Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, January 6, 2012

We can recognise our Turtles!

Over the past 2 months, the marine staff here in Kenya, particularly Katie, have been working through underwater photos of sea turtles to identify differences in individual turtles so they can be recognised. Photo identification of sea turtles is possible using distinguishing features on their shells. A more robust method uses facial scute patterns, but initially we have started to identify key individuals through markings on the back of their shell.

A regularly seen turtle - Squirt has 3 distinctive white spots on his shell
We have identified and named 11 different turtles; 5 Green and 6 Hawksbill. Now, we will focus on photographing any turtles we spot while snorkelling, to either add them to our catalogue or find out where our known turtles are moving. This will be hugely valuable in working out the size of each turtles' habitat, including whether they live mainly within the marine national park or venture into unprotected waters. We will also be able to identify key areas where fishing and turtle distribution overlap.

Excitingly for our arriving marine volunteers, if you spot a new turtle, you get to name it!
Splodge is new to our catalogue!