The New York State Sea Turtle Program is a detailed study of the four
species of sea turtles found in Long Island waters. These include the
leatherback. The Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
and Southampton College of Long Island University will be conducting an
intensive study into the biology, behavior and conservation of sea turtles
in the Northeastern US, utilizing wild, free ranging sea turtles, and
rehabilitated turtles. This long term research project which began some 10
years ago by Samuel Sadove and Lester Keihn, monitors sea turtles as they
migrate to Long Island's bays and the Long Island Sound to forage on
shellfish, crustaceans, invertebrates, and in the case of Green turtles,
submerged aquatic vegetation. Students generally assist in these studies.
A unique component of this program is a cooperative project with Long
Island's commercial fishermen who provide wild sea turtles accidentally
entrapped in their fishing gear to CRESLI's research staff for study. These
studies include examination of sea turtle prey species, and DNA analysis to
determine which population recovered green sea turtles come from. Satellite
transmitters placed on these turtles help to determine the routes by which
they return to natal beaches.
Sea turtle monitoring by CRESLI will also utilize a new form of
technology that involves the placement of a biologically neutral microchip
into the flipper of these turtles. This chip contains a unique number which
can be read by a handheld receiver. This enables identification and tracking
of individual animals throughout their entire life.
CRESLI is also studying the habits and occurrence of the leatherback sea
turtle, the largest living reptile. Earlier studies by CETAP in the late
1970s, indicated that Long Island is a significant feeding area for the
Leatherback turtle. This turtle, which feeds on jellyfish and is sighted
regularly in Long Island's waters, can grow to over 8 feet in length and
2000 pounds in weight. Aerial surveys, sighting questionnaires, and
satellite telemetry will hopefully answer many questions about this warm
Research by CRESLI scientists on stranded and rehabilitated sea turtles
have resulted in the development of new treatment therapies and detailed
treatment protocols for critically injured or cold stunned sea turtles,
including continuing development of new methods to repair shell injuries,
and possible prosthetic devices for sea turtles with traumatic injuries.
This has improved the survival rate of these threatened species.
See sea turtle abstracts.