Project Title: Understanding the Impacts of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Principle Investigators: Samir Patel
Client: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program
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 thirty juvenile and adult loggerhead turtles with water-activated satellite tags. Fifteen tags will be purchased through this project, we and our collaborators at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) have a total of 15 remaining tags from 2016 funding. This work will require two tagging trips totaling 14 days at sea aboard a chartered scallop vessel, the F/V Kathy Ann. The scientists and crewmembers aboard the vessels will conduct turtle sighting surveys for the duration of field operations.