Nerine Constant and Alexandra Gulick recently returned from a very successful expedition on a Greenpeace research vessel in the Sargasso Sea where they evaluated the thermal properties of Sargassum mats — important developmental habitat for sea turtles — and how those properties may be affected by climate change. Alexandra and Nerine are PhD Candidates in Karen Bjorndal and Alan Bolten’s lab at the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research and Department of Biology.
“We quantified thermal habitat for sea turtles in Sargassum mats in the Sargasso Sea. Sargassum mats are critical habitat for a number of species and provide refuge, forage, and early developmental habitat for juvenile sea turtles. More recently, it has been hypothesized that Sargassum may provide a thermal advantage to developing sea turtles, providing a warmer environment than the neighboring open water, thus potentially increasing sea turtle growth rates.” –Alexandra Gulick
“Creating detailed thermal profiles of Sargassum mats will improve our understanding of the importance of this habitat, and in light of climate change, may help predict potential impacts of increasing sea surface temperature on the suitability of this habitat for sea turtles and other species. We hope this study and our collaboration with Greenpeace will help raise awareness of the importance of protecting the Sargasso Sea from anthropogenic threats like climate change and plastic pollution.” –Nerine Constant
This work has been highlighted by multiple media sources, including the following: