Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, Inc.

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Sea Turtles

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NEW YORK STATE SEA TURTLE

 PROGRAM

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 loggerhead, green, Kemp's ridley and 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 blooded reptile.

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.

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