Here on Koh Tao, we are lucky enough to get the chance to see sea turtles during diving and snorkelling trips. There are only 7 different species of sea turtle left on the planet and the majority of those species are threatened with extinction. Here we mainly see Hawksbill turtles and Green turtles, and so as a community we have started to ID and track these precious creatures.
There are over 800 observations in the database and that has really helped improve the quality of the data this year. A total of over 100 turtles have been recorded around the island, with some of the sightings showing a return of some individuals. While undoubtedly Koh Tao is an important location for turtles, we definitely need more input from outside our one little island. The good news is that the database is growing and our understanding is improving.
Unfortunately, a quarter of all of the green turtles recorded were found dead afterwards. This number goes up if you start to include turtles that had to be rescued and/or sent to Chumphon for recovery. In order to understand how these animals are being affected, there is a growing importance to record sightings.
By taking a clear picture of the head on both sides, and a picture of the entire turtle, we can apply a computer algorithm to the unique scutes on the face. We can then combine that data with any clear markings on the shell. The individual can then be recorded into the database as either a new or a returning individual.
If you're interested in learning more about sea turtles and how to identify the different species, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the SSI Turtle Ecology course.