This database was established by students in the KAUST Reef Ecology Lab in May 2019 to collect data on local populations of sea turtles throughout Saudi Arabian waters.


Lyndsey Tanabe,

KAUST PhD Student

T: +966565696463

E: Lyndsey.Tanabe@KAUST.edu.sa


Photo-Identification is a low-cost technique that can be used to track a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles. Unlike conventional tagging, Photo-ID is minimally intrusive, with no physical contact required between observer and turtle. This eliminates the risk of injury, infection and stress to turtles caused by tagging techniques. Photo-ID can elucidate animal movement patterns, life-history information, and population demographics. Ultimately our aim is to create a comprehensive Red Sea turtle photo database, facilitate collaboration with international researchers, and promote citizen science. We hope this work will uncover sea turtle migration routes, identify foraging and nesting hotspots, inform conservation management, improve international protection efforts, and educate the public.

Photo-ID relies on permanent, identifiable features or markings. For sea turtles, Photo-ID was developed by Jean et al. (2010) and uses shape, size and arrangement of facial scales or scutes. Photos of both the left and right side of a turtle’s face are used to identify individual turtles. Special computer software is then used to scan for matches to photos previously submitted to the database.

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