Catching Turtles with Kayaks

Hello everyone, A question that you maybe haven’t come across before, but would like some advice on.

I run a sea turtle monitoring program, part of which involves free diving down to a turtle bringing it back to the boat, tagging it, collecting other information from it and releasing it. At the moment we use a motor boat which is prohibitively expensive.

We have recently won some funding to get some kayaks to help in monitoring nesting beaches on 2 offshore islands, but I would like to be able to use these kayaks for the catch/release program mentioned above. As far as I can see it the, the best combination would be to have 1 tandem and 2 x single kayaks. The remaining problem is what kayaks to choose?

After looking around I have 2 choices. Either I use what I find locally, which is a 130t Tarpon and 2 x 100 tarpons and avoid shipping costs. Or, I go for a Hobie Kona and 2 x hobie quests and swallow the shipping costs. At the end of the day I want to get the best boats for job, and I don’t want to be taking chances in terms of their ability to handle the work. I also have real concerns over the amount of dry storage available on the 130t - it doesn’t look big.

Anyone have any advice. If you had both sets of boats in front of you - which would you go for?

Thanks for any help you can give

I’d wouldn’t mess around with less personally. Great platform for what you describe.

T160 is pretty neutral to wind and will be a lot less “corky” out there. Better ride with more speed and capacity will make the work easier and more enjoyable, and better speed adds some margin of safety offshore.

you’ll never catch a turtle with a kayak
focus instead on the turtles with canoes

they’re pokier

Sit on tops

Posted by: ice9 on Nov-24-06 3:42 PM (EST)

For use in a catch/release program of animal that size I would say to use a SOT (I see the flames already). A sit inside kayak (SINK) might not be stable enough for that use.

I think thet are already hip to the SOT…hence the T140 and the Hobie’s…not many divers out there using sik…

Go with one of the Cobra’s, especially
the Fish and Dive. A barge to paddle, but extremely stable and great capacity and designed for diving.

for some reason I was thinking the T140 was a SINK. I’ll delete the post

still think the scupper pro
would be a great choice. not a barge but low seat makes it stable, and it is fast. Less work to get out there. has a tankwell and lots of dry storage. wetter overall ride but that does not seem to be a consideration.


Thanks everyone for your help and input,

Shipping boats down from the US is usually expensive (about $2000 for the 3 boats). The tarpon 130t, 100 Mainstream Tango, Kingfish and Beat are the only boats that I can get down here locally.

That said, if none of these boats are really cut out for the work, then I’d rather spend the extra and get the right equipment sent down. The currents around where we work are some of the strongest in the region and while I’m not stupid enough to think that just the kayak selection is important when being safe, I also don’t want to be out there in a boat that was essentially designed for tourists to use in a pond.

I know its difficult for anyone to say, ‘Yes, absolutely that boat or this boat will work’.

I suppose at the end of the day the question is whether the cost and effort of shipping is worth it?


P.S. We don’t actually have to chase the turtles down with kayaks. The boats would work as a type of support platform with the divers doing the catching

working from paddlecraft
Here is my 2 cents!

I have done some catch and release work from both kayak and canoe. If i understand your objective you will be working in water too deep to stand in and work in. I use a scupper pro which is OK for work that can be done in shallows or beach areas. Tagging and working with a large animal like a turtle will require a somewhat stable platform. Especially if exiting and entering the boat from deep water. I have also used a canoe (MR explorer 16). With the kayak paddle floats can be helpful re-entering the boat but I saw a colleague using a specialized set of pontoons that strap to the sides of any boat and provide exceptional stability for working.

I suggest you choose a boat that fits your needs storage and capacity. Then add some sort of outrigger system for stability.

Good Luck,

Big Mac

Sea Turtles
I conducted a tagging program of juvenile greens from 1986 to 1991. My captures were made at night using Scuba. We used an inflatable Avon as well as a simple inner tube and basket device. 145 greens of 30 to 60 cm curved length were captured by hand, tagged and released.

I have considered starting the program again and would probably go with SOT type vessels. Our reefs are pretty close to shore so efficiency of paddling is not so important.


Ocean Kayak Prowler
The OK Prowler is one to think about because it has a really high weight capacity, and is very stable. It is a favortie with ocean fishermen out here in NORCAL

Where are you located?