Big girls

Lab Note #1
Feb 19, 2014

Everyone seems to like our cover image - we thought we would give you all a better idea of what is going on in the picture and what happens when we come across a leatherback. We survey 18 km of beach from 9pm - 5am in search of nesting leatherbacks. Sometimes that means quietly navigating around 200-300 loggerhead and green sea turtles to find them. When we do find a nesting leatherback, the first thing we do is check her for tags. Since we've been tagging leatherbacks for 13 years, a good portion of the turtles we find already have tags. If tagged, we identify the individual. Each turtle gets a name, this allows us to remember her history. We know to check an old injury on "Haley" and to help "Clover" dig because she lost her flippers to shark bites and that we've seen "Spica" 28 times. It's fun to have a history with them! If they're not tagged, we attach two flipper tags (similar to cattle ear tags) to their rear flippers and they also get a microchip. Each female has a biopsy sample taken and we are beginning to construct a leatherback "family tree" to look at relatedness and population origin. Lastly, we measure every turtle (the average is about 153 cm shell length) and check them over for any injuries. We leave them to nest in peace and move on down the beach.

Our work is incredibly rewarding and the information that we have gained is invaluable. Thank you all for your support!

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