The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered species. Hence, various conservation efforts by groups such as ProTECTOR are taking place to stabilize its population. To support such efforts, my study focused on the turtle population in and around the island of Utila, Honduras. Specifically, I examined the critical migration period of hawksbill turtle hatchlings from nest to water to determine if various densities of plastic pollution had an effect on crawling times. A reduction in crawling time is critical for it could increase predation time. Furthermore, the pollution debris may deter movement, causing the hatchling to expand additional energy before they reach the ocean. To test the effect of plastic pollution, we constructed four experimental corridors (ranging from 8-10 m in length) with varying densities of pollution and recorded hatchling crawling time from start to finish (10 hatchlings/corridor). Crawling rates differed significantly across corridors (Kruskal-Wallis H test). In addition, a potential baseline pattern of turtle abundance at dive locations around the island was determined through a survey of turtle sightings. Through ArcGIS, these specific GPS points of reported turtle sightings was plotted to observe any patterns of distribution.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/tom_goodwin/38/