The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project is the longest, continuously running hawksbill research program in the world. Since 1987, we have monitored the hawksbill sea turtle nesting colony on Long Island, Antigua in the West Indies. We are a member of WIDECAST.

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E: seth@jbhp.org

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INITIATIVES

Long Island, better known as Jumby Bay, is a 300-acre private island located off Antigua’s northeastern coast. The island’s isolation from the mainland has created a haven for nesting hawksbills – and an excellent opportunity to study them. The JBHP is a scientifically rigorous research project, based on intensive monitoring of Jumby Bay’s nesting beaches. Saturation tagging, or ensuring that every turtle nesting on Pasture Beach is identified, forms the foundation for our research. As the longest, continuous-running hawksbill study in the world, we have the ability to address unique ecological questions while continuing to explore new research opportunities.

PATROLS

From June 1 to November 16 each year, the field team intensively monitors nightly hawksbill nesting activities on Pasture Beach and adjoining pocket beaches. The researchers patrol the beaches hourly, on foot, from sunset to sunrise, collecting data on hawksbill reproductive ecology. After a female has selected a nesting site and excavated the egg chamber, she enters a “nesting trance” and begins to lay her eggs. This period allows the turtle team to gather necessary data while minimizing disturbance.   Each individual is marked with unique flipper tags and a distinctive notch in the carapace. The turtle’s size, condition, and nesting habitat are recorded. These consistent, replicate surveys allow us to assess the reproductive output, population status and demographics, and long-term trends of Jumby Bay’s hawksbill colony.

SATELLITE TRACKING

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GENETICS

JBHP collaborator Kate Levasseur is looking at the fine-scale genetic structure of hawksbills nesting at Jumby Bay and surrounding beaches of Antigua and Barbuda. One of the most interesting findings of this research is the close relatedness of many Jumby nesters: Kate has identified over 40 mother-daughter pairs, providing evidence of natal-homing to a 1000-meter nesting site. She has also found that the hawksbills nesting on Barbuda are genetically different than those nesting on Antigua, showing that nesting stock structure can exists on a scale as small as 50km in the eastern Caribbean.

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STABLE ISOTOPES

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OUTREACH

The key to conservation is education.

The JBHP has accumulated a wealth of research experience and knowledge about hawksbill population ecology, nesting and reproduction over the past few decades. We’re proud to be able to share this information and our experiences with others through a variety of educational outlets, including:

  • Hosting experiential Turtle Watches;

  • Visiting schools;

  • Partnering with local and regional organizations, such as Antigua’s Environmental Awareness Group, and

  • Hosting international researchers through training exchange programs.