Marc Rice and George Balazs with 2 of the 197 satellite tagged juvenile loggerheads that were reelased between 1997 and 2013 into the Eastern and Central North Pacific.

Fifteen of the 30 juvenile loggerhead turtles being raised at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium were being feed when we visited them in November.  They are growing quickly and look very healthy.

 We propose to test the TCH experimentally by deploying cohorts of satellite-tagged loggerheads in the transitional zone connecting the Central and Eastern North Pacific. According to our hypothesis, satellite tagged loggerheads will turn back to the west, remaining in the open ocean, if they face cold water more typical of La Niña, and head east under warm water conditions typical of El Niño or marine heatwave conditions. So, at minimum, one could deploy 25 tagged juvenile loggerheads during exceptionally warm oceanographic conditions and 25 under cool conditions. Recent studies have shown warm and cool fluctuations in the Eastern North Pacific along intervals of 2-4 years (Fiedler and Mantua 2017), and in a changing ocean this could become more frequent and more extreme. Given the increasing frequency of anomalous conditions in this region, we project that tagging cohorts over four years would make it very likely we would experience both warm and cold years. As in the previous tagging studies, juvenile loggerheads will be reared for research at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in Japan, satellite tagged using the most ethical and non-invasive techniques, and released using Ships of Opportunity (IOSEA Marine Turtle e-News. 2016). Deployments will be made to the east end of the CNP convergence zone in April over four years that reflect the full range of oceanographic conditions. Cohorts would then be tracked for 1-2 years based on the typical duration of these satellite tags.  Our team’s decades long experience has allowed us to refine our techniques to reduce harm to sea turtles on which they are deployed, and we will obtain all necessary permissions. We also assure that the weight and shape of satellite tags minimize drag and that attachment techniques minimize impacts on experimental turtles.

For our outreach program, we will deliver our three messages through a variety of avenues. In addition to creating, updating, and promoting an interactive website and social media presence, we will look for outreach opportunities to share this project directly with the public by partnering with local and national educational facilities. From a K-12 perspective, we will target middle school and high school aged students, working with classrooms to develop and deliver interactive lesson plans related to our project and outreach goals. We will also seek out collaborations with aquariums across the country, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and National Aquarium, for opportunities to host informational sessions and outreach tables, allowing us to directly connect and engage with interested members of the public of all ages. Finally, we will also look for opportunities to share our work through the media, pitching our research to news organizations, podcasts, and other popular outlets.  Members of the STRETCH Consortium based in Japan and Mexico will pursue additional outreach opportunities in their host countries to help achieve our environmental education goals.