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Looking after turtles — Island hosts international course

Royal Gazette

By Ceola Wilson
Published Aug, 15 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm)

Turtle research: Students and specialists are in Bermuda for an International course on the conservation of turtles.

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The Bermuda Zoological Society is hosting an international course on the biology and conservation of sea turtles.

A group of seven students and professionals from around the world are in Bermuda for the ‘in-water course’ hosted by the Bermuda Turtle Project.

“It is a two-week intense, in-water course with field work and classroom work on board, along with daily readings and lectures, and most importantly, group discussions,” said course leader Jennifer Gray.

This year, there are seven enrolled in the programme, representing Mexico, Grenada, El Salvador, United Kingdom, USA and Colombia, as well as one Bermudian, under the leadership of visiting scientists Drs Annie and Peter Meylan.

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They are being assisted by Robert Hardy, a satellite telemetry expert, Dr Emma Harrison, the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Scientific Director, and Dr Jim Fourqurean, of the Seagrass Ecosystems Research Lab in Florida, as well as a team of local experts.

The course, now in its 18th year, has seen more than 155 participants from 36 jurisdictions.

Students will participate in “collecting, tagging and genetic profiling of turtles from locations around the Island, before they are released back into their environment”.

It also entails “a necropsy session on stranded sea turtle specimens”, and debates on “issues and methods of conservation and protection of turtles in their home countries”.

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“We’re excited to have representatives from around the world, each of whom represents important areas in the life cycle of the sea turtles which come to Bermuda,” said Principal Curator Dr Ian Walker.

“The course is extremely valuable from the standpoint that it allows us to teach representatives from other jurisdictions how we deal with our sea turtles, and to learn from them. It also allows us to create a network of people, which can only improve sea turtle conservation in the region.”

The course began on August 5 and runs through to August 16.

For more information contact the Bermuda Zoological Society at development.bzs@gov.bm.