The Department of Lands and Natural Resources’ Sea Turtle Program in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center recently conducted in-water sea turtle surveys around the island of Saipan.
Public Outreach specialist Carey Demapan noted that since 2011, staff from NOAA’s PIFSC visit the CNMI once a year to conduct sea turtle surveys.
“These efforts build on a decade of research and continually strengthens partnership between NOAA PIFSC and DLNR. We extend our gratitude to Jessy Hapdei, diver and proprietor of Jessy’s Tag Services, and Syd Takahashi and his boat crew from FishGuyz Scuba & Charter for successful tagging,” she said.
Data collected will be used to assess green and hawksbill sea turtle populations, including turtle habitat use and movement.
According to DLNR Secretary Anthony Benavente, the Sea Turtle Program continues to successfully track migration routes and patterns of green sea turtles.
“The work of our Endangered Species Program manager Lisa Szutukowski, Carey, and the NOAA team are an extremely dedicated effort to ensure the preservation and growth of sea turtle populations and their role in ocean ecosystems. As an endangered species, green sea turtles in our region require consistent monitoring to deter poaching and other threats to their nesting environment,” Benavente said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expressed that consistent collaboration between the NOAA team and the sea turtle program is a local effort with regional benefits.
“Over the years, DLNR’s sea turtle program has received critical assistance from NOAA and our counterparts on Guam to work towards recovering sea turtle populations. I believe that with these surveys and our conservation efforts, we can protect and improve nesting rates in the CNMI and Micronesia. We still have a long way to go, but I commend our team for their persistent outreach to prevent further harm to our sea turtle species. I also strongly urge our community to take part in these efforts by staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activities,” Torres said.
Research for this project was conducted under NMFS Permit# 21260. Under CNMI and federal law, it is illegal to harvest, capture, harass, or propagate sea turtles in the Marianas.
If you see injured, dead, or trapped sea turtles, illegal or suspicious activities that may result in turtle death or injury and any information concerning a poached turtle, contact the DLNR Sea Turtle Standing Hotline at (670) 287-8537 (CTR-TLES). All tips are anonymous and lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week. (PR)