Marine Turtle Stranding Network and At-Sea Recovery
Four other marine turtles can also be found in Georgia’s coastal waters – the green, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and hawksbill. All are listed as federally endangered or threatened. With support from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, DNR monitors marine turtle mortality through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. Systematic patrols of barrier island beaches provide information on the number and species of dead turtles that wash up on Georgia beaches. When possible, necropsies of stranded turtles are conducted to evaluate causes of mortality. Periodic aerial surveys are flown to determine distribution and abundance of marine turtles during migration. Sea turtle strandings are the primary index for threats to sea turtles in coastal waters.
In 2011, 175 dead or injured turtles were documented on Georgia beaches, slightly fewer than the 23-year average of 200 strandings per year. One possible explanation for the decline in recent years is DNR’s increased enforcement of turtle excluder device (TED) regulations, and an overall decline in shrimp fishing activity. Not counting dockside inspections, DNR officers made nearly 50 checks for TED compliance on commercial vessels in 2010.
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