To see more about the STRETCH project, please visit the HPA Sea Turtle Research Program web site . To learn more about the North Pacific Loggerheads. we are working with, please visit George Balazs’ web page.

The Stretch Team has been meeting regularly to plan out the logistics and procedures for the completion of this ambitions scientific research experiment involving juvenile loggerhead turtles and the hypothesis that there is a "THERMAL CORRIDOR' that presents itself at irregular intervals and permits juvenile pelagic loggerhead to make the journey all the way across to Baja Sur.  This hypothesis was formulated in a paper by Dana Briscoe (Briscoe et. al. 2021) that set up the thermal corridor hypothesis in an attempt to explain why only a few of the over 200 satellite tagged juvenile loggerheads have made it all the way to North America (Baja Sur)- Note the rectangle in the image above showing the 6 animals that made it to or near to Baja.

The plan is to release a series of juvenile loggerhead cohorts (~25 turtles) each year for a period of 4 years in the hopes that the releases will coincide with variations in the sea surface temperature in the region of the theoretical thermal corridor.  The thought is that the cohorts will experience some years of cold water and and some of warm water in the region of the thermal corridor.  The hypothesis is that during warm water periods, some of the satellite tagged loggerheads will traverse the "corridor" and make their way to North America, Baja Sur.

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium's Director (Masanori Kurita) and Professor Tomomi Saito (Kochi University) have been able to procure ~30 loggerhead hatchlings and are raising them at the aquarium's Chelonia Institute to a size of between 25 and 35 cm straight carapace length (a size at which they are able to accommodate a small satellite tag). The juvenile loggerheads are expected to be big enough in mid to late April, 2023 and will represent the first cohort to be released near the Thermal Corridor.

In preparation for the actual tagging and deployment of the juvenile loggerheads somewhere relatively near the theoretical thermal corridor, Chief investigation Larry Crowder and colleagues George Balazs and Marc Rice will travel to Nagoya to clarify logistics, tag attachment procedures, and discuss the release of the tagged juvenile loggerhead from a MOL car transport ship.

We will be meeting with Director Kurita and Professor Saito on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium.  We will tour the Chelonia Institute, the main aquaraium and discuss a series of important issues relating to the research.  On the 17th and / or 18th we will practice attaching a "mock" Wildlife Computers satellite tag to a juvenile loggerhead at the aquarium to make sure that the tag fits that size of turtle appropriately and to refine the attachment procedure.  We have attached over 200 satellite tags to these same sized turtles (1997-2013) but the tags produced now are a slightly different configuration and we must be sure that they fit.

Below are some pictures of the old style spot 5 tag and the new spot6 version 387.  As you can see the newer version is a bit longer and may pose some challenges with fitting it between the spines on the central scutes of the carapace.  

Photos by George H. Balazs

Spot5 on top and spot 6 below.

Spot5 below. 

As you can see, the spot6 is a little longer than the old spot5

STRETCH Goodwill Coordinating Meeting

Talking Points for the STRETCH Goodwill Coordinating Meeting with PNPA and Kochi University Colleagues, 16-18 November 2022.
-Welcome and Self-Introductions- Words of Mutual Appreciation.
Completed during first meeting and again when Tomomi Saito arrived on day 2.

-Designation of a notetaker to record significant outcomes during our time together.
Don't think this ever happened.

- Overview and History of the Stretch Project- by Professor Crowder including 12-min video of Larry's Stretch presentation.

Self explanatory- Larry made the presentation and Tomomi and Dana were on line (zoom)

-Update on rearing of cohort Year 1 turtles for 2023 release, and cohort Year 2 turtles for 2024 release. Visit to see the turtles and learn about rearing techniques.
On day 3 we were able to go and visit the turtles in cohort 1 and 2.  They look in very good health... vigorous, well fed and growing fast.

-Update to the extent known on ship schedule for late April/early May 2023 and Japan port of departure.

Kurita san explained that MOL has some sailings coming up in late March or early April, 2023.  He said that we would know the sailing date (plus or minus 3 days) one month ahead.

-Possibility of holding a Bon Voyage; formal send-off "Red Ribbon Cutting & quot; ceremony at PNPA for the Stretch turtles- including banners, publicity and attendance by local officials, MOL officials, school children, news media, and the general public.

-Possibility and/or the need/importance for Kurita, Saito, Crowder, Rice and Balazs together to meet in person with MOL Officials. A courtesy visit to pay respects and express appreciation.

-Ship's Ports of Call in Mexico/Panama Canal and the USA East Coast.

- USA and other Visas for Professor Saito and PNPA person accompany the turtles for release.

-Traveler Health Insurance Coverage for Professor Saito and PNPA person.

- Travel expenses to cover transport to ship, shipboard lodging, hotel lodging East Coast USA, meals and incidentals, and flight home to Japan (to place of residence) for Professor Saito and PNPA person.

-Shipboard internet access and Iridium satellite phone for Professor Saito and PNPA person.

-PIT tags/flipper tag(s) for the Stretch turtles.

-Final date/deadline for determining release coordinates for the turtles.
Back-up release plan, should sea conditions not allow opening the door close to sea surface shown in Director Kuritas photo. Ropes, baskets, materials and assembly for lowering and release of the turtles from a higher deck, if it becomes necessary.
-Non-invasive samples from Stretch turtles for genetics by Japanese researchers (Kochi University?)

-Video documentation contracted expert from Japan to accompany Professor Saito and PNPA person; video of rearing of turtles and of tag attachment work; video of egg collection and initial hatchling
rearing at Kochi University.

-April/May 2023 satellite tag attachment team- students from the Hawaii PreparatoryAcademy (HPA)- lodging, meals and other coordination, including opportunities for educational group interactions, cross-cultural sessions, with students from the Nagoya

-Mapping and map distribution of satellite tracking results- initially every 7-10 days,thereafter once a month. And/or possibility of automated daily map updating for each turtle through state-of-the-art Stretch web site.

-Coordination of public relations educational outreach, including web site development.How best to support each other plans. Two separate website plans or one?

-ANA All Nippon Airways Turtle Motif passenger planes- possible avenue for additionaladvertising of Stretch.

-Feasibility of an outside well-ventilated and shaded area to do the attachment of satellite tags.

-Practice attachment of mock satellite tag during the present visit to adapt for different design of the new Spot 387 tag.

-Locally sourced fresh polyester and epoxy resins for practice attachment of a mock satellite tag in preparation for April/May 2023 attachments.


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