The worst was when the sand clumped together forming a washboard road on the beach. Then, our UTVs would vibrate so thoroughly as we rode over that it was like our brains were set on purée. At least it helped to keep us awake at 4 am, when we still hadn’t seen a sea turtle.
I spent many long summer nights riding in a UTV up and down miles of Alabama coastline to tag nesting loggerhead sea turtles. Yes, for those of you who might not have known: Alabama has a beach and sea turtles nest there. Loggerheads in particular nest along the northern Gulf of Mexico in many places, visiting the clear waters of north-western Florida east to vacation hotspots for Alabamans.
We were there to satellite-tag these loggerheads so we could begin to understand their movements and nesting habits. We tagged 39 lovely ladies from both Florida and Alabama and found something interesting: they were nesting in more than one location. This goes against the usual belief that turtles always return to the same beach to nest. The reasons for this are unclear, but what is clear is that population counts based on nests could be very wrong.
We also found out some other interesting things and you can read it all online thanks to PLOS ONE, a great peer-reviewed scientific journal with open access: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0066921
Citation: Hart KM, Lamont MM, Sartain AR, Fujisaki I, Stephens BS (2013) Movements and Habitat-Use of Loggerhead Sea Turtles in the Northern Gulf of Mexico during the Reproductive Period. PLoS ONE 8(7): e66921. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066921