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Monitoring of marine turtles in BCS

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Olive Radley turtle

Since 2003 the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS) have been monitoring the health of marine turtles in the waters of Baja California Sur, where in recent years there have been quite a high number of strandings.

The lead researcher on the project, Professor Maria Monica Lara Uc, said that the investigation in 2015 covered a radius of 247 km where scientists have been collecting data on weight, temperature, body measurement and species. By collecting blood and tissue samples from the turtles the scientists have also gathered information on the presence of macro algae, parasites, barnacles, and even tumors.

All turtles are released back into the water after analyses. And in the case of turtles that were lifeless when found every attempt is made to determine the cause of death. This is often difficult to pinpoint exactly but it can be attributed to multiple factors such as viruses, parasites, bacteria, or some form of contamination

The three most common species in the study over the last year have been Loggerhead turtles, Olive Ridley turtles and green sea turtles. Interestingly of the first 40 turtles found in 2015, the highest incidence was of Loggerhead Turtles. There were also less strandings of Loggerheads which scientists believe may be due to their preferred diet of red crab, and to the effects of "El Niño" which warms up sea temperatures encouraging turtles to come to the surface. 

Green sea turtle

So far the 247 km radius of the study has included San Juanico, Cabo San Lazaro and Magdalena Bay.  In future it intends to extend coverage to Scammon and Laguna San Ignacio in the near future.

Several partner organisations have also been involved in the project - the Center for Biological Research of the Northwest, the Interdisciplinary Center of Marine Sciences, and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection. 

Loggerhead turtle

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