On today’s afternoon dive, we headed out with researcher Larry Wood in search of hawksbill sea turtles in the area. Larry Wood’s research under The Comprehensive Florida Hawksbill Research and Conservation Program has been studying the local population of hawksbill sea turtles in the area. The project hopes to contribute significantly to our understanding and conservation of this remarkable species.
On the first dive, we headed just south of the inlet to 80 foot rocks. The sponge growth at this reef is the perfect habitat for the hawksbill sea turtle who feeds primarily on sponges. Water temperatures was in the lower 70s with a very light north current and 40+ feet of visibility. Each of the large boulders strewn across this reef was a miniature oasis covered with tropical fish, eels, and numerous other marine inhabitants. Unfortunately, the hawksbill sea turtles were no where to be seen.
Back on the boat we headed just north to the Toy Box and Playpen area where we had seen a juvenile hawksbill sea turtle living in the wreck. Less than ten minutes after descending, we came across the little turtle and Larry Wood grabbed a hold of it and, along with Larry’s assistant, they slowly surfaced.
Back on the boat, Larry Wood took measurements of this tiny turtle, tagged the turtle’s flipper for future identification, inserted a PIT tag, and photographed in detail this small turtle. The hopes is that through the help of divers like you and I, he will be able to build a picture of this turtles whereabouts and it’s behaviors. As citizen scientists we can help make a difference in the life of this critically endangered sea turtle.
You can learn more about Larry Wood’s and The Comprehensive Florida Hawksbill Research and Conservation Program on his Facebook page.
If you would like to purchase any of these prints, please contact Laz at TheLivingSea.com.
The handling of this critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle was done under a Florida state permit provided to The Comprehensive Florida Hawksbill Research and Conservation Program run by Larry Wood (pictured above).
Under NO circumstances should you ever harass, ride, or otherwise disturb a sea turtle. Severe penalties including jail time will be imposed.