Texas A&M-Galveston Awarded Sea Turtle Grant
The Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research at Texas A&M University at Galveston has been awarded a $99,984 state wildlife grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to tag sea turtles in Galveston Bay.
Christopher Marshall, professor in the department of marine biology and the center’s inaugural director, said the grant is a much-needed boost to the monitoring program that began in Galveston’s Christmas Bay this past year.
Marshall and his team plan on attaching both satellite and acoustic tags on green, Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles throughout the bay and coastal areas of Galveston to better understand population demographics, sea turtle movement through the system, habitat needs and uses of sea turtles.
When sea turtles are identified and safely captured, the team will record the species and size, which will help identify the age of the turtle.
Over time, the data will provide an idea of the population size and composition of many species of sea turtles.
“The Texas State Wildlife Grant will provide a clearer picture of how sea turtles are using Galveston Bay and the bay’s diverse habitats,” Marshall said. “The data will be specific to Galveston Bay – other studies maybe on ongoing but this grant will provide a healthy start to a long-term monitoring effort here on the upper Texas coast, which is sorely needed.”
“We have green, Kemp’s ridley and occasionally loggerhead sea turtles in the bay. The satellite tags will allow us to track sea turtle movement in the bay and how they use different habitats, such as seagrass beds, oyster reefs, etc.,” Marshall said.
The primary goal of the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research is to create a consortium that will enhance the efforts of individual researchers in support of programmatic grant proposals that individual researchers usually cannot access. Other goals include establishing research priorities, increased cooperation and communication of researchers throughout the gulf and training the next generation of sea turtle biologists. A physical location is planned for the center, which will likely be constructed on the Texas A&M-Galveston campus.
The center relies solely on sponsored research, extramural grants, gifts and donations for operations. Interested persons can help support the center by donating directly online or by purchasing a Texas Sea Turtle Specialty license plate through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.