Last Friday we had dr. Larry Wood with the Florida Hawksbill Project aboard Kyalami. The Florida Hawksbill Project focuses on the biology and conservation of Hawksbill turtles and their habitats and Dr. Wood has special permits to handle sea turtles for research purposes. He gets to bring the Hawksbills aboard Kyalami and collect samples and information and tag them. The whole process is super neat to watch. Make sure to not forget that seaturtles are endangered and protected and it’s against the law to touch or harass them.
Before we leave the dock, we make sure that Dr. Wood has a moment to explain what he’s doing so no one will attack him underwater when he grabs hold of a turtle thinking that they’re doing the right thing protecting the turtle. Everyone needs to be on the same page so we all stay safe. Kind of important. Ha. We headed out of the Jupiter Inlet to the Scarface/High Ledge area since that’s where we’d spotted several different untagged Hawksbills the last few months. After being underwater for just a while. a Hawksbill was spotted, and dr Wood grabbed it and started his way up to get the turtle to the surface. A helper assists him with this so he (and the turtle) will do a controlled ascent and after they make it to the surface, the boat will come over and pick them up. This all happened before all the all the other divers finished their dive and when they got back on the boat they were in for a treat. Right there on the engine hatch was this beautiful young Hawksbill that now everyone get to check out up close and personal. Not to forget all the questions everyone can ask Dr. Wood while he’s working with the turtle. It’s super cool, they’re just so cute!
When the boat picked up the turtle and Dr. Wood, the work started. Dr Wood took DNA and blood samples, he took measurements, and documented everything including specific marks the turtle had (like the piece that was missing at the bottom of the turtle’s shell) and when done he weighed and tagged it. When the turtle is tagged it’s time to take pictures and after the pictures the captain will bring the boat back to where the turtle came out of the water so we can release it again. I was lucky enough that I could help and release the turtle back into the water after all the work was done.
We put the turtle back where it came out of the water and the small Hawksbill got to return home with some pretty new bling and a heck of a story!
- Anne Hill