A Sea Turtle Tech’s Summer on Sapelo

Hi, my name is Sara Weaver, and I work on Sapelo Island as a Georgia DNR sea turtle technician. I’ve been interested in turtles since December 2014, when I visited Costa Rica and got to work with olive ridley hatchlings. After that, during my undergraduate at Purdue University in Indiana, I focused a lot of my wildlife projects on sea turtles. This is my first job since I graduated in May, and I love it!

My day starts at 5 am. I’m a morning person, so this doesn’t really pose a problem. I pack up my Kawasaki Mule with posts, predator screens, a tape measure, shovel, bucket, test tubes and a GPS before beginning my surveys on Sapelo’s coastline. Today, Mark Dodd, Georgia DNR’s sea turtle coordinator, joined me on patrol at 7 am (I got to sleep in!). Mark was training me on nest inventories.

Today, we had three new nests laid overnight. I relocated two of them for part of a long-running research project. On Sapelo, we randomly relocate 50 percent of our nests. We also place predator screens on a random 50 percent of the nests.

For the nest inventory, we dug up a nest that had hatched eight days earlier and counted the number of hatched eggs, unhatched eggs and dead hatchlings inside the nest cavity. It smells pretty bad, and your hands carry the smell all afternoon. Mark wasn’t fazed at all, but I think I’ll be wearing gloves from here on out.

I finished the day on an especially good note because I made it into my apartment just 5 minutes before a big thunderstorm hit. It’s the little things. 🙂

Sara is posting this week as part of #7Days4SeaTurtles, a social media-based effort by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division to raise awareness of sea turtle conservation.

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