Marine Turtle Research
The Marine Turtle Ecology & Assessment Program’s research and conservation efforts primarily focus on four marine turtle species: green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback.
Our green turtle research focuses on demography, genetics, movements, foraging ecology, and health. Most recently, we launched a community science project aimed at studying the green turtles living near La Jolla Shores Cove, just down the street from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA.
Scientists from the Marine Turtle Ecology & Assessment Program conduct annual assessments and research on leatherbacks foraging off the U.S. West Coast to learn more about diving behavior, migration routes, as well as gathering important data on foraging ecology, health, and population structure. The team uses a variety of research methods and technologies for their research, including aerial surveys, in-water capture, turtle-borne video, satellite telemetry, stable isotope analysis, and health assessment.
Our program conducts aerial surveys to estimate loggerhead abundance and deploy satellite transmitters on loggerheads caught off southern California to determine their movements and habitat use. With loggerhead presence in offshore waters of southern California a natural focus is to try and limit their interactions with commercial fisheries efforts.
Our researchers are actively engaged with partners throughout the eastern Pacific to study hawksbills using in-water capture efforts, genetic and stable isotope analyses, and satellite telemetry to study demography, population structure, trophic status, habitat use, and migratory connectivity.