Project Title: Understanding Impacts of the Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles through Satellite Tagging
Principle Investigators: Samir Patel & Shea Miller
Client: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program
This research focuses on determining the ecology of the loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) that overlap with the sea scallop fisheries of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, specifically in the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) and off Southern New England (SNE) to help reduce harmful interactions. Our primary objectives are to examine sea turtle distributions, behavior and foraging habits, improve sea turtle bycatch estimates, identify factors impacting bycatch rates and determine the role loggerheads play in impacting sea scallop health. To accomplish this task, we will attach satellite telemetry tags on thirty juvenile and adult loggerhead sea turtles (>50 cm carapace length) off Delaware and within the Gulf Stream off North Carolina, take biological and morphometric samples and conduct in-water videography surveys using a remotely operated vehicle. The information collected will aid in evaluating loggerhead abundance estimates, developing scallop-harvesting strategies that minimize harm to sea turtles, and defining critical habitat for loggerheads.