by Laura Winfree, writer for akumalblog.com (July 2013)
A local organization in the Riviera Maya town of Akumal is now taking another giant step forward when it comes to protecting and preserving Caribbean wildlife. Centro Ecológico Akumal (Akumal Ecological Center) is tagging juvenile and sub-adult green sea turtles with an IP-based acoustic system tag in their newest program.
Eight green sea turtles are being equipped with acoustic transmitters so that CEA can track their movement passively via a network of listening stations in the beach town of Akumal. Each acoustic receiver sends data from the sea turtles to a remote server. The new tagging system hopes to track the foraging and behavioral patterns of the turtles when they enter and exit Akumal Bay, focusing on how the animals are affected by environmental changes as well as human presence in the area.
The Teens4Oceans group is providing CEA with underwater and above-water cameras, in addition to powering systems, network systems, and a two-year maintenance and service agreement. The monitoring system for the green sea turtles also consists of a pole for the acoustic receiver and data acquisition tools, along with camera systems attached to a watertight electronics enclosure. CEA offices will be able to communicate with the system via radio, while Teens4Oceans will have a video stream available to the public from the Teens4Oceans website.
The turtle tagging project offers students and the general public a great way to see what’s going on with sea turtle preservation programs in the Riviera Maya. The data collected from the project will help Centro Ecológico Akumal to improve their current bay management program so that Akumal’s iconic sea turtles will continue to call the destination home for many years to come.