Florida Hawksbill Project at Palm Beach Zoo
On Tuesday, Palm Beach Zoo Biologist Larry Wood climbed on board Deep Obsession in search of hawksbill sea turtles with hopes of attaching transmitters to at least one turtle.
Within 3 minutes of our first dive on Breakers I spotted a young hawksbill swimming over the reef. Larry calmly approached and was able to capture the little gal (we assumed “she” was female since there are generally more female turtles in the population and they tend to be more feisty!)
Once we had the turtle on board, measurements and shell preparation began. The carapace (dorsal shell) must be completely dry prior to transmitter application. It must also be slightly “buffed” to allow for adhesion. While her carapace was prepared by Kelly (biologist from the Loggerhead Marinelife Center), Larry took measurements of her width, length, head, and many other features. This little turtle had been captured and tagged approximately one year ago and has grown 6cm since…she must be finding plenty to eat!
After the turtle’s carapace had dried, Larry and Kelly applied the special glue/epoxy to the transmitter and placed it high on the turtle’s back. The glue takes about 1 1/2 hours to dry so Larry stayed on board with the newly named “Cassidy” while the rest of us went in search of another hawksbill on Flower Gardens.
One of Larry’s long-time, dedicated assistants Kay captured our next hawksbill named “Delilah.” This turtle was a lot calmer and made the transmitter application process run smoothly. Both turtles were returned to their capture sites and happily swam home.
Larry reports today that both transmitters are transmitting successfully!!! Hopefully we will be able to watch where Cassidy and Delilah hang out along the Palm Beaches and perhaps view their travel outside of Florida waters.
*Please remember that all of the people shown handling these turtles are authorized to do so under a permit. It is illegal to pursue, touch, or harass these animals in the wild. Hawksbill sea turtles are protected by State and Federal Law.