Frank Lund’s Jupiter Island Sea Turtle Tagging Project 1969-1981

The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research (ACCSTR) at the University of Florida has developed the Legacy Database Initiative (Preserving the Past to Save the Future) to:

  • Preserve, archive, and computerize the unique and valuable data that have been collected on sea turtle populations from Florida and around the world over the past decades,
  • Organize the necessary metadata associated with these data, and
  • Ensure that these data are available to future generations of sea turtle biologists and conservationists to promote sea turtle conservation.  We envision that some databases will allow for complete access while others may have restricted access depending on the wishes of the data collectors.

The second database to be included in the Legacy Database Initiative is the data from Frank Lund’s Jupiter Island Sea Turtle Tagging Project 1969-1981 (JISTTP).  The funding to computerize the data and organize the necessary metadata associated with Frank Lund’s JISTTP was provided in part by a grant awarded to ACCSTR from the Sea Turtle Grants Program.  The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate.  Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org

Sea Turtle License Plate

Computerizing these data was a team project of the ACCSTR.  Participants were Peter Eliazar, Melania López-Castro, Mariela Pajuelo, Joe Pfaller, LucianoSoares, Hannah Vander Zanden, Patricia Zárate, Alan Bolten and Karen Bjorndal.

Frank Lund’s Jupiter Island Sea Turtle Tagging Project:  1969-1981

This database contains the tagging records for loggerheads (Caretta caretta), green turtles (Chelonia mydas), leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), and hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) from a project conducted on Jupiter Island, Florida, from 1969 through 1981.

This database contains important data from the early years of sea turtle tagging in Florida.  One example is that during this period, Frank Lund witnessed the beginning and rapid increase of green turtle nesting on Jupiter Island.  Such quantitative data from the early years are critical for evaluating the growth of the green turtle nesting population in Florida.  Most of these data are not available, even in a summarized form.  Publications based on these data are a note about a hawksbill nesting on Jupiter Island (Lund 1985) and Frank’s unpublished Master’s thesis (Lund 1986) that focused on clutch frequency and site fixity in loggerheads in two of the years (1980 and 1981; 2785 observed nestings).

Why these data are important 

Sea turtle research programs initiated over the last five decades have generated critical information for the conservation and management of sea turtle populations.  Data from many of these studies of sea turtles in Florida, and around the world, are in danger of being lost in the relatively near future as the originators and holders of these data age.  If the data are not preserved, valuable and irreplaceable data will be lost, with serious consequences for the conservation of sea turtles.  These datasets cannot be replaced because the data were collected in past years or decades under different environmental conditions and turtle densities.  Although publications have been produced from some of these data sets, many present and future biologists will be more interested in the raw data to pursue innovative analyses than the summaries presented in the published papers.  To preserve these data, they must not only be computerized, but the data must also be carefully documented with the methods used in their collection, such as descriptions of effort, how turtles were measured, etc.  Collectively, this associated information is called “metadata” (Michener 2000).  These datasets, and the accompanying metadata should be made available at a permanent website, so that all biologists, conservationists, and managers can access the data.

Several global databases have been established to compile and preserve sea turtle distribution and abundance data, such as OBIS-Seamap, State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility(Mast et al. 2008; Halpin et al. 2009; Gilman et al. in press).  However, the Legacy Database Initiative, founded with funding from the Sea Turtle License Plate Grant Program in 2008, is the only program designed to compile and preserve sea turtle tagging data.  The great need for accessibility to sea turtle tagging data is emphasized in the report from the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Review of Sea Turtle Population Assessment Methods (NRC 2010).  The critical need for such computerized databases to preserve scientific data in general has been the subject of numerous studies, most recently the report “Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age” issued by a National Academy of Sciences Committee (NRC 2009; Kleppner and Sharp 2009).

Literature Cited

  • Gilman, E., N. King, T. Peterson, V. Chavan, M. Chaloupka, and A. Hahn.  In press.  State of biodiversity dataset integration and priority next steps for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
  • Halpin, P.N., A.J. Read, E. Fujioka, B.D. Best, B. Donnelly, L.J. Hazen, C. Kot, K.Urian, E. LaBrecque, A. Dimatteo, J. Cleary, C. Good, L.B. Crowder, and K.D. Hyrenbach.  2009.  OBIS-SEAMAP:  The World Data Center for Marine Mammal, Sea Bird, and Sea Turtle Distributions.  Oceanography 22:104:115.
  • Kleppner, D. and P.A. Sharp.  2009.  Research data in the digital age.  Science 325:368.
  • Lund, P.F.  1985.  Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting on the east coast of Florida.  Journal of Herpetology 19:164-166.
  • Lund, P.F.  1986.  Nest production and nesting-site tenacity of the loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, on Jupiter Island, Florida.  M.S. thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32 pp.
  • Mast, R.B., B.J. Hutchinson, M. Fernanda Perez, and B. Best.  2008.  The State of the Worlds Sea Turtles (SWOT) 2004.  Page 58 in Kalb, H.J.,A. Rohde, K.Gayheart and K. Shanker (compilers) Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-582.
  • Michener, W.K.  2000.  Metadata.  Pages 92-116 in: Ecological Data – Design, Management and Processing.  Michener, W.K. and J.W. Brunt, eds. Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, England.
  • NRC (National Research Council).  2009.  Ensuring the integrity, accessibility, and stewardship of research data in the digital age.  The National Academies Press, Washington DC.
  • NRC (National Research Council).  2010.  Assessment of sea-turtle status and trends: integrating demography and abundance.  National Academies Press, Washington, DC.  162 pages.  Authors:  K.A. Bjorndal (chair), B.W. Bowen, M. Chaloupka, L.B. Crowder, S.S. Heppell, C.M. Jones, M.E.Lutcavage, D. Policansky, A.R. Solow, and B.E. Witherington.

For further information, please contact:

Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research
PO Box 118525
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA
Email: accstr@ufl.edu