In 2007, the Wildlife Conservation Society, in partnership with the Belize Fisheries Department, started a long term in-water sea turtle monitoring program at Glover’s Reef Atoll. The main objectives of the monitoring program are to:
- Determine an absolute abundance estimate of the Glover’s Reef Atoll fore-reef habitat aggregation and long-term abundance
- Increase our knowledge of sea turtle movements and habitat use
- Assess genetic stock of foraging sea turtles at Glover’s Reef
- Study growth rates of sea turtles at Glover’s Reef
- Build the capacity of stakeholders to collect accurate, reliable, and standardized data from foraging index sites (several staff from Government and NGOs have been trained)
The methodology includes 16 one hour long snorkel surveys with 6-8 snorkelers swimming parallel along the fore-reef areas of the atoll, recording sightings of turtles. The depth ranges from about 4m – 20m. The species of the turtles sighted are recorded and an attempt is made to capture the turtle by hand. If captured, the turtle is then measured, weighed and tagged and released back into the water, usually in less than half an hour (see Sea Turtle Report).