Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tagging Flatbacks

There are factors peculiar to flatback turtles which make some traditional methods of sea turtle research difficult. The problem of tag loss on flatbacks means traditional tagging methods is difficult. It will be important to find a technique which reduces or elimates the high rate of tag loss and allows quick identification on the beaches.
The study of flatback sea turtles on Crab Island is further complicated by the large numbers of turtles coming ashore. In studying a large nesting population the use of tagging techniques which allow rapid identification and limit the likelihood of disturbing the nesting process is essential.
Furthermore, unlike the green turtle and hawksbill turtle which are traditionally harvested and therefore a higher rate of tag returns is recorded, flatback turtles are more of a cryptic species and little harvested. The tracking of migration distances and routes is difficult if relying on this technique alone. Satellite tracking of turtles will be necessary to determine movement patterns of individuals from the nesting beach.

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