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Marine Species Monitoring

Atlantic sea turtle tagging project is underway!

Posted on July 17, 2013

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The first two tagged sea turtles were released last week from the beach in First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.  The two green sea turtles,  "Mint Chocolate Chip" and "Pistachio", were found cold stunned in December - one at Fort Story and the other at False Cape State Park. The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team team rescued them took them to the aquarium for treatment until they were healthy enough to be released back into the wild.

They're fitted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and small acoustic telemetry tags which will send a coded message identifying them to an array of receivers stationed in Chesapeake Bay and coastal ocean waters so their movements can be tracked. These are just the first of many turtles that will be tagged as part of a collaborative monitoring project between NAVFAC Atlantic and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.  Larger turtles will also be tagged with GPS tracking tags that periodically send positional data via satellites for later analysis.  The tags and recieving array should provide detailed insights into habitat use and residency time in the Chesapeake Bay and nearshore coastal waters, allowing for better assessment and mitigation of potential impacts to these animals. One particularly exciting aspect of this project is the ability place the smaller acoustic tags on juvenile green and Kemp's ridley sea turtles, species that we know use the Chesapeake Bay, but are usually too small to place traditional satellite tags on.

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Above left: Sue Barco applies a quick-set epoxy to the carapace of a turtle to secure the small acousit tag.
Above right: Virginia Aquarium staff tending to the turtle while the epoxy sets with the tag in place.