Specialty: Whatever your specialty (mine’s quantitative ecology), an effective person in sea turtle biology or conservation becomes familiar with or develops cross-disciplinary collaborations. Effective partnerships and team strategy are vital.
Best part about my job: Balancing field and lab opportunities while learning from the international experiences of other marine scientists. Seeing traffic jams of green turtles on Raine Island, leatherbacks at Ya:lima:po, and olive ridleys at Nancite. Turtle rodeo in Queensland.
Biggest challenges I face: Waiting on the permit process. Witnessing the armoring of Florida coastline as it depletes essential nesting habitat. Working at a non-profit organization where outsiders mistakenly expect that all programs are equally well-funded. Realizing that long term monitoring across decades is essential, when government and foundations are geared to annual funding cycles.
The most unusual or exciting thing that’s happened to me while working in the field: Tripping over an alligator on the beach at Little Cumberland Island; removing bull sharks or hammerhead sharks from a turtle net in Charlotte Harbor; witnessing voodoo ceremonies while surveying for feral pigs in Haiti.
Why I like being a member of the MTSG: “Turtle people” are an inspiration, to share what is known about turtles with the public.
Turtle researcher / conservationist I most admire: Colin Limpus for beginning an audacious experiment in Queensland by notching hundreds of thousands of hatchlings to learn how long it takes sea turtles to mature and whether they would return to natal beaches-he’s starting to get answers after more than 30 years! Maria Elena Ibarra Martin and Rogelio Diaz-Fernandez for confronting challenges in teaching and conducting science that few outside of Cuba can imagine. Whit Gibbons and Justin Congdon for reminding us that turtles have common aspects to their life history. Larry Crowder and Karen Bjorndal for thinking at large spatial and deep temporal scales.
When I’m not working on turtles I like to: Sea kayak with Nancy FitzSimmons; snorkel for freshwater turtles in the Kimberley of Western Australia.
Ten years from now, I hope I will be doing: Exactly what other MTSG members have said- more of the same. We share a common passion for working on these noble creatures.
Relevant links to find out more about me and my work: