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Finally Fieldwork

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Tags: conservation, fieldwork, blandings turtle, endangered, Biology

Created: 6/11/2013      Updated: 8/10/2016

A sure sign of the change of seasons is when we in the Biology Department finally start to get out to do field work. Our Blanding’s Turtle work was severely affected last year by the drought so we had some catching up to do. First order of business, release all last years hatchlings that we had held onto due to a lack of water. We begin by blanking out their individual ID numbers to make them less conspicuous.

Blanking out Blanding's ID number with marker


Then we select suitable sites with relatively shallow water, plenty of vegetation for cover and a healthy population of aquatic invertebrates for food. It is always a delightful moment when we watch these little turtles get their first taste of freedom.

Releasing Blanding's hatchlings into the water


After all the hatchlings were released we started doing some radio tracking. This can be a slow process as we work to follow the beeps emitted by the transmitter and home in on its location.

Biologists tracking Blanding's in the water


This time we had so much water to work in we had a problem reaching the bottom to grab the turtle when we located it. We go from one extreme to the other it seems! Unfortunately our first trail was a bust as we came up with a detached transmitter but we would far rather have this happen than find one that had obviously been removed by a predator.

A detached radio transmitter


We can recycle and refit these transmitters so we carefully stowed it and then set of tracking another turtle.

Biologists tracking turtles through the marsh


This one led us on a merry dance through all kinds of habitat...

Biologists wading through the water


...before we eventually tracked it down. It is always a great way to end a day of fieldwork by finding a large, strong, healthy turtle.

An adult Blanding's turtle


He will have his transmitter replaced and then be rereleased at the exact location he was found. Hopefully he will soon find some female turtles and start work on this year's batch of babies!

Celeste Troon, Director of Living Collections

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