UGA researchers get $1.3 million grant for loggerhead research - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

UGA researchers get $1.3 million grant for loggerhead research

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Researchers at the University of Georgia have received a grant to continue genetically "fingerprinting" loggerhead sea turtles.

UGA says that the $1.3 million grant will allow researchers to continue their work with the threatened loggerhead sea turtles in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The DNA fingerprinting of the turtles allows researchers to identify turtle mothers and their offspring. That helps the researchers to gauge how well the loggerheads are recovering after decades of population decline.

Researchers don't know how many loggerhead sea turtles are nesting in these three states. With research efforts of the Northern Recovery Unit Loggerhead DNA project, they can use genetic techniques to identify nesting females and come up with population numbers.

The project has been in place in Georgia since 2008. The latest grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration allows UGA researchers to continue the sampling effort for another three years.

The research also includes partners at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Loggerhead sea turtles were put on the endangered species list in the 1970s.

UGA says that during the 2013 nesting season, the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative counted a new record of nearly 2,300 loggerhead nests, up from a low of 358 in 2004.

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