Sea Turtles

Population Assessments

The NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology’s sea turtle population assessment activities focus on improving the quality, type, and frequency of assessments, including:

  • Administer an internal Marine Turtle Stock Assessment Program, which is designed to support NOAA Fisheries Science Center projects that will improve sea turtle assessments by addressing themes drawn from ESA Recovery Plans and 5-year reviews, the 2010 NRC report on sea turtle assessments, and the marine protected species stock assessment implementation plan (SAIP), including data and analysis gaps.
  • Work with Science Centers to develop technical tools and criteria to improve our assessments of sea turtle stocks
  • Monitor the status of the stocks through current Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) measures and other performance metrics. These metrics are often used to inform research and budget planning for protected species science and our ability to completely or partially assess protected species stocks. An electronic monitoring system for the status of our stocks (Protected Resources - Species Information System, PR-SIS) is currently in development.
  • Work with science centers to develop strategies to increase survey efficiency and design, as well as leverage internal and external resources to conduct broad-scale and integrated ecosystem surveys using a variety of observation platforms including advanced technology such as unmanned systems, acoustic recorders, wave gliders, etc.
  • Work with Science Centers and Protected Resources regional and national management offices to help better prioritize our assessments given mission-critical management needs.

loggerhead 2


Ship-based and aerial surveys are critical to achieving NMFS’ sea turtle population assessment goals, which include abundance estimation and examination of trends and human impacts relative to management objectives. A limited number of marine mammal and sea turtle-focused surveys are conducted and managed by the six NMFS Science Centers. These often involve more than one center, as well as internal and external collaborators. The number of protected species surveys conducted each year is dependent on funding and available ship time allocated at the national level.

Sea turtle-related surveys conducted and/or participated in by NMFS recently include:

  • List of surveys goes here

For more information on surveys in which NMFS participates, see:

Sea Turtle Assessment Internal Funding Allocation (IFA)

The Sea Turtle Assessment IFA is designed to support NMFS Science Center-led projects that will improve the quality of sea turtle assessments by addressing themes drawn from the the 2013 Sea Turtle Assessment Status and Research Needs report, Endangered Species Act recovery plans and 5-year reviews, and the 2004 marine protected species stock assessment implementation plan (SAIP), including data and analysis gaps. Please visit our Research and Development: Sea Turtle Assessment IFA page to learn more about opportunities and funded projects.


turtle humerus cross-section

Histologically processed cross-section of a humerus collected from a stranded juvenile loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Lines of arrested growth(LAGs) are marked with thick, black lines. Photo: National Sea Turtle Aging Laboratory, NOAA/SEFSC.