Every summer, we partner with the Lohmann Lab at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct research on our sea turtle population. Recently, UNC asked our Coastal Scientist, Emily Goetz, to answer a few questions about the relationship and working with Kayla Goforth, UNC Biology Ph.D. Graduate Student, this summer. See below for more details about our partnership.What is the mission of the BHI Sea Turtle Protection Program?
In terms of scientific research, the BHI Conservancy Sea Turtle Protection Program's objectives are to collect data on all nesting sea turtle moms on Bald Head Island and to ensure that as many hatchling sea turtles as possible make it into the ocean. In addition, we aim to educate visitors to the island about the importance of sea turtles in our ocean ecosystems, specific conservation threats to turtles, and actions they can take to help protect all marine life.
Why do you work with and support scientists like Kayla?
Research groups like the Lohmann lab learn new information about sea turtles with each of their projects. The more we know about sea turtle biology and behavior, the better we are at designing and implementing effective management strategies to protect sea turtle populations. By collaborating with scientists like Kayla and facilitating sea turtle research, we hope to use the most current data to improve our Sea Turtle Protection Program for future years.
Why is it important to conserve sea turtles, and to inspire the next generation to protect them?
Biologically speaking, sea turtles are very important consumers in marine ecosystems and keep jellyfish, sponge, and crustacean populations in check, contributing to a more balanced and biodiverse ecological community. Sea turtles are also an extremely charismatic group of species. When people learn that sea turtles are endangered and become interested in protecting them, it creates an opportunity to educate about what each of us can do for sea turtle conservation. Actions that we all can take to help protect sea turtles, such as reducing plastic use and advocating for cleaner oceans, will benefit all marine life, including the critters that don't get as much attention as attractive species like sea turtles.
We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Lohmann Lab for many years to come.