Here is some information from one our Student Green Fund participants. Read about her project below:
My name is Sarah and I am a third year student studying Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Lincoln. I was fortunate enough to join the Operation Wallacea organisation on their Mexico Expedition over the summer for my third year dissertation project with the help of the Green Fund Award.
I spent six weeks with the research team in Mexico studying the behaviour of both the green sea turtle and the behaviour of the tourists in the Bay of Akumal. The project has been running for three years now due to the popularity of the ‘swim with the turtles’ wildlife tours that are on offer. There has been a growing concern for the health of the turtles due to the amount of tourists entering the bay and disturbing them due to the snorkel experience.
The project collected data of the behaviours expressed by the turtles in relation to the tourist’s behaviour through 12 hours a day of focal observations. There has been much development this year to try and minimise the amount of touching and grabbing of the turtles with a life jacket rule, and the government have now took action working alongside Operation Wallacea to produce a protocol for the effective management of both turtles and tourists. There will be a no tourist zone which will allow the turtles a means of escape from the tourist area. This will also keep the local economy running and maintain the economy as opposed to a total ban of tourists entering the bay.