of MTP holders who collect information for sea turtle research and conservation. Permit holders include local governments, federal agencies, the Florida Park Service, private conservation groups like STPS, rehabilitation facilities, university researchers, and private citizens. Together, all of us are contributing to scientific knowledge about sea turtles to help them survive.
To learn more about STPS programs, visit the following websites.