Marine Turtle Research

The Marine Turtle Research Program was established at the La Jolla Lab of the Southwest Marine Fisheries Service to address the priority actions identified in the U.S. Pacific Sea Turtle Recovery Plans.

These include:

  1. Monitoring and protection of nesting populations
    a. Identify stocks
    b. Assess population
    c. Eliminate take of nesting females and eggs
  2. Monitor and reduce incidental take in fisheries
  3. Determine abundance and distribution of adults and juveniles in marine environment
    a. Identify migratory routes and study dive behavior
    b. Identify and monitor forage areas
  4. Internationally — Support existing and new international agreements to protect sea turtles

Our research and conservation effort has mainly focused on the leatherback and the eastern Pacific green turtle due to concerns over alarming and dramatic population declines in the last two decades. We are, however, working in partnership with governments, universities, private institutions, and local communities throughout the Pacific to build collaborative research programs and implement a coordinated recovery effort for all sea turtles species.

The NMFS National Sea Turtle Molecular Genetics Center at the La Jolla Lab serves as a worldwide central depository for sea turtle tissue and DNA samples and constitutes the core of our sea turtle research program.

Understanding marine turtle habitat use and migratory behavior is one of the most important goals of researchers at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Increasing our knowledge has required the use of a variety of turtle-borne telemetry systems in the wild. In every case, we optimize the value of these instruments by collecting the maximum amount of data per deployment, and data resulting from these efforts have been highly instructive for a variety of management initiatives. We also recognize that the telemetry packages themselves and their attachment methods must continually evolve to become smaller and more streamlined, hence reducing the possible negative effects on the turtles. To achieve these goals, we continuously innovate to improve equipment and attachment techniques. ( More)

View the four part video series from the Solomon Islands

Windows Quicktime
Part 1: Sasakolo Beach, Isabel Province, Solomon Islands Dec 6, 2006 Part 1 Part 1
Part 2: Litoghahira, Isabel Province, Solomon Islands Dec 10, 2006 Part 2 Part 2
Part 3: Satellite transmitter deployment on Isabel Island Dec 12, 2006 Part 3 Part 3
Part 4: Rendova Island, Western Province, Solomon Islands, Dec 16 2006 Part 4 Part 4

View more detailed information from Solomon Islands Expedition.

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Learn about our Turtle DNA Laboratory.
From Population GenticsStock Indetification to ForesicsPaternity /Behavioral studiesExperimental (Research & Development)

Migration and Habitat

Emerging Leatherback Turtles Read about the Migration and Habitat Use of Leatherbacks
(Dermochelys coriacea), Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), Loggerheads (Caretta caretta), Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea)