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Student Updates & Press Releases


From July 29 through August 5, students from Professor Ann Somers Biology 361 class traveled to the Sea Turtle Conservancy Tortuguero Biological Field Station in Costa Rica. They had quite an experience tagging and collecting data from sea turtles bedded down for the night. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has conducted annual sea turtle nest monitoring studies along the 21-mile beach, the nesting site of more endangered sea turtles than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Three Honors students share their stories:

Kimberly ONeill: While in Tortuguero, Costa Rica we had life-changing experiences night after night. I remember being flattened out on the sand behind a sea turtle laying her eggs and counting them one by one as they fell. Not the sand in my eyes, the biting flies, nor the pitch black skies could discourage me from believing that was a truly majestic moment so few get to experience.

Three UNCG students doing the morning track survey which involved counting and marking tracks from the night before.
Jamie Phelps: Being able to experience what it is like to do field research has made me so much more excited for the work I hope to do in the future. We took carapace measurement with calipers and tape measures to find the straight carapace length and the curved carapace length. We also checked the bodies for tags and disfigurements. A lot of us were also lucky enough to count an egg clutch. There is something so moving about holding your hand under the cloaca and counting each potential life before it incubates. I was also fortunate enough to be part of the night patrol that saw the Hawksbill false crawl and the patrol that saw the Hawksbill nest and trans-locate its nest to keep it safe from poachers.

Students excavating a Leatherback nest.
Hannah Rhodes: Conservation is an important topic to discuss in today’s time where so much of the Earth is changing and impacting creatures all over. As such, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before to not only to go to another country, but to see hundreds of rare, endangered sea turtles while I was down there and be able to interact so closely with them! It was an honor to work with conservationists and learn under them and even help to check, measure, tag turtles, and even count eggs. From getting to speak with locals to having the opportunity to view the incredible wildlife- it was an experience better than I’d ever imagined. I’m very grateful to Professor Somers for all her help in organizing this for us!

Turtle up close and personal.