Sea Turtle Citizen Science

SpeSeas, in collaboration with Save Our Sea Turtles (SOS), would like to work with YOU! We are engaging members of the public, as citizen scientists, in the monitoring and conservation of sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago. We have partnered with ProTECTOR Inc. of Honduras, developers of the TURT data collection mobile application (Android or iOS), to allow tour guides, snorkellers, SCUBA divers, dive shops or any member of the public to report sea-turtle sightings. Anyone can get involved!

All you need is a compatible Android or iOS smartphone. Simply snap a few photos of the turtle and upload them using the mobile app, along with some basic information about the turtle and voilà, you have become a citizen scientist!!! The pictures collected from this project will be added to a database to be used with pattern recognition software to identify individual turtles and monitor populations around the country. You can record observations of turtles in-water, nesting (see note below), strandings or even turtle products (like jewellery or shells).

To view sea turtle sightings in Trinidad and Tobago by users of the TURT app click here.

(Scroll down for detailed instructions on how to use the app.)

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Juvenile Hawksbill Turtle at Castara Bay, Tobago. Photo Credit: Ryan Mannette

NOTE:

  • DO NOT use flash photography for nesting turtles;
  • ALWAYS maintain a distance of at least two metres (2m) from a nesting turtle;
  • NEVER touch or stand in the path of the turtle.
  • DO NOT chase, grab or otherwise harass turtles when snorkelling or diving.

Click here for some general guidelines when visiting turtle nesting beaches.

For best results with the identification software, you should ideally aim to get at least three (3) clear shots of the head (left, right and top) from as close as possible without disturbing or harassing the turtle. If these shots are not possible, still upload whatever you can get as all reports are valuable even if the photos are not ideal.

Click here for a handy turtle identification guide created by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) to assist in accurate species identification for the sightings you report.

Using the TURT mobile application.

  1. Download and install the app to your mobile device (Android or iOS).
  2. Click on the app icon to open it.
  3. Click on the “New Report” icon to begin your report. At this point, a disclaimer screen will appear with some basic instructions, click on “Agree” to continue.
  4. Follow the instructions at the top of each page. For additional instructions or clarification, click on the information icon at the top right corner of each page.

N.B. When adding pictures from your Android phone’s SD card, Google Drive or Dropbox click on “Photo Source” then browse to the location where the photo is saved.

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