Blog Post By: Rylie, Sea Turtle Intern
Hi everyone! I’m Rylie, one of the sea turtle interns here with EBSP this summer. I have really enjoyed the last 5 weeks, and I’m even more excited for the next few, because it’s almost hatching season! Hatching season is my favorite part of nesting season - it’s so rewarding to watch the hard work by both staff members and the sea turtles themselves pay off when the hatchlings make their trek to the ocean. I know the odds of catching a boil are rare, but I am hoping to see at least one because they are truly incredible to watch. Although the inventories can be smelly, I am looking forward to beginning those and seeing the hatch success of our nests.
Last summer, I worked as a Sea Turtle Intern with the Bald Head Island Conservancy (BHIC) in North Carolina. I gained a lot of experience working with nesting sea turtles, but every state and agency uses different methods and I’ve enjoyed learning so much with EBSP. Bald Head Island is another barrier island, and another popular nesting spot for the loggerhead sea turtle. It has been really interesting to see the differences in the landscapes, turtles, predators, and overall agency operations between BHIC and EBSP. For my BHIC internship, I was part of a team of 6 interns and we would patrol the beach every night from 9 pm to 6 am, making us effectively nocturnal! BHI is a satellite tagging beach, meaning we attempt to identify and tag every turtle that comes on to the beach. We flipper and PIT tagged each turtle if she didn’t already have them, and collected a variety of biological samples and morphometric data. Both agencies send DNA samples to UGA, which I thought was an interesting connection! Both also do Turtle Walks and Nest Adoptions - which are a great way to engage with members of the public who share our same passion. I’ve loved getting to work closely with our volunteers and get to know our visitors during our Night Walks, and I’m looking forward to the second half of the summer!
In the future, I am hoping to go to graduate school to research how sea turtles respond to human-induced environmental change, such as climate change. My two internships so far have led me to develop some potential research questions to examine through a Masters program, and I know these experiences will help me to be successful in the future. It is beyond rewarding to directly engage in sea turtle conservation in the field, and I hope my future research has an impact on sea turtle conservation as well.
Sea Turtle Biologist