HUMAN ACTIVITIES INCLUDING COASTAL INDUSTRIALISATION, INCREASED SHIPPING AND PLASTIC POLLUTION ARE PUTTING SEA TURTLES IN DANGER. ASSESSING THE HEALTH OF WILD ANIMAL POPULATIONS HAS PROVEN CHALLENGING FOR MANY MARINE SPECIES; AND WITHOUT INFORMATION ON THE ABILITY OF A POPULATION TO SURVIVE AND PRODUCE OFFSPRING, MANAGEMENT PLANS AND ACTIONS TO PROTECT WILD POPULATIONS AT RISK ARE HINDERED. CURRENTLY THERE ARE NO METHODS TO ASSESS BODY COMPOSITION OF SEA TURTLES IN THE FIELD. WORK WITH EARTHWATCH SCIENTISTS TO INVESTIGATE SEA TURTLE HEALTH AND COLLECT CRUCIAL DATA TO CONSERVE THESE WONDROUS CREATURES.

On this project, Earthwatch scientists will be testing an alternative and low-invasive method to assess how well green sea turtle populations are doing in northern Queensland by looking at the animal’s fat, lean mass, and water ratio. This is called a “body composition assessment” using a portable bioelectrical impedance analyser (BIA). This method is commonly used to measure human body composition and it could prove very useful as currently more specific technical equipment is not yet available. Additionally, this project will examine contaminants in the blood and diet of sea turtles by analysing blood and seagrass samples. Participants will assist in capturing turtles from small boats, assessing turtle health on the beach and collecting seagrass samples in the shallows. 

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Location

Magnetic Island and Bowen, QLD

Cost

$2795, includes accommodation, meals, transfers, insurance and research activities

Duration

7 days

Dates

2019

29 September-5 October (Bowen)

3-9 November (Bowen)

24-30 November (Magnetic Island)

2020

31 May-6 June (Magnetic Island)

21-27 June (Bowen)

6-12 September (Magnetic Island)

4-10 October (Bowen)

Activity Level

Very Active

Lead Scientist

Sara Kophamel, James Cook University