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Turtles by Carlos and Akeem

We swim in the slow lane because we love turtles! We work with researchers from the Marine Life Center. They study the habits of three endangered turtles - the leatherback, green sea, and loggerhead turtle. All of these turtles lay their eggs on our beach, so we wanted to know how many loggerhead babies make it from their nest to the water?

What did we do?
We searched the beach for signs of turtles that hatched overnight. We found two nests and marked their locations with a GPS device. We looked for turtle tracks coming out of the nest and checked for signs of where the babies headed away from the ocean by mistake. Then we excavated the nests to look for signs of predators and counted the number of empty eggs.

What did we find out?
The first nest we found showed no turtle tracks going the wrong way. When we dug out the nest, we found mostly empty eggshells, a good sign. There were only a few unhatched eggs. The second nest didn't do so well. We found quite a few unhatched eggs and signs that ants had attacked. The nest was also really wet, which may have had something to do with why fewer turtles survived. We did rescue one baby turtle, and brought it back to the turtle "nursery".

What can you do?
  • As Carlos and Akeem's investigation shows, sea turtles (and other reptiles) lay eggs. Most mammals do not. How else do mammals and reptiles differ? How are they the same? Think about diet, body structure and life cycle.
  • You can do Carlos and Akeem's investigation in your hometown! Talk to your local Department of Natural Resources about what animals they track. What are their tracking methods? For example, find out how many deer live in your area now and how many lived there five and ten years ago. What are some possible natural and human-made reasons for an increase or decrease in population? Record your findings.
  • Find out about threatened or endangered animals in your area. Why are these creatures disappearing? What natural predators or obstacles do they face? What human-made conditions endanger these animals? Why? What can you do to increase the species' chances of survival?
  • Use this life science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
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