Population Assessment

Hawaiian green sea turtle with fibropapilloma tumors, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, April 2008. Photo by Lacey Price.
Hawaiian green sea turtle with fibropapilloma tumors, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, April 2008. Photo by Lacey Price.

A primary goal of the Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program is to provide robust ecological research products in support of management needs and species recovery goals, as mandated through the U.S. Endangered Species Act and other federal statutes. To this end, interdisciplinary analyses to understand the observed population variability of sea turtle populations, through: (i) designing geospatial models of long-term population, ecological, satellite, and climate data; (ii) conducting primary field research and laboratory experiments, and (iii) developing sustainable data streams, research infrastructures, and scientific leadership across the Pacific.

Current sea turtle research projects include: long-term climate forcing to population variability; historical ecology and biogeography; epidemiology of tumor-forming diseases (see picture); population density estimates across the U.S. Pacific Island Territories; dispersal and spatial ecology; ecological consequences of biotelemetry drag; chronology and climate records in turtle tissues; and physiology and resource requirements of sea turtles.

Population assessment depends on collaborations with experts throughout the Science Center and with several other organizations within NOAA Fisheries (particularly the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), and Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC)). We also work closely with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and numerous university scientists in the United States and beyond.

Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program researchers have served on a wide variety of federal science panels including the Marine Turtle Stock Assessment Improvement Plan (NMFA), Pacific Leatherback Assessment Working Group (NMFS), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Working Group (WHOI/ICES), Climate and the Endangered Species Act Working Group (NOAA), and the Loggerhead ESA Status Review Working Group (USFWS/NOAA).