Project Title: Understanding the Impacts of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Principle Investigator: Samir Patel
Client: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program
The proposed 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), Southern New England (SNE) and Georges Bank (GB) 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. The information collected will aid in evaluating loggerhead abundance estimates, developing scallop-harvesting strategies that minimize harm to sea turtles, and defining critical habitats for loggerheads. To build upon the success of prior Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) turtle behavioral research, the proposed project will tag twenty juvenile and adult loggerhead turtles with water-activated satellite tags.