Turtle Tracks: Drift Studies Can Help Us See Stranding Patterns
A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle on the beach. Photo: Kate Sampson | NOAA Fisheries
CAUTION: When you click through to the original post, photos contained in this story feature dead sea turtles. – Editor
Every year, dead sea turtles wash up, or “strand,” on U.S. beaches. NOAA Fisheries’ scientists want to understand how weather patterns and ocean currents influence annual sea turtle strandings. A study published in 2021 shows how weather patterns, oceanic conditions, and scavenging greatly influence documented seasonal sea turtle stranding patterns.
Sea turtle strandings are one of the few direct indicators of at-sea deaths. Data collected from stranded turtles provide critical information about cause of death, locations where threats occur, and more. Despite our awareness that these factors impact stranding numbers, there have been very few studies of this topic and none in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2021, scientists deployed satellite tags to study stranding probability and locations in the northern Gulf of Mexico.