Loggerhead sea turtles aid in NOAA research to protect the species

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Paris Janos visited Ben Higgins from the Galveston National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Lab on Wednesday Morning. Higgins is conducting research on Panama City Beach this month to help protect sea turtles.

Researchers are working on Turtle Excluder Devices, or TED's.

"Tens of thousands of sea turtles were drowning each year in shrimp trawls before the Turtle Excluder Device [TED] was invented and made mandatory in 1989," Higgins told Paris. "Each year we look at new and improved ted designs with the aim of making sure the very best technology is being used by the fisheries to save sea turtles."

NOAA's Panama City Beach lab has 220 loggerhead sea turtles on site, including 160 two-year-old and 60 yearlings.

"They were all collected as hatchlings, the day they hatched, from Melbourne Beach, Florida," Higgins said. "The hatchlings were transported back to NOAA Galveston Laboratory. This is the only program in the world where sea turtles are specifically raised for fisheries research with the goal of developing and testing sea turtle friendly fishing gear for the commercial fisheries."