Sea Turtles of the Georgia Coast

Cover, Sea Turtles of the Georgia CoastThe Cumberland Island Museum has published Sea Turtles of the Georgia Coast by Carol Ruckdeschel (Cumberland Island Museum), C. Robert Shoop (University of Rhode Island), and George R. Zug (National Museum of National History, Smithsonian Institution).  The 100-page book includes interesting life history details of sea turtles, including feeding habits and other aspects of their biology. Much of the information presented is in response to the many questions posed to the authors over the past few years.

Species IdentificationWritten for the general public as well as the scientific community, the text is amplified by numerous drawings and illustrations. A 16-page appendix provides detailed instruction on analyzing specimens to differentiate between species.

The book describes the five species found in the Western North Atlantic: Leatherback, Loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, Green sea turtle, and Hawksbill. Leatherbacks and green sea turtles deposit occasional clutches of eggs in Georgia, but only the Loggerhead nests there regularly. The authors present details of nesting behavior, egg sizes and numbers, and other aspects.

Loggerhead turtleReaders will also learn about problems sea turtles face in Georgia and along the East Coast of the U.S. With diminishing nesting habitat, altered foraging habitat, considerable mortality from commercial fisheries, and hungry feral swine as egg predators, our sea turtles face daunting challenges.

The book provides keys to species identification. Dichotomous keys to turtles both live and dead, intact or partial carcasses, and to certain bones and skulls of all five local species enable the reader to identify any species found in Georgia. Sketches are provided to help clarify distinctions.

The book is the first in the Museum’s Occasional Publications Series, designed to provide information to the public and scholars on subjects related to Museum activities, Cumberland Island, and the nearby coastal area.

Thanks to the Savannah Presbytery for providing a grant to the Museum to help with distributing the sea turtle book free to schools and libraries along the coast.

Information about Sea Turtles of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States is available here.

All sea turtles are on the Endangered Species List and are protected by law. Readers are encouraged to report any sightings of dead animals to the state Department of Natural Resources.