Much of what is known about marine turtles comes from land-based research on females which come ashore to lay their eggs. Very little is known about the vast majority of their lives, which are spent in the ocean, often far from land. Our research cruises provide us with the opportunity to study this portion of their lives.
We collect data on distribution and abundance of turtles at sea and capture individuals from a small boat. These are weighed and measured, flipper-tagged, and genetically sampled (by collecting blood or skin). Selected individuals are sampled for prey items (using lavage methods), and occasionally, fitted with a satellite tag. This research is conducted in the eastern tropical Pacific. (Contact Robert L. Pitman)
The Southwest Fisheries Science Center also has a dedicated Marine Turtle Program.
Selected Publications and Technical Reports
Kopitsky, K., R.L. Pitman, and P. H. Dutton. In press. Reproductive ecology of olive ridleys on the open ocean in the eastern tropical Pacific. Proceedings of the 20th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum.
Kopitsky, K., R.L. Pitman, and P. Plotkin. 2000. Investigations on mating and reproductive status of olive ridleys, Lepidochelys olivacea, captured in the eastern tropical Pacific. Pp. 160-162 In: Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, (Kalb, H.J. and T. Wibbles, compilers),U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA Technical Memorandum. NMFS-SEFSC-443.
Beavers, S.C, and F.L. Ramsey. 1998. Detectability analysis in transect surveys. Journal of Wildlife Management 62(3):948-957.
Beavers, S.C., and E.R. Cassano. 1996. Movements and dive behavior of a male sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) in the eastern tropical Pacific. Journal of Herpetology 30:97-104.
Frazier, J.G., H.L. Fierstine, S.C. Beavers, F. Achaval, H. Suganuma, R.L. Pitman, Y. Yamaguchi, and C.M. Prigioni. 1994. Impalement of marine turtles (Reptilia, Chelonia: Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae) by billfishes (Osteichthyes, Perciformes: Istiophoridae and Xiphiidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 39:85-96.
Pitman, R.L. 1993. Seabird associations with marine turtles in the eastern Pacific. Colonial Waterbirds 16(2):194- 201.
Pitman, R.L. 1992. Sea turtle associations with flotsam in the eastern tropical Pacific. P.94, In: M. Salmon and J. Wyneken (Compilers) Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFSC-302.
Pitman, R.L. 1990. Distribution and biology of sea turtles in the eastern tropical Pacific. Pp. 143-148, In: M. Salmon and J. Wyneken (compilers). Proceedings of Tenth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-278.