Florida’s Red Tides and Their Impacts on Sea Turtles

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have occurred on Florida’s west coast for centuries, with the first documented report of the HAB known as a red tide in 1844. Although many different organisms can cause HABs, the red tide that commonly affects the Gulf Coast of Florida is caused by a single-celled dinoflagellate known as Karenia brevis (formerly Gymnodinium breve and Ptychodiscus brevis), which can turn waters reddish-brown when its concentrations are elevated. When winds, currents, salinity, and temperatures are ideal for algal transport and growth, the cells can be concentrated and proliferate into what are known as blooms. Although natural biogeochemical cycles contribute to the presence of HABs, it is possible that anthropogenic influences, including industrial and agricultural runoff (e.g., fertilizers and phosphate mining wastes), and increased ocean temperatures are resulting in an amplification of the frequency, duration, and range of harmful algal blooms.

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Atlantic Loggerheads: Why Isn’t the Best Understood Sea Turtle Recovering?

The Atlantic Ocean has served as a laboratory for pioneering work to save sea turtles. It is where Professor Archie Carr—and many whom he inspired— first addressed some profound mysteries that had stymied the conservation of such enigmatic marine animals. Loggerhead sea turtles became an exemplar of this work, revealing critical concepts such as the oceanic dispersal, the nature of the “lost years,” the migratory connections, and the relative importance of different life stages to population growth. These puzzle pieces have guided strategic sea turtle conservation for decades.

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Status Update: Modern Threats Taking a Toll on Northwest Atlantic Leatherbacks

Thanks to the decades of effort by dedicated beach monitors around the world, we know more about the status of sea turtle populations than ever before. We know where populations are in rough shape after being depleted by decades of unsustainable capture (accidental or otherwise), where habitat alterations have occurred, and where other threats from humans exist. And we know where populations with positive trends are offering beacons of hope. Until recently, the Northwest Atlantic (NWA) leatherback, which nests throughout the Wider Caribbean region and spans the entire North Atlantic Ocean, even peeking into the Mediterranean, was one such beacon.

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The Continuing Tale of Circle Hooks in Brazil

Incidental capture of sea turtles in pelagic and coastal fisheries (also called bycatch) is arguably the greatest threat to sea turtles worldwide. Yet, until recently, there was practically no information regarding sea turtle interactions with longline fisheries in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. The first studies about this topic were made public by Uruguayan researchers in 1998, the same year that Brazilian researchers presented a report about the incidental capture of loggerhead turtles by longline vessels in Brazil. Although the government insisted that incidental capture was very low, Brazilian NGOs such as Projeto TAMAR asserted the opposite.

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FAQ: About Sea Turtles

With their specialized biology and their unique behaviors, sea turtles tend to provoke a lot of questions. Spend an hour with someone who is watching a turtle nest for the first time, and inevitably the questions will come: How old do they get? Where will she go after she leaves the beach? Where did she mate? When will she come back? How long until the babies become adults? And so on.

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A Caribbean Eden Recovers From Hurricane Irma

Barbuda is a small island (162 sq km, or 62.5 sq mi) located in the Leeward Islands chain of the eastern Caribbean, 62 km (38.5 mi) from its sister island, Antigua. So few are Barbuda’s human residents, in fact, that the donkeys, goats, horses, dogs, and cats that roam the island likely outnumber the people. Although not globally known as a tourist destination, Barbuda boasts numerous pristine white and pink beaches, on which nest substantial populations of hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles. Loggerheads, too, are known to periodically forage around the island’s seagrass beds and offshore reefs, and a leatherback is occasionally spotted.

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Masirah’s Sea Turtles: History, Trends, Action and Hope

Flanking the central coast of the Sultanate of Oman, less than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) offshore, the dry, rugged desert island of Masirah hosts one of the most important loggerhead turtle rookeries in the world. In 1977, the scent of a major turtle discovery in Arabia had reached the nose of the renowned Dr. Archie Carr. Soon after, a joint initiative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and World Wildlife Fund was launched, and Dr. James Perran Ross began a pioneering project there.

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