The Sea Turtle Research Team recently said goodbye to their first Earthwatch team of the summer, and we are sad to see them go. The group of 7 students and 4 chaperones from Santa Maria, California were very enthusiastic and eager to participate in all activities. The group's visit was concurrent with the summer intern’s first week at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, so lots of learning was had by all. Our work done in the field with Earthwatch included abundance surveys, BRUVS (baited remote underwater video survey) setting, as well as catching and tagging turtles through seining and capture off the boat. Jules, a fast swimming student from the Earthwatch team, caught the first turtle, named ‘Seawater,’ setting the mood for the week to come. Our most successful turtle capture was on the last day, with a total of 10 turtles caught in our seine net at Half Sound! With one recapture and 9 new individuals being tagged, it added a significant amount of turtle individuals to our overall count with sizes varying from 257mm- 357mm.
Other highlights of the week included excursions to the ocean hole and caves in Rock Sound as well as a down island trip with lots of stops along the way. On a day off, the team got to see a bit more of Eleuthera, stopping at the Glass Window Bridge, and Governors Harbor. Evenings consisted of presentations given by Cape Eleuthera Institute faculty about their research including information on sea turtles and manta rays. They also spent two evenings recording data from the BRUVS they had set out earlier in the day by watching the film and looking for predators and they saw- barracuda, nurse sharks, and even a green turtle. “I genuinely will miss this place and will cherish everything forever,” said Eugene Kim, one of the student volunteers as his closing remarks. Our next group arrives at the end of July!