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The Leatherback Project at LMC: New Beginnings

The leatherbacks are here! We are thrilled to announce the reinstatement of The Leatherback Project at LMC!  The project kicked off this month and includes new faces and collaborations.

Under the direction of Dr. Manire, Stephanie Kedzuf, LMC’s Research Innovations Manager, is managing the project and technicians. We have hired two part-time seasonal technicians for the project, Jake Lasala and Kayla Goforth. Jake is a PhD candidate at Florida Atlantic University with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken. Jake has worked with sea turtles in Georgia and Florida since 2008 and collaborated with LMC’s Research team in the past. Kayla is a recent graduate of the University of Florida and has worked with sea turtles in Sarasota and Port St. Joe, Florida. This will be Kayla’s first season with LMC.

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The main focus of The Leatherback Project will be to study the chemical components of the blood, in collaboration with North Carolina State University. The chemical components of the blood can provide a better physiological picture of the animal. In doing so, we will be able to assess the overall health and nutrition of that animal at the time the sample is taken. Leatherbacks fast during nesting season and sometimes go 2-3 months without eating in that time. By sampling many turtles at different times in the nesting season, we can gain a better understanding of how their health is affected by this fasting behavior as the nesting season progresses.

Researchers will also be tagging any new leatherbacks that are encountered during the 2016 season, as well as linking any previously encountered turtles to their history here at LMC. The Leatherback Project will continue until around mid-June, which is when leatherback nesting tapers off.

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Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more 2016 sea turtle nesting season updates!

And don’t forget to familiarize yourself with nesting season do’s and dont’s. Thanks for being a supporter of LMC!