Turtle Trackers: - Indiana University Southeast

ius.edu

Turtle Trackers: - Indiana University Southeast

IU Southeastuniversity news For alumni and friends WINTER 2011Turtle Trackers:IU Southeast field biology students headto Egypt’s Red Sea coast to follow thetravels of green sea turtles. p. 14Also inside:IU Southeast senior Jazzmarr Fergusonlights up the men’s basketball team.p. 9Two IU Southeast alums use businesssense and a love of wine to start a winery.p. 24


Turtle TrackersIU Southeast field biology students meet the greenturtles of the Red SeaEGYPTBy Sara Cunninghamt doesn’t seem to be all thatdifficult to collect data on wheregreen sea turtles nest. Thecreatures can grow up to be fivefeet long, weighing 200 to 300pounds, so it’s not likely anyone isgoing to miss it when they comeout of the water en masse to laytheir clutches of eggs on thebeach.That information has helped scientistsand conservationists mark offprotected areas for this threatened andendangered species.But the turtles spend the majority oftheir lives in the sea, not on the beach.Where they go and what happens tothem after they lay their eggs is just asimportant to the survival of the species,but unfortunately, much less of thatkind of information is known.Two IU Southeast professors and theirstudents traveled to the Red Sea coastof Egypt last summer to change that.Biology professors Omar Attum, DavidTaylor, and 12 of their field biologystudents worked with the rangers atthe Wadi Gemal National Park to attachsatellite transmitters to green seaturtles that spend time in the shallowwaters around the island of Zabaragad,also known as St. John’s Island, beforethey lay their eggs on the island’sbeach.“These turtles have complex lifecyclesand can have a large migratoryterritory,” Attum said. “We need tolearn more so that we can identify otherareas for protection but also to see howrelevant islands like this one (St. John’s)are.”The area is popular for tourists andmany divers come just to see theturtles, according to Attum.Taylor pointed out that the economicimportance of the tourist industry forthe area adds to the relevance of findingmore ways to protect the turtles.The original plan was for the studentsto help do the actual work of attachingthe four transmitters, but when apermit problem arose, park ranger andecologist Tamer Mahmoud made surethe transmitters were attached afterthe IU Southeast group left, Attum said.Students were able to dive andsnorkel in the bay where the green seaturtles swim among the sea grasses.IU Southeast Lab Services CoordinatorJon Norman went on the trip as thegroup’s scuba expert, Taylor said.IU Southeast biology senior HannahDay said she had an understanding ofwhat the sea turtles would look likefrom studying them but that she wasn’tquite prepared for what it would feellike to be close to them.“I just couldn’t believe how incrediblymassive they were,” Day said. “It wasamazing to be swimming near them.”Attum said he also was moved by theexperience of being close to the turtles.Map adapted from Google Earth.Sea turtle photos provided by IU Southeast biology professorDavid Taylor.12 www.ius.eduIU IU Southeast Winter Fall 2010 2011 13 15

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines