Dr. Wood’s fascinating studies on the critically endangered hawksbills sea turtles, who spend part of their lives in Palm Beach, has help shed the light on an important part of the life history of these endearing sea turtles. The weekend included his very educational presentation on the hawksbill sea turtles, a morning beach sea turtle walk, and scuba diving alongside Dr. Larry Wood as he conducted his field research for the Florida Hawksbills Project and The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation.
Friday evening we were treated to his education presentation on his studies of the hawksbills sea turtles. Topics included the importance of our Palm Beach reefs for these sea turtles, behavior patterns he has learned from his flipper and satellite tagging project, food sources, and much more.
The next morning we accompanied Dr. Wood on a morning beach turtle walk to learn about the importance of our beaches for numerous sea turtle species. We learned to identify the different sea turtle tracks and how we can help protect our nesting sea turtles.
Sunday afternoon a group of divers followed along watching Dr. Larry Wood at work in the field. While diving on Breaker’s reef, the group watched him capture** a hawksbill sea turtle in order to acquire measurement data, take identification photos, and attach identifying tags back on the boat before safely returning the hawksbill to the location he found him on the reef.
Of course, the little hawksbill sea turtle couldn’t leave us without being properly named. Because Katie, our fearless deckhand and Dr. Wood’s assistant, was so instrumental in helping Dr. Wood bring the sea turtle onboard the boat, and carefully held the turtle while Dr. Wood acquired the necessary data, we decided the turtle would be named after her. Not knowing whether the hawksbill was a boy or girl, we thought the name Agent K would be more appropriate for this little hawksbill sea turtle.
On the second dive, Dr. Wood came across a previously tagged hawksbill sea turtle on Midreef. During this encounter he was able to document important sponge feeding behavior. Since this was a previously tagged hawksbill, he did not need to capture it and simply wrote down the tag number on its flippers. Once back on the boat he was able to tell us that this hawksbill was originally tagged back in 2009. Even more fascinating was the fact that we encountered this hawksbill sea turtle not far from Spearman’s Barge where it was originally captured back in 2009. As previously mentioned in Dr. Larry Wood’s presentation, these hawksbill sea turtles appear to stay within a specific area of the reef. For over 6 years in this case!
We would like to extend a very special thanks to Dr. Larry Wood for sharing his wonderful knowledge of these sea turtles with us and to the support of the Florida Hawksbills Project and The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation. We would also like to thank everyone who joined us for a terrific weekend. We hope you will share your knowledge of Dr. Wood’s studies with others in the hopes of bringing to light the importance of these critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles and the coral reef of Palm Beach, Florida.
We hope you will join us next time when we host Dr. Larry Wood for another fascinating Sea Turtle Education Weekend.
*** WARNING ***
All sea turtles are protected on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under NO circumstances should you ever harass, ride, or otherwise disturb a sea turtle. Severe penalties including jail time will be imposed. The handling of this critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle was done under a Florida state permit provided to The Florida Hawksbill Project run by Dr. Larry Wood.