2018 Nearshore habitat utilization by sea turtles within Massachusetts waters

Project Title: Nearshore habitat utilization by sea turtles within Massachusetts waters

Year: 2018

Principle Investigator: Samir Patel

Client: Massachusetts Environmental Trust

The proposed project will employ a series of chemical tracer techniques using samples collected from dead and live stranded turtles to identify how, when and where turtles are utilizing local habitats prior to cold stunning and stranding in the water around Cape Cod, including Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound. This region of Massachusetts’ waters presently supports a large number of hard-shelled sea turtle species, specifically Kemp’s ridleys, loggerheads and green turtles, the number of sea turtle strandings within these waters has increased from less than a dozen annually between 1977 and 1987 to over a thousand in 2014. By improving understanding of when turtles arrive within CCW, how long they stay, and what they feed upon locally, we can update management and conservation programs to protect turtles from anthropogenic impacts and perhaps even preempt and reduce stranding events.