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 or a computer with an internet connection. Simply snap a few photos of the turtle and upload them, using either the mobile app or the web link on your computer, 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.

To view global sea turtle sighting by users of the TURT app click here.

To add sea turtle sightings in Trinidad, click here and Tobago, click here.

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

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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.

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, only pictures saved in the  phone’s default camera folder can be accessed by the app (i.e. pictures saved on sd cards or custom folders will not be recognised by the app).

Using the web link.

  1. Click on the appropriate link to go to the island where the turtle was observed (for Trinidad, click here and for Tobago, click here).
  2. Zoom to the approximate location where the turtle was observed using the “+” and “-” symbols at the top left of the browser window (right-click and hold while dragging the mouse to “pan” or move the map without zooming).
  3. Once the map is showing the approximate location where you observed the turtle, click on “Edit” in the menu at the top left of the browser window to open the edit window.
  4. In the edit window, click on the appropriate species for the turtle you are reporting (you may have to scroll down using the slider to the right to see all options). If you are not sure of the species of the turtle you saw, click on “undetermined”.
  5. With the species selected, place the mouse pointer on the approximate spot on the map where the turtle was observed and right-click to add the turtle.
  6. In the report form that appears, fill in as many details as you can about the turtle. Note that fields highlighted in red with an “*” are mandatory.
  7. To add pictures to your report, click on “Choose file” at the bottom of the form and browse your computer for the files you want to upload.
  8. Once all the pictures are uploaded and your report is complete, close the report form by clicking on the “x” at the top right of the form window.
  9. To add another turtle report, repeat the above steps. If you have no more turtle reports to add, close the “Edit” window.

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