In Biology 361, student not only learn all about sea turtles, they get up-close and in person with the turtles. Sea turtles resonate with people, she explains, “especially if you get a chance to look them in the eye and have them look back at you.”
The class is offered every other year, and it wrapped up a few weeks ago. As part of the class, she and her students made two service trips to the sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center on Topsail Island in the spring. Earlier this month, they returned from the final component of the class: a service-learning trip to Costa Rica, during nesting season there. They studied at Tortugeuro, which means “land of the turtle.”
Campus Weekly asked her what was different this summer on their service-learning trip:
- The class saw a rare, highly endangered hawksbill turtle lay eggs. Along the North Carolina coast, you’ll mostly see loggerheads, Kemp’s Ridley and green turtles.
- They saw a partially eaten turtle that had been killed by a jaguar. Jaguar tracks were all around the dead turtle.
- Two turtles were poached for meat (by humans) in front of the research station. The turtles still had eggs. The eggs had not been laid yet.
- They rescued one turtle from poachers in front of research station, she says, and helped it back to sea.
- The students saw seven species of snakes.
- The class got to visit and take a night hike at the nearby Canadian research station with station director and noted herpetologist Dr. Todd Lewis.
- And they ended the summer session with a whitewater rafting trip.