Coastal Alabama Sea Turtle (CAST) Habitat Usage and Population Dynamics
US Department of the Interior
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)
Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA
The project will study habitat use and distribution patterns of sea turtles along the Alabama coast. Sea turtles will be captured by hand or using dip nets and tangle (set) nets at several sites along the Alabama coast, including inshore waters (i.e., Perdido Bay, Bon Secour Bay, Mobile Bay, and the Mississippi Sound) and the nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, researchers may obtain sea turtles for study that are legally captured during relocation trawling by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopper dredging operations. Morphometric data, including size and weight, will be gathered from all sampled turtles, and a visual health assessment conducted. Biological samples, including blood, skin, and scute will be gathered from each individual. Using biological, genetic, and stable isotope analyses, researchers can explain links among and within populations and can identify human actions that disrupt important population connections and cause environmental threats. Genetic analysis allows researchers to identify the connectivity of turtles using Alabama waters to larger populations, such as determining from which nesting beaches juvenile turtles using Alabama waters originated. Data from these samples will help determine distribution and habitat use, vital rates (including survival rates), connectivity with other areas of the Gulf of Mexico, and potential impacts of anthropogenic activities for sea turtles in coastal and nearshore waters of Alabama. These data will assist the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group (AL TIG) with restoration planning for sea turtles restoration in Alabama.