Caretta Research Project (Savannah Science Museum)

A nonprofit organization

6 donors

37% complete

$3,000 Goal

Join us in celebrating 51 years of sea turtle research and conservation on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge in 2023!

Caretta Research Project is a hands-on research, conservation and education program dedicated to studying and protecting  the threatened loggerhead sea turtles that nest on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge.  

Historically, sea turtles have faced a multitude of threats worldwide, including drowning in commercial fishing nets and longlines, habitat destruction due to coastal development, poaching of eggs and adult turtles for meat, and beach predators that eat eggs and hatchlings.  The populations along the east coast of the US faced this decline in the 1960's and 70's.   

The Savannah Science Museum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wassaw Island Trust recognized this decline early on and took steps to initiate the CRP to investigate and reverse these declines.   The main objectives of CRP are to:

  • learn more about population trends and reproductive biology of loggerhead sea turtles.
  • enhance the survival of eggs and hatchlings on a nesting beach where loss to predators and beach erosion have historically been high.
  • educate and involve the public in research and conservation efforts for the loggerhead turtle.

These initiatives are working, as we have seen a significant increase in nesting.  The twelve highest nesting seasons in the project's 50+ year history have occurred since 2010, and this increase is due to early intervention in protecting nests, as well as the availability of our historic database to coastal managers to implement scientifically based management plans.  However, we caution against assuming that Georgia’s loggerhead sea turtle population has fully recovered.  It is crucial that projects like the CRP continue long into the future, as many of these threats still exist and new challenges become more prevalent.  Since 1973, CRP has:

  • Helped produce a significant increase in loggerhead nesting on Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Marked and studied 2,117 individual turtles throughout their reproductive lives.
  • Protected and monitored 6,067 nests, leading to the successful release of over 418,725 hatchlings. 
  • Involved more than 3,700 people from all 50 states and 6 different countries in hands-on sea turtle research and conservation. 
  • Provided data, support and infrastructure for conducting scientific research on sea turtles, leading to the production of 61 scientific publications and 29 research presentations.
  • Trained 30 interns that have subsequently pursued careers in biology, environmental science and education. 
  • Connected more than 450 people with the lives of nesting turtles through the Adopt-A-Turtle program. 

Any gifts received will allow us to continue to study and protect Georgia's sea turtles and involve the public in our conservation efforts!


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Organization name

Caretta Research Project (Savannah Science Museum)

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PO BOX 9841



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