Friday, February 22, 2008

Leaving on a Midnight Train to Georgia

It's that time of year again. Time for the UNH Large Pelagics Research Lab (LPRL) turtle team to head south for warmer weather and some good old fashioned turtle hunting. Since the turtles won't come to us in March (apparently they don't like snow), we go to them. This will be our second year catching and satellite tagging leatherback turtles off the Georgia and Florida coasts. Last year we were quite amazed by the number of turtles we saw and we have our fingers crossed that this year will be similar.

Our first task is to fit a UHaul amount of equipment into, well, not a UHaul. After an overcrowded minivan journey to Georgia last year (riding in fearful discomfort and sometimes just fear), we learned our lesson and have upgraded to a Suburban. Hopefully this will make things a little more comfortable. Packing the gear is akin to a chinese puzzle, where every little piece has its place...

We'll hit the road next week and anticipate arriving in the Peach State on February 29. We're looking forward to regrouping with our fantastic collaborators from Georgia Department of Natural Resources, New England Aquarium, Wildlife Trust and University of North Carolina Wilmington. We'll also have some guest appearances from the BBC and Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (a key partner in our New England leatherback research). BBC Radio 4 will be featuring our leatherback work as part of their "World on the Move: Great Animal Migrations" series. Be sure to check out their website at to read about all of the amazing animal migrations they're reporting on from around the globe.

A beautiful Georgia sunrise March 2007

We'll be posting blogs throughout our trip so check back regularly for pictures and updates from our field team.

- Kara Dodge, PhD student, Large Pelagics Research Lab
- Photo credits: NOAA/NMFS/NEFSC archives, Kara Dodge and Andy Myers