Another new graduate student, Beth Whitman, spent a week on island
thinking about her future dissertation projects. Her first post after the jump.
My first week of field work was an incredible experience! Hope Town locals Thomas and Lory shared their turtle catching skills with us, and we were able to successfully capture, observe and release 10 green turtles and 2 hawksbill turtles. Three of the green turtles were recaptures that had been tagged by Thomas several years ago. Information gained from recaptures is incredibly valuable, as it gives us insight into their site fidelity, growth rates and tagging success. We’re happy to report that all three have grown since their initial capture and all of the tags were retained with no complications.
When we catch a turtle we take basic measurements such as curved carapace length (CCL), carapace width, tail length, and weight; we do a visual inspection and take note of any definitive markings, algae and barnacle cover, and healed or fresh injuries; if the turtle is not tagged we apply two flipper tags; we also take a lot of pictures of each individual for cataloging and future identification. Keep in mind that all of this is probably less stressful for the turtle than a doctor’s visit is for a child (or you!). Here are a few pictures that demonstrate CCL measurement, noteworthy markings, and some other turtle glamour shots (A and B are green turtles; C and D are hawksbill turtles; look closely to see how unique each individual is!).