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					ENDANGERED FLORIDA SEA TURTLES

By John McLeod
8/12/2008 1

Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Topics of Discussion
 

General Facts Different Types
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Hawksbill Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Leatherback Turtle

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Human Impact on Turtles Ways You Can Help Sea Turtles
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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles
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Thousands of sea turtles call Florida home
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Adapted to a life at sea Females nest on sandy beaches Hatchlings must fend for themselves

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Few Natural enemies but many manmade enemies

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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Different Types

Hawksbill

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Hawksbill
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Biological Characteristics Small to medium size Hatchlings Characteristics that differ from other sea turtles Different habitats Nesting

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Hawksbill
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Biological Characteristics

Utilize different habitats  Posthatchling hawksbills occupy pelagic environment

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Reenter coastal waters Use nesting beaches

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Hawksbill
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Biological Characteristics Recruited into reef environment
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Hawksbill
General Information
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Still endangered Solitary nester Commercial exploitation is cause of downfall Continuing demand for its shell Japan had been importing shells
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Hawksbill
SIGHTINGS
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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Different Types

Kemp’s Ridley

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Kemp’s Ridley
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Biological Characteristics Smallest of all extant turtles Shells almost wide as they are long Coloration changes during development

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Kemp’s Ridley
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Biological Characteristics 2 pairs of prefrontal scales on the head Males resemble the females in size, coloration
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Kemp’s Ridley
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Biological Characteristics Males have a longer tail, more distal vent, recurved claws, during breeding a softened midplastron
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Kemp’s Ridley
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Biological Characteristics Feed on sargassum, infauna, or other epipelagic species In post-pelagic stages, it is largely a crab-eater Sexual maturity age not known 14

Kemp’s Ridley
General Information
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Listed as endangered throughout its range Population has declined  In 1947, 42,000 females nested in one day  In mid 1980’s, 1000
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Kemp’s Ridley
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General Information
Decline is due to human activities:  Collection of eggs  Fishing for juveniles and adults  Killing adults for meat Subject to high levels of incidental take by 16 shrimp trawlers

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Kemp’s Ridley
General Information
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Population appears to be in recovery Increased attributed to two factors:  Full protection of nesting females  Requirement to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawls 17

Kemp’s Ridley
SIGHTINGS
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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Different Types

Loggerhead

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Loggerhead
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Biological Characteristics Adult average weight = 253 lbs Average weight at hatching = .6 oz. Maturity reached between 16-40 years
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Loggerhead
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Biological Characteristics Mating takes place in late March-early June Eggs laid throughout the summer
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Loggerhead
General Information  Listed as threatened throughout its range  In Florida, number of nesting females is stable
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Loggerhead
General Information  Nesting subpopulations in the western North Atlantic have been identified based on genetic research:  The Northern Subpopulation producing approximately 6,200 nests/year from North Carolina to Northeast Florida  The South Florida Subpopulation, occurs from the north of Cape Hatteras on the east coast of Florida and extending up to Naples on the West Coast
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Loggerhead
General Information
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Increase in numbers of adult loggerheads in Florida waters Nesting trends are declining Coastal development, commercial fisheries, and pollution are threats to loggerheads

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Loggerhead
SIGHTINGS
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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Different Types

Green Turtle

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Green Turtle
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Biological Characteristics Hatchlings weigh about .75 oz Adults may reach a size of 1 m long Age at sexual maturity is estimated at 20-50 years
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Green Turtle
General Information  200-1,100 females nest on US beaches  Number of nests has increased on Hutchinson Island, FL during 19711989
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Green Turtle
General Information
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Listed as endangered/ threatened Breeding populations are endangered Greatest cause in decline in population:  Commercial harvest for eggs and food
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Green Turtle
SIGHTINGS
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Endangered Florida Sea Turtles

Different Types

Leatherback

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Leatherback
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Biological Characteristics Largest living turtle Hatchlings average 1.3 oz in weight Age at sexual maturity not known

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Leatherback
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General Information
Endangered throughout its range Nesting trends appear stable, but population faces threats One of the largest nesting assemblages is found in Florida

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Leatherback
SIGHTINGS
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SeaTurtles
HUMAN IMPACT
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Nesting Environment
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Erosion of nesting beaches can result in loss of nesting habitat Beach nourishment during nesting season buries nests and disturbs nesting turtles The use of off-road vehicles can result in decreased hatchling success due to sand compaction, or directly kill hatchlings
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Sea Turtles
HUMAN IMPACT
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Marine Environment  Turtles eat a variety of marine debris  Turtles are at risk when encountering an oil spill
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WAYS YOU CAN HELP SEA TURTLES
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Never approach turtles emerging from the sea or disturb or harass nesting turtles Watch out for disoriented hatchlings or turtles wandering on the road When you register your boat, purchase a sea turtle sticker Become informed about environmental issues and spread the word to others Never buy products made from sea turtles
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Florida Department of Natural Resources

or Florida Marine Patrol 1 800 DIAL FMP (342-5367)
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