The Cape Eleuthera Institute Sea Turtle Research and Conservation team finished off an awesome year of Earthwatch trips with the 8th and final Earthwatch team of 2015. Participants from the US, the UK, and Canada joined the expedition for 9 days of exciting research. The participants were enthusiastic to get involved in the many facets of sea turtle research happening at CEI. The volunteers got hands on experience setting baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS), doing abundance surveys at various locations, as well as catching plenty of turtles!
The Earthwatch team also got the chance to hear from other researchers at CEI about projects going on during nighttime presentations. These presentations varied from sustainable fisheries management to coral reef health and ecology. A substantial amount of data was collected over the week, with 259 turtles spotted during abundance surveys across the creeks of South Eleuthera. We also had two record-breaking days in a row during abundance surveys, with exactly 127 turtles spotted, on both days, in Half Sound!
Earthwatch had a very successful week, catching 15 turtles total, including tagging 6 new turtles. One particularly fast member of this Earthwatch team, Patti, also caught 6 of the 15 turtles, which may be a new individual record for Earthwatch. The team of volunteers participated in analyzing some of the BRUVS footage recorded during the week. They caught footage of Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks on the videos!
As we wrap up an awesome year of Earthwatch programs, the Sea Turtle Research and Conservation team would like to send a huge thank you to the 90 volunteers that have come down and joined us in our research efforts. Without them, it would not be possible to successfully complete the amount of research that we conduct every year. Looking towards 2016, we are excited to add two additional Earthwatch teams to the schedule, bringing us to a total of 10 teams for 2016. We look forward to welcoming our first team of the year in February!