Leatherback season is really getting underway right now. We have encountered a total of six leatherbacks so far. We typically have around 100 -300 encounters a year depending on the nesting trends. We will be expanding our survey efforts as we get into the heart of season in the next day or two. Once again, this is all because of all of you! So thank you again! Real updates from the field can be found on our leatherback field blog.
We work from 9pm - 5am. Most people wonder how we do it every night. There is a lot of coffee, a lot of snack breaks, and a lot of pep talks. But for the most part - we do it because we love the turtles and we're passionate about science. Through this project, we've learned so much. And that's motivating enough.
But there is another factor that drives us - the night sky. As the country becomes more developed, fewer and fewer people have the opportunity to see the night sky. And even here, sky glow from the city prevents us from seeing many of the stars in the sky. In fact, over two-thirds of all humans live under a sky polluted by artificial light. But on a clear, dark night, the sky is one of the prettiest things you'll ever see. As turtle biologists, one of our goals is to eliminate unnecessary lighting. Light pollution threatens nesting season turtles and their hatchlings. But turtles aren't the only victims of increasing light pollution. Countless birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are impacted by light pollution.
Check out this great article about light pollution and some amazing photography that features our own leatherback research. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/light-pollution/klinkenborg-text Make sure to click on the photo gallery too.
Staring at the night sky is one of the most engaging things you can do. Next time you have the chance, go somewhere dark. Whether it's the middle of the county, the middle of the state, or the middle of nowhere, just get out of the city on a clear night and stare at the sky. See if you can find a few constellations, or a satellite, or maybe you'll be lucky enough to spot a meteor. Trust us, you won't be disappointed!