Last week the CEI Sea Turtle Research Team had the opportunity to collaborate for the third time with Julius Rankine, who operates Fishbone Tours in Savannah Sound. Julius offers interactive expeditions including fishing, snorkeling, and learning about local wildlife conservation. For the last six years, he has also offered a turtle catching experience, contributing data to our sea turtle database. After hundreds of turtle chases, he has gained extensive knowledge of the turtles’ habitat and behavior, and the best ways to catch them.The sea turtle team and Julius aboard his boat in Savannah Sound.

Our day was spent getting to know the area, learning about where each species of turtles can be found, and practicing the Bahamian method of catching a turtle. Julius was entertained by our official method of jumping off the side of the boat and swimming after the turtle, but didn’t think we would ever catch it. Instead, members of the team tried diving off the bow to get our hands on the turtle when they came up for air to avoid the tiring swim. The team caught and tagged eight new green sea turtles with his method, but the ninth proved too smart to let the boat get close. Finally, one of our interns jumped in the water, swam, and dove to capture the individual, proving that sometimes it takes more than one method to catch a turtle.

Interns prepare to tag one of the nine new juvenile green sea turtles.

Julius was able to teach us a great deal about Savannah Sound and the local turtle populations, while we shared more of our methods and research background with him.  Tagging in Savannah Sound would present the opportunity to catch a new group of green sea turtles, as well as hawksbills and loggerheads, which are much more rarely caught and tagged around Eleuthera.