Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab

Enhancing Strategic Collaborations for the Conservation of Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean Loggerhead Marine Turtles

This project was a collaboration led by Connie Kot and Sarah DeLand (Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment), Drs. Annette Broderick, Brendan Godley, and ALan Rees (University of Exeter, Centre for Ecology and Conservation) and Dr. Matthew Godfrey (Duke University/North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission). This project was supported by the University of Exeter & Duke University via a Exeter-Duke Partnership Development Grant.

Duke University, USA and University of Exeter, UK collaborated on this project to support the process of defining marine turtle high use areas, including ways to handle data that can contribute to answering this question. This pilot effort focused on loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. The project aimed to provide opportunities for regional marine turtle experts to bring together their knowledge, data, and input and apply them to conservation issues on a larger scale.

Major themes discussed were:

1) effective ways to leverage existing and past project results/data for the benefit of current and future collaborations (e.g., adapting processes and criteria from local, regional, international levels, following a standardized protocol for archiving data, accessing common tools and methods for data processing),

2) processes for defining a criteria and classifications for marine turtle habitat and area use,

3) methods for incorporating empirical data and expert driven knowledge to a given criteria to define marine turtle high use areas, and

4) new short- and long-term priority projects, educational resources, opportunities for students, and funding sources that would contribute to defining marine turtle high use areas.

There are many ways to leverage datasets from past projects, especially when contributing to initiatives that incorporate large amounts of data from various sources. Researchers can rely on data management applications and services to archive their telemetry tracking data, create public-facing tracking web pages, and have a repository where project managers could be contacted for data sharing and collaboration. However, the process for preserving and sharing valuable tracking data to maximize the benefit they can bring for turtle conservation and management can be made more efficient.

Duke University and University of Exeter conducted surveys and hosted workshops to discuss standard practices and recommended improvements that can better meet the needs of highly collaborative projects which aggregate data. To initiate the process, marine turtle experts who have undertaken recent tracking projects were asked how they manage tracking data and their current data sharing policies. Workshops prioritizing the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean regions allowed for gathering information applicable to both regions regarding these themes.

Widely distributing this project’s outcomes can spark interest and inform other global marine spatial planning efforts, such as identifying marine turtle high use areas for other regions and species, important marine mammal areas (IMMAs), important bird areas (IBAs), or ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs). Determining appropriate ways to move forward while applying the best available scientific data can help to advance these international efforts.

Region Workshops

Northwest Atlantic Workshop: March 22, 2021, 9 aM – 12 pM EDT (Workshop Agenda)

Mediterranean Workshop: March 24, 2021, 11 aM – 2 pM UTC (Workshop Agenda)

Supplemental Materials: Survey Summary, IMTA Background

Main discussion points:

1. The outcome of the survey on data management and sharing of sea turtle tracking data, and

2. Related topics on loggerhead turtles in either the Northwest Atlantic or Mediterranean.

High Use Areas Workshop:

April 22, 2021, 9 aM – 11 aM EDT / 1 pM – 3 pM UTC (Workshop Agenda)

Main discussion points:

1. The outcomes of the two regional workshops, bringing together researchers working in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean, and

2. Dive deeper into the process of defining loggerhead turtle high use areas in these regions

Follow-up Materials: MiCO Metadata Template, Marine Turtle Info Template, Marine Turtle Metadata Template

Final Project Report

The final project report was submitted to the Exeter-Duke Partnership Development program in 2021, which included all materials sent to the meeting participants, a summary of the workshop activities, and details on how these discussions furthered collaboration among experts by bringing together ideas and research projects to better address loggerhead turtle conservation issues in the Northwest Atlantic, Mediterranean, and beyond.

Based on the final project report, we also published a summary in the Marine Turtle Newsletter Issue 165:

Kot, C. Y., A. F. Rees, S. DeLand, M. H. Godfrey, B. J. Godley, and A. C. Broderick. 2022. Enhancing strategic collaborations for conserving Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean loggerhead marine turtles. Marine Turtle Newsletter 165: 43-46. [PDF]


Thank you to the Exeter-Duke Partnership Development program for funding this project and all of the participants who contributed their time and ideas through the surveys, email, and workshop discussions. Duke University and the University of Exeter look forward to continuing the conversation and working with others in the future! For more information, please contact Connie Kot or ALan Rees.