Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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Since 1978, the Broward County Environmental Protection Department (BCEPD) has provided for the conservation of endangered and threatened sea turtle species within its area of responsibility. Broward County is within the normal nesting areas of three species of sea turtles: the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). The loggerhead is listed as a threatened species, while the green and leatherback are listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, 1973, and Chapter 370, F.S.

Since these statutes strictly forbid any disturbance of sea turtles and their nests, conservation activities involving the relocation of nests from hazardous locations (especially necessary along heavily developed coasts) require permitting by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In Florida, this permit is issued to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), which subsequently issues permits to individuals. universities and government agencies. This project was administered by the DNRP and conducted by the Nova University Oceanographic Center under Marine Turtle Permit #108, issued to the DNRP by the FDEP Institute of Marine Research, St. Petersburg, Florida. The DNRP is especially concerned with any environmental effects of intermittent beach renourishment projects on shorelines and the offshore reefs. As part of this concern, the DNRP has maintained the sea turtle conservation program in non-renourishment years to provide a continuous data base.

Operation of the program is competitively bid and a contract award is issued based on a selection committee review of submitted bids through a weighted point factor procedure. Nova University was awarded the contract to conduct the 1996 program.

In addition to fulfilling statutory requirements, the purposes of the project were:

  1. to relocate eggs from nests deposited in sites threatened by natural processes or human activities and thus maximize hatchling recruitment,
  2. to accurately survey sea turtle nesting patterns to determine any historical trends and assess natural and anthropogenic factors affecting nesting patterns and densities,

  3. to assess the success of sea turtle recruitment and of hatchery operations in terms of nesting success, hatching success and total hatchlings released,

  4. to dispose of turtle carcasses, respond to strandlngs and other emergencies and maintain a hot-line for reporting of turtle incidents, and

  5. to inform and educate the public on sea turtles and their conservation.

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For the Broward County Board of County Commissioners Department of Natural Resource Protection Biological Resources Division