Caretta Research Project: Georgia's Greatest Eco-Vacation

 A stunning sunrise on Wassaw Island after a night of searching for nesting loggerhead sea turtles. By Ms. Mallory Adventures

A stunning sunrise on Wassaw Island after a night of searching for nesting loggerhead sea turtles. By Ms. Mallory Adventures

Sunrises. Sea Turtles. . .Sand fleas?

 

Okay, so the last of the line up may not sound too appealing on a vacation getaway, but they are still one of the many things that will make your eco-vacation with Caretta Research Project (one of Georgia's oldest sea turtle conservation organization) so memorable. 

 

YOUTUBE GIVEAWAY FOR WATCHING THE VIDEO ON THE CHANNEL AND ANSWERING A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION AT THE END!

This is a raw adventure that has its challenges, but the reward is tenfold. Trust me when I say the stories will be epic! By far, this was the best Eco-Vacation I have ever experienced.

 

7 Days of Nerding Out with a Sea Turtle Scientist

During the last week in June, I was lucky enough to go on a Social Media takeover assignment for the Caretta Research Project (CRP) where I joined a group of eco volunteers on the Warsaw National Wildlife Refuge to work alongside CRP's Research Director, Joe Pfaller Ph. D.

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Our group's mission was to scope the beaches of Wassaw Island from 9pm-5am for nesting loggerhead females and gather data for the project's ongoing research on the North Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle

Let me repeat that. . . conducting REAL, IN THE FIELD data collecting alongside scientists. Talk about a dream come true for any wildlife lover and aspiring conservationist! We measured, tracked, tagged, evaluated, collected egg samples, and relocated problematic nest sites for over 20 nesting females during my time on the island.  . .How many other eco-vacations allow you to do that?

None that I have been to.  

Sure. You may get to monitor or watch someone else do the data collecting while on other eco volunteer programs, but when volunteering with the Caretta Research Project's Eco Volunteer program, Everyday Joe's in the community (like you and me) can get their hands dirty and do TRULY meaningful field work that helps the plight of a threatened species. 

Hands-On Research, Conservation and

Environmental Education

What do you get to do:

  • Witness A Cryptic Marine Reptile Emerge From the Black Sea Under Moonlight (**sigh**) 
  • Record Data
  • Pit Tagging
  • GPS Work
  • Tag Nesting Sites
  • Relocate Nesting Sites In Danger Of High Tide Flooding
  • Obtain Samples for DNA Testing (blog coming soon on this. SUPER AWESOME STUFF)
  • Learn About Shell Biota and Ways To Uncover A Sea Turtle's Journey (Another Blog TBA)
  • Network With Other Aspiring Conservationists
  • Discover Island Biodiversity (local wildlife)
  • Ask Sea Turtle Researchers All The Questions You Have Always Had About Sea Turtle Conservation. . . .  (like I did)
  • Watch Some Of The Most Stunning Sunrises On A Remote Island. . .

 

Conservation at its finest.

Did I mention this organization has been around since 1973?  Yep, longterm research is key to conservation success. Since the beginning, the CRP staff and volunteers have:

1) Tagged over 1,685 individual turtles 

2) Monitored 4,290 nests containing more than 489,860 eggs

3) Successfully released over 301,900 hatchlings into the ocean

4) Trained 23 interns who have gone to other environmental / educational programs; and

5) Involved and educated over 3,000 volunteers from all over the world in sea turtle conservation efforts!

 

Testimonial:

 Bright, white light disorients nesting sea turtles, so infrared technology is used while filming and collecting data. 

Bright, white light disorients nesting sea turtles, so infrared technology is used while filming and collecting data. 

Not only was this a life changing experience for me (it was my first encounter with a wild sea turtle), but working alongside the Caretta Research Project's Research Director, Joe Pfaller Ph. D., made me feel like I was a significant part of the process.  He guided the group through proper technique in data collecting, record keeping, and field etiquette around the animals so that everyone felt included in the process and no animals were caused any discomfort.

For never having any formal scientific training in the past, I felt this opportunity was a great crash course in field work and the perfect opportunity to encourage me to learn more about the research side of conservation (I have always been an educator).  This is a great ignitor for anyone looking for a reason to gain motivation in their conservation journey and become an even better wildlife/ocean ambassador.   

 

The Breakdown

 Gopro image of me after a night of filming nesting loggerhead sea turtles. It was my first time ever seeing a wild sea turtle and filming with night vision.  

Gopro image of me after a night of filming nesting loggerhead sea turtles. It was my first time ever seeing a wild sea turtle and filming with night vision.  

Organization: Caretta Research Project 

Animal in Focus: Threatened North Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Project in Focus: 7 day Eco-Vacation on the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge

  • Egg Laying Season (mid May through early August) -Most of each night is spent patrolling six mile of beach looking for female turtles that have emerged from the ocean to lay their eggs.
  • Hatching season (late July through September)- Each of the nests is monitored for signs of hatching. When hatchlings begin emerging from the sand and making their way to the water the work begins. Members of the team escort the hatchlings and begin collecting data. Three days after the hatchlings emerge, the nest must be carefully excavated and the unhatched eggs counted. Hatching success is determined for each nest. 

Cost: $825 by check; $849 by CC.

**Fee covers all food, housing, leadership, transportation while on the island and boat transportation to and from the island. Point of departure and return is the Landings Harbor Marina. Scholarships are available for eligible candidates.

 

 

 

 

Do you think involving the 'non-scientific' community into research is beneficial to the conservation of a species?

Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below. 

 

 

Until next time, this is Ms. Mallory inviting you to. . .

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**Ms. Mallory Adventures provides free social media collaborations and education consulting for research and conservation non-profits. Her skills include using contemporary communication platforms to bring nature and science to the public with the goal of quelling fears and misunderstandings regarding wildlife, providing scientific research in an accessible way, and empowering youth to take action in their communities' conservation efforts.   

 

 

PLEASE FOLLOW THE ADVENTURE ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA SITE.