Karetschildpad - Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

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NWO funds a Sea turtle migration project in Dutch Caribbean

Gepubliceerd op
15 mei 2014

The Caribbean Research Programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), will fund a new research project that will study the ecology and conservation of green and hawksbill turtles in the Dutch Caribbean.

Photo: Karetschildpad - Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) (© Maggy Nugues)

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has set up a Caribbean Research Programme with the aim to strengthen the scientific knowledge base, encourage partnerships, and train young researchers in a wide range of scientific disciplines. This week NWO announced which project-proposals will receive funding within the Caribbean Programme. The project titled "Ecology and conservation of green and hawksbill turtles in the Dutch Caribbean", that was submitted by Dr. Lisa Becking (IMARES Wageningen UR & Naturalis Biodiversity Center), Dr. Marjolijn Christianen, and Prof. dr. Per Palsboll (both Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Centrum voor Ecologische en Evolutionaire Studies), was one of the nine projects that will be granted funding. 

Global concerns over the status of green and hawksbill turtles call for innovative and integrated research to guide marine conservation efforts. The Netherlands has adopted national and international legislation to protect sea turtles inhabiting the Dutch Caribbean waters; however the lack of fundamental insights into the ecology, migration routes, population demographics and habitat use of green and hawksbill turtles poses severe limitations to implementing effective management plans for the region.

The proposed multidisciplinary and international project aims to fill vital gaps in baseline knowledge using an integrated combination of molecular tools, satellite tracking and habitat mapping. The analyses will encompass multiple temporal, spatial and organizational scales providing a comprehensive insight into past and contemporary ecology of these endangered marine migrants across the entire Dutch Caribbean. The results of the research will furthermore provide a firm basis to aid management agencies in implementing biologically sound, science-based conservation policies for sea turtles in the Dutch Caribbean.

The project will encompass four years and is divided into two complementary sub-projects to be conducted by one postdoctoral researcher and one PhD. The combined results will provide an unprecedented detailed insight into the past and present population structure and demography of the green and hawksbill turtles that frequent the Dutch Caribbean.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is a key partner in the project and there will be active collaboration with the different conservation NGOs on the islands.