Tracking the World’s Most Mysterious Sea Turtles
Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D.
Affiliated Home Campus: Boca Raton
Affiliated Department: Biological Sciences
Leatherback sea turtles are one of the most elusive turtle species due to their open ocean life style and hunt for pelagic prey. Due to their limited human interaction this species is very understudied, the juvenile life stage is the most abundant and where there is the biggest gap in knowledge. Since leatherbacks are a protected species their potential interaction with ocean technologies such as ocean turbines in Southern Florida must be considered. Since virtually nothing is known about juvenile leatherback sea turtle diving behavior, it is undetermined whether there will be fatal interaction between the two. This project focuses on studying diving behavior of leatherback sea turtles by raising them in captivity and then testing their diving capabilities in the open ocean. Hyperbaric medicine was also introduced to help acclimate the captive turtles to increasing and decreasing pressures prior to field experiments. This research will help further ocean energy technology development to become more mechanically friendly once possible interactions between marine life and the technologies are known.