Endangered Caribbean sea turtles : an educator's handbook


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Endangered Caribbean sea turtles : an educator's handbook
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Harold, Sera
Eckert, Karen L.
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network ( WIDECAST )
Place of Publication:
Beaufort, NC
Publication Date:


General Note:
WIDECAST technical report 3
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PDF updated on 7/9/2012. Prior version suppressed for user ease; had minor updates and is available by request as needed.

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Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
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Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
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Full Text

Sera Harold
Karen Eckert

WIDECAST Technical Report No. 3

I Harold a[nd Eckert (2005 A Edu i,,' Ha n hIDECAST Techni Rpr 3

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love
only what we understand, we will understand only what
we are taught."

-Baba Dieum

Front Cover: Photo by Scott Eckert. Note: This picture is of a researcher releasing hatchlings on a nest-
ing beach, after the hatchlings had become entangled in beach vines. If you see hatchlings, please allow
them to reach the water on their own, handling them (with hands free of insect repellent or sunscreen)
only when such handling is necessary for their survival.

For bibliographic purposes, this document may be cited as:

Harold, Sera and Karen L. Eckert. 2005. Endangered Caribbean Sea Turtles: An Educator's Handbook.
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Technical Report 3. Beaufort, North
Carolina. 176pp.

ISSN: 1930-3025

Copies of this publication may be obtained from:

Nicholas School Marine Laboratory
Duke University
135 Duke Marine Lab Road
Beaufort, North Carolina 28516 USA
Phone: (252) 727-1600
Fax: (252) 504-7648
Email: keckert@widecast.org

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Endangered Caribbean



An Educator's

Sera Harold
Karen Eckert



Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network

A project sponsored by:

Trinidad and Tobago


Department for Environmen
Food and Rural Affairs

Con,.rv.g aa ,2 .

Table of Contents



Introductory Activity 1A: What Do You Think? 9
Find out through surveys what you, your classmates
and family think about sea turtles.

A unit about the amazing life histories and biology of Caribbean
sea turtles. This unit will concentrate on natural science, geography,
and writing. Students will learn the unique biology of these animals
through activities and writing assignments.

Introductory Activity 2A: Life Underwater 17
Learn about the adaptations and behaviors that allow
sea turtles to live underwater.
Activity 2B: Adaptation Laboratory 20
Learn about the many adaptations of sea turtles.
Activity 2C: Turtle Nest Box 25
Learn about the nesting behavior and strategy.
Activity 2D: Navigation Obstacle Course 30
Explore the fascinating navigational abilities of sea
Activity 2E: Sea Turtle Diving Profiles 33
Learn how deep sea turtles can dive, and why and
how they do it!
Wrap-up Activity 2F: Turtle Quiz Show 37
Demonstrate how much you've learned!
References 41

A unit concentrating on the geographic and cultural diversity of the
Caribbean region and the way West Indian societies use and regard
sea turtles. This unit will stress social studies, taxonomy and geography.

Introductory Activity 3A: Natural History of Sea Turtles 43
Learn about reptiles and the evolution of Caribbean sea
Activity 3B: Caribbean Sea Turtle History 50
Read and discuss the history of sea turtles in the
Activity 3C: Turtle Key 54
Use taxonomic keys to identify the region's sea turtles.
Activity 3D: Trade in Sea Turtles 63
Discuss international conventions on trade and analyze
export and import data from the Caribbean.

Activity 3E: Sea Turtle Tracking 68
Use satellite tracking to calculate a turtle's swim
speed, distance traveled and headings.
Wrap-up Activity 3F: A Leatherback's International Journey 74
Use satellite tracking to identify the various threats
encountered during migration.
References 80

Students will learn the importance of coral reefs, seagrass beds,
and beaches to the survival of Caribbean sea turtles. Conservation
is the focus of this unit, and the links between the animals in the
ocean and our actions on land.

Introductory Activity 4A: Why is Biodiversity Important? 82
Play a game to simulate the importance of biodiversity
in the oceans.
Activity 4B: Fishy Problems 86
Learn how fisheries are affecting the oceans.
Activity 4C: Coral Reef Community 92
What is coral and why is it so important?
Activity 4D: Seagrass Beds 97
Explore ways in which animals depend on seagrass.
Activity 4E: An Oil Spill Story 100
Follow instructions for rescuing turtles caught
in oil spills, see if you can save yours!
Wrap-up Activity 4F: Sea Turtle Survivor 103
Play this board game to see how difficult it is for a sea
turtle to survive.
References 114

Unit 5: HATCHLINGS 115
Learn about the special adaptations and trials of baby sea turtles, from
incubation within the egg to the mysterious "lost years" as young

Introductory Activity 5A: Turtle Hurdles 116
Simulate the journey for a hatchling from the nest to
Activity 5B: Hatchling Development 118
How fast do turtles grow, and what do they need to survive?
Activity 5C: Finding the Sea 122
Learn about the "Lost Years" when sea turtles are young.
Activity 5D: Sea Turtle Growth 126
Learn how quickly turtles grow and how scientists figure it out.
Activity 5E: Where's My Beach? 131
Explore genetics in sea turtle populations.
Wrap-up Activity 5F: Hatchling Conservation 136
How is conservation different for hatchlings and adults?
References 138

Harold ~ u an Ecet(05*n dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

The delicate and critical habitat of shorelines is where humans
interact with ocean life. Managers balance use of the shoreline
with conservation.

Introductory Activity 6A: Land Use Planning 140
Discover the importance of land use planning.
Activity 6B: Beach Management 144
Pretend to be a hotel owner and plan ecologically
positive changes to your hotel.
Activity 6C: I Beg to Differ 150
Using rules of debate, take different sides of an issue
regarding recreational use of the ocean and beaches.
Activity 6D: The Sandy Shore 153
Explore the content of sand and why shorelines move!
Activity 6E: Shoreline Creatures 155
Despite the harsh environment of the shoreline, many
plants and animals make their homes there.
Wrap-up Activity 6F: Law of the Beach 159
Make policy to protect turtle nesting habitat.
References 163

Educators can quickly search for lessons that teach
mathematics or science.

Educators can search for lessons listed by skill area,
for example: scientific method, life cycle, and the water




I Hiaro [ld ii and Ecer I An Educator's Handbook. IDT S Technical Ro 3

SIntroduction to the



This Handbook is intended to provide a science-based outreach tool that is both Caribbean-focused and
aimed at a broad public audience. The Handbook features cross-cutting conservation issues associated with
six species of endangered sea turtles, emphasises classroom activities and curriculum units, and provides
a unique education tool for conservation and youth groups, park and protected area officers, dive and tour
operators, museums and cultural societies, and public awareness programs associated with Fisheries and
Forestry departments throughout the region.

The Handbook is designed to assist educators by using standard layouts developed for classroom use, including
lesson plans, analytical exercises, fact sheets and work sheets, contests and team-building assignments, field
and conservation exercises, and suggestions for "enrichment" activities that encourage students to think
more deeply about the issues. A Glossary is provided, as well as useful Internet sites and basic literature

We hope that through direct participation, students will become familiar with sea turtle biology, including
ecological roles, patterns of behavior, and survival needs (food, shelter, nesting beaches); management tools
and conservation strategies, including laws and treaties, best practices and policy options (e.g. protected
areas, time and area closures, alternative fishing gear technologies); and how to become involved in local
management issues, including beachfront lighting, beach clean-ups, coastal care (e.g. bonfires, beach-driving),
reporting violations, and basic 'etiquette' (e.g. what to do when you encounter a sea turtle).

The Handbook has been peer-reviewed and field tested by expert colleagues from around the Caribbean (see

Why is it important to know something about sea turtles?

The Caribbean Sea once supported populations of sea turtles that numbered in the uncounted millions.
Seventeenth and eighteenth century mariner records document flotillas of turtles so dense and so vast that net
fishing was impossible, even the movement of ships was curtailed. Their teeming numbers were a dominant
force in the ecology of coral reefs and seagrass meadows, and in the economies of man. Today sea turtle
populations are severely reduced from historical levels, and some of the largest breeding populations the
world has ever known (for example, the green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, of the Cayman Islands) have all
but vanished.

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

In addition to a minimally regulated harvest that has spanned centuries, sea turtles are accidentally
captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in death to uncounted thousands of turtles
each year.

Sea turtles are still killed for meat and eggs (subsistence and commercial markets), shell (used in
crafting jewelry and ornaments, generally for a tourist clientele), oil (typically used medicinally),
and skin (fashioned into leather products). Much of the harvest is illegal.

Coral reef and seagrass degradation, pollution and marine debris, high density coastal development,
and an increase in ocean-based tourism have damaged or eliminated many Caribbean nesting
beaches and feeding areas. International trade in sea turtle products has also contributed to the
demise of some species.

Today all Caribbean sea turtle species are classified as "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered"
(for details, visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species at http://www.redlist.org).

Mobilising citizens and governments in dozens of nations and territories is required to effectively
manage and conserve Caribbean sea turtles. Because sea turtles are among the most migratory of
all Caribbean fauna, what appears as a decline in a local population may be a direct consequence
of the activities of peoples many hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. While local
conservation is crucial, coordinated action among range states is also important.

For sea turtles to survive, everyone must work together!

How will using this Handbook help?

In order for people to take action, accurate information is needed at a regional scale. An informed
citizenry is essential to maintaining a healthy marine environment, which translates into the
conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of subsistence and commercial resources, and
the protection of critical coastal habitats upon which we all, directly or indirectly, depend.

A major concern is the lack of Caribbean-based information tools for use in the classroom, and
suitable for teaching basic curriculum concepts (science/biology, comprehension, reading/writing,
critical thinking).

This Handbook provides tools designed to enhance the understanding and use of science in
decision-making. It builds the capacity of Caribbean educators to explore and use a marine
conservation curriculum based on a familiar flagship species, the sea turtle, and provides learning
tools that promote conservation action on behalf of sea turtles and their imperiled coastal habitats,
including seagrass, coral reefs, and sandy beaches.

The challenge is to keep the issue of sea turtle survival (which, by definition, requires sustained conservation
action over long periods of time) alive and in the public eye by integrating basic concepts into schools and
other learning environments, throughout the region. On behalf of the more than 40 nations and territories
that participate in the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), we hope that you
enjoy this new Handbook and that you let us know how we can improve it! For more information relevant
to educators, please visit www.widecast.org/educators.

Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Harod an i ck rt (2005). An Ico Hadbo ---- Tecnical Repor --

How To Use This Book

* The activities are written with 12-15 year olds in mind; however, some activities will be too difficult for this
age range and some will be too easy. Each activity is easily adaptable for most age ranges.

* Most units can be used independently, meaning that the teacher does not need to complete the whole book.
We wanted to supply the teacher with possibilities, and didn't intend for an educator to be intimidated by the
size of the Handbook.

* Each activity is designed to stand alone.

* Almost everything you need is included in the Handbook! No fancy equipment is needed for any of the
activities. Most can be completed using photocopies and a pencil.

* There is no formal evaluation included in the form of tests, except in a few instances. The use of Sea Turtle
Portfolios is a good evaluation tool in most cases. Have students keep their work in a folder. Let this col-
lection of work be your evaluation tool.

* Vocabulary words appear in boldface throughout the text of the Handbook. A Glossary of terms is included
at the end of the book.

* The Subject Index and Skills Index at the back of the book should make it easier to find exactly the right
activity for your learning objective!

* The Handbook is designed to be as interactive and dynamic for students as possible. Each activity suggests
that the background information be a reading assignment. This is only a suggestion. The teacher should
deliver this information in any way that proves most useful.

* The Handbook is designed primarily for formal school settings, and for children, but we have used many of
these activities with adults in different circumstances and we encourage non-traditional educators to use this
book, as well.

(Most ofal/, we hope that you and your students enjoy the Handbook!)

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Harol--d aind Ecker t (20. An Ico Hanboo -WT lRep t 3,1

What Do You Think?

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V Summary
Students take a survey using a
prepared questionnaire, tabulate
their results as a class, modify the
questionnaire and survey a family

V Objectives

Students will:
State their own opinions
about sea turtle conservation,
and the opinions of their
peers, family and elders.
Discuss the importance of
changing attitudes in policy-

V Why Is It Important?

Students and teachers alike often
encounter wildlife-related interests
and issues in their community.
Planners frequently use information
about public opinion in making
policy; sometimes this information
is collected through surveys.
Conducting a survey helps students
discover what is happening in their
community, how people think and
feel about what is happening, and
how survey results can be used to
help make decisions. Students will
explore how the opinions of family
and community members might differ
among generations and how those
differences might affect wildlife-
related policy in a country.

V Background

One way to obtain information
about people's thoughts and actions
regarding an issue is through a

In this activity, students will
conduct surveys using an
interview/questionnaire method.
Interviewing is the process of
surveying viewpoints by verbal
questions. Surveys can be used
to solicit facts from people and
to determine people's opinions
about a topic. Opinions include
personal beliefs, attitudes, and
values. Facts include background
information such as age,
education, experience, and place
of employment.

Surveys often provide information
helpful to solving a problem
or answering a question. The
purpose of the survey is often
expressed as a research question.
Research questions should
be clearly written, should be
reasonable in scope, and should
provide insight into the purpose of
the survey. Examples of research
questions include:

"How many people in this area fish
or have fished for sea turtles?"

"Are there more or fewer turtles
here now than there used to be?"

After the survey has been
completed, the collected data
need to be interpreted. One of
the simplest procedures is to
tally responses and calculate
frequencies. For example, if 20
people were asked if they fished
for turtle, 12 people might say yes
and 8 say no. In this example the
results could be reported as: 60%
of the respondents have fished for
turtles and 40% have not.

12 said "yes"
20 people surveyed

= 0.6 = 60%


I Hoa E (2005) An E H b pW.DEAS Technical Repo, 3

The sum of all proportions should equal 100%.
Further analysis would involve the use of
simple statistics including finding the mean,
standard deviation, and a measurement of
bias or error.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Have each student complete the included
questionnaire entitled, "Sea Turtle
Survey." Don't worry about the blank
questions yet.

2. Have the students tally the results of the
questionnaire in class and calculate
percentages for each response. Keep
the results to compare with family
responses obtained later.

V The Activity

1. Divide the class into small groups. Using
the "Survey Development" page and
the included questionnaire, have the
students design extra questions for use in
surveying a family member. Remember
that the research question is: "How do
different generations feel about sea
turtles?" The students should agree as a
class which of the new questions will be
written into the two blanks in each section
and used as part of the questionnaire.

2. Have each student administer the survey
to a parent and a grandparent or other
family members representing these
different generations.

3. Upon completion of the survey, have the
students analyze the data in the same way
as the initial classroom survey. They may
calculate a mean, median and standard
deviation for each response.

4. Ask each group to prepare a report of their
results. Advise them to find a snappy title
that incorporates or relates to the research
question, and to include any background

information explaining the issue, a description
of how the survey was conducted, results
(tables, charts, and graphs make results more
visually appealing), and conclusions. They
can also explain any difficulties they had with
the survey process.

5. Have the groups present and discuss the
survey and its results. Were the results what
they expected? What are the differences
between generations? Where is the greatest
difference, the least? Based on your
interviews, does public opinion change with
time? If so, why do you think this is so? How
do you suppose that these changes in public
opinion influence policy making?

V Enrichment

1. Choose a question from the questionnaire
about which the different generations had
differing opinions. Divide the class into three
groups. Draw a line across the classroom
from one wall to another. Choose one wall
as "strongly disagree" and the other wall as
"strongly agree". Read the question aloud and
have the students arrange themselves along
the line representing one of three generations
(students, parents, grandparents). Have the
three groups present their generation's view
to the class and how the view relates to "their"
generation's experience.

Harold ~ u an Ecet(05*n dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

Survey Development:

Using a Questionnaire

Who will you talk to?

As a safety precaution, students
should poll only people they
know. Students will sample family
members for this activity. For a
more sophisticated study, students
may consider collecting a random
sample, or sampling only fishermen
or market vendors.

How will you conduct
the survey?

Mailed questionnaires, face-to-
face interviews, and phone calls are
a few of the options a student might
use to collect information. Discuss
the pros and cons of each. For
example, phone interviews provide
immediate results; however, people
may be more likely to participate
if the interview were conducted
face-to-face. Cost (stamps, travel),
time (sitting through an interview),
and willingness to participate are all
things to consider.

What questions will you

Using the research question: "How
do different generations feel about
sea turtles?" students should create
a list of questions they would like
to ask, choose from these questions
as a class, and add them in the
blank spaces of the questionnaire
before surveying family members.

Have students consider whether they
will be collecting facts, opinions,
or both. Write several examples
of each on the board and discuss
the difference between facts and
opinions (see examples below).

+ How many turtles do you see
each week?
+ Do you still hunt turtles?
+ What is the price of a kilo of
turtle meat?

+ Is it important to conserve
* Should people be able to fish
for turtles?
+ Do people take too many?

Encourage groups to test the
questions for clarity and to make
sure they are not biased. The survey
can be tested by asking a friend to
listen to each question. Does the
question provide information that
helps answer the overall research
question? Does the question make
sense? Did the question make the
person feel he or she should answer
a certain way (in other words, was the
tone of the question condescending
or "leading"?)

How will the results of
the survey be analyzed?

Close-form items (e.g., yes/no,
agree/disagree) are easier to analyze
than open-form items. Open-
form items are those to which the

participant responds in his or her
own words. Examples include
the following: How do you feel
about marine pollution? Is sea
turtle conservation important?

Analyzing open-form responses
involves carefully studying
(listening to, reading, iL 1in2i
all responses and looking for
common messages that can
be used to summarize the

For close-form questions,
students can report the
frequency of responses by
tallying the number of people
who responded to each answer
category. Students can also
calculate the group average or
what percent of the sample
answered in a certain way. For
ease of analysis, this activity
features the use of close-form
questions only.

I aodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Sea Turtle Survey:
How Do Different Generations Feel About Sea Turtles?

Interviewer Information:




Introduce yourself to the interviewee. Explain that you are carrying out a survey as part of a class
assignment to learn more about how opinions on wildlife related issues might differ among generations
in your community. The questions focus on how important sea turtles are, and were, to the culture
and everyday lives of the people of your country. Explain that as a student it is important to find out
about this historical relationship because many traditions are lost as a country becomes more developed.
Explain that the results of the surveys will be shared with your class and that the names of people
interviewed will not be used.

Interviewee Information



Area of Residence:



0-20 21-40 41-60



Section 1- Turtles, General Information (circle one)

1. How many different species of sea turtle can you name?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

2. How many different species of sea turtle have you seen?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

3. How many species of sea turtle are classified internationally as "Endangered" in the Caribbean?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

4. Have you ever seen a turtle laying her eggs?
0 1
No Yes

5. Can you name the most important sea turtle nesting beach in your country?
0 1
No Yes

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

0 1 2 3 4

0 1 2 3 4

If the answer is not a numerical response (0-6), then each number should be associated with an answer.
For example, 0=no, 1=yes, 2=unsure.

Section 2- Turtles, Past Uses

8. When I was a young person, sea turtles were most valued for: ote:
< "less than"
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
no value meat eggs shell oil eco-tourism don't know > "mnre thinn"

9. When I was a young person I ate turtle meat or eggs:
0 1 2 3
never < once monthly once monthly >once monthly

4 5 6
daily special occasions don't know

10. When I was a young person sea turtles were most often caught by:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
never caught nets at sea hand at sea spear at sea accidently at sea during nesting don't know

11. When I was a young person I believe that most people thought sea turtles were:
0 1 2 3 4
extinct rare common abundant don't know


0 1 2 3 4

5 6

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

*Notice that questions 12 and 13 should "match" questions 18 and 19.

I Haro-ld' i.u and *ert (20 5)TAn. Educator's Hs n bo .IlB] T echnical Report--

Section 3- Turtles, Present Uses

14. Today, sea turtles are most valued for:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
no value meat eggs shell oil eco-tourism don't know

15. Today I eat turtle meat or eggs:
0 1 2 3
never < once monthly once monthly > once monthly

16. Today sea turtles are most often caught by:
0 1 2 3
never nets at sea hand at sea spear at sea

17. Today I believe that most people think sea turtles are:
0 1 2 3 4
extinct rare common abundant don't know


0 1 2 3 4

0 1 2 3

Section 4- Turtles, Future Options

20. Sea turtles will continue to exist here no matter what we do.
1 2 3 4 5
strongly disagree no opinion agree strongly
disagree agree

4 5 6
daily special occasions don't know

4 5 6
accidently at sea during nesting don't know

Harold ~ u an Ecet(05*n dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

21. People should be able to fish for turtles and collect eggs without restriction.
1 2 3 4 5

strongly disagree no opinion agree


22. I would be sad if turtles were extinct and there were none for my children to see.

1 2 3 4
strongly disagree no opinion agree


23. Generating community income from turtles through tourism (like a "turtle watch") is a good idea.
1 2 3 4 5
strongly disagree no opinion agree strongly
disagree agree


1 2 3 4 5
strongly disagree no opinion agree strongly
disagree agree


1 2 3 4 5
strongly disagree no opinion agree strongly
disagree agree

Be sure to thank the interviewee for participating!

Aw aA a


HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Life Underwater

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V Summary
Students will learn how sea turtles
are adapted to live in the ocean, and
how those adaptations affect the
behavior of the sea turtle.

V Objectives

Students will:
Identify three adaptations
sea turtles have for living
Identify three behaviors sea
turtles need for their survival.

V Why Is It Important?

We cannot see through a turtle's
eyes or go with them on their dives
underwater. Sea turtles live under
the ocean's surface, a place we can
only visit briefly. Because of this, it
is difficult to understand how turtles
eat, see, breathe, and hear. Through
detailed study of the anatomy of
turtles, and study of similar animals,
scientists have been able to get
an idea of what a turtle's life is like
underwater. This information is
important because if we do not know
the basic biology of these animals,
it can be challenging to protect or
manage them effectively.

V Background

Water is eight hundred times denser
than air, water is a more effective heat
conductor than air, and sea water
contains dissolved salts. Animals
living in this environment are exposed
to different pressure, temperature,
and salinity than animals on land;
so most marine animals have unique

adaptations (fins, gills, etc). that
could never exist (and would not
be very useful!) in a terrestrial

Like the dolphin and the seal,
sea turtles represent animals
that originally were adapted for
a terrestrial existence and later,
over the course of millions of years,
returned to a life in the ocean. As
a result, several adaptations had
to occur in order to get sea turtles
ready for life underwater. For

Breathing: Sea turtles are not fish,
they must come to the surface to
breathe. Sea turtles have shells so
they cannot expand and contract
the rib cage to breathe like we do.
Instead they use flipper muscles
and the movement of swimming
to pump air into and out of the
lungs. Deep diving sea turtles store
relatively large amounts of oxygen
in their blood and muscle, rather
than in their lungs.

Swimming: Sea turtles' front
flippers have become modified into
paddle-like limbs to move the turtle
quickly through the water. But
these same flippers make the turtle
very clumsy on land! Young sea
turtles also use their back flippers
for propulsion, while adults use
them only for steering (and nest

Drinking: All animals need
freshwater to survive. A sea turtle's
body is less salty than the ocean,
and must stay that way. The shell
and scaly skin help to keep salt
water out, but a lot of salt is taken
in during feeding. To get rid of the
extra salt, sea turtles have special
"salt glands" (similar to our tear
ducts), located near the eyes,

I Harold an Eckert. ( A c H WI] pA.T Tc hnil Report 3

which pump extra salt out of the body
in thick "tears". The tears that people
see in nesting turtles are actually salt
secretions from these glands. Sea
turtles "cry" all the time, not just during

Temperature Regulation: Sea turtles are
ectothermic ("cold-blooded", meaning
they maintain body temperature by,
for example, absorbing heat from the
environment), and so they sometimes
"bask" or float at the surface to warm

Many species will migrate to warmer
waters when temperatures in winter
drop below 15 degrees Centigrade.
Leatherbacks are a special case. Due
to their large size and exceptional heat
capacity, they can live in very cold water,
even venturing into subarctic zones to
feed on jellyfish and other delicacies.

Reproduction: Sea turtles must come
ashore to lay their eggs. If the eggs are
laid at sea, the embryos will drown. The
female turtle crawls up onto a sandy
beach, carefully digs a hole, deposits
her eggs, and buries them in the sand
before returning to the sea. The eggs
can stay warm and the developing
embryos can get oxygen while they
incubate in the sand.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have
the students read the information or
read it aloud in class.

2. Discuss ectothermy and endo-
thermy. What is your body
temperature? If students don't
know, use a thermometer to find out.
What is the temperature outside?
Are the two different? Are humans
endothermic or ectothermic? Sea

turtles, like all reptiles, control their
body temperature through behavioral
means. Are sea turtles endothermic or

V The Activity

1. Copy and distribute the TurtleCam
Diary page. Have the students read
through the diary or read it aloud in

2. Have the students underline or circle any
thing the turtle does that they can explain
using the Background Information.
For example, if the turtle is described
surfacing and sticking its head out of the
water, the students would state that the
turtle is breathing.

3. The students should write their
explanations for the behaviors on the
lines provided. Have students report
their results to the class.

V Enrichment

1. If you have access to the internet, you
can show videos of actual turtle cams.
One place to access these videos is
listed below:

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

TurtleCam Diary

The camera is activated just as green turtle
#thr567 is leaving the beach after nesting. The
front edge of her flippers come into the frame, I
can hear them hit the sand and she moves a few
centimeters forward. After 2 minutes she pauses,
lifts her head, and I can hear what sounds like a
breath. There are big viscous tears coming out of
her eyes. She continues down the beach and into
the water. Once she is swimming, she moves fast.
I can see her flippers come into the frame every
second or so, both of them at the sides. They
seem to be almost vertical before she brings them
powerfully downwards. The ocean floor is moving
by quickly. After 3 minutes she starts towards the
surface. The camera breaks the surface of the water
and her head points upwards, she inhales. She
puts her head back underwater but the camera is
still above the waves. For 65 minutes the camera
shows open ocean, and even turns around to
show the beach the turtle just came from! Then
suddenly, she dives down to the ocean floor and
starts throwing sand and mud with her flippers.
The camera stopped filming 83 minutes after it

I Ho aon d Eckert (2005) An E o s Handbook ID1 T n Rpr3 1

Adaptation Laboratory

V Summary
Students will learn how sea turtles
adapted to live in the ocean, and how
those changes affect the behavior of
the sea turtle.

V Objectives

Students will:
List three adaptations that
sea turtles have for living
Identify sea turtle behavior and
its causes.
Identify several analogous and
homologous structures.

V Why Is It Important?

Why does a sea turtle look the way it
does? Why does it lay its eggs on land?
One way to answer these questions is to
see how turtles are different from other
animals and to see what purpose these
differences might serve. In this activity
students will ask and answer some "why"

V Background

The special characteristics that allow
plants and animals to be successful
in a particular environment are called
adaptations. The process of adaptation
generally occurs over a long time

Let's imagine a land turtle that is
competing for food with lots of other
animals on land. He finds some food in
the water and there is less competition
for this food so he may become more
successful than the other land turtles.
Eating different food, in this case, is a
useful adaptation. Now let's imagine,
many generations later a turtle is born

with webbed feet. Now this turtle can
be even more successful getting food in
the water. Enjoying plenty of food and
less competition for it, more young web-
footed turtles survive to reproductive age,
producing more young than the other
turtles. Webbed feet are a successful
adaptation for turtles who feed in the
water. If a land turtle who did not feed
in the water was born with webbed feet,
the feet would not be an advantage, and
might even be a disadvantage. Why
might webbed feet be a poor adaptation
to living completely on land?

Slight changes in body shape, retained
and specialized over time, can give
an animal advantages. In this case
our turtle species becomes adapted
to living even more completely in the
water. This process goes on and on,
and the most successful plant or animal
species becomes very well suited to its

The process of adaptation is also called
natural selection, which means that only
those changes that help an animal (or do
no harm) are likely to remain. Particular
changes that hurt an animal or place
it at a disadvantage (like the webbed
feet on the land turtle) will most likely
disappear over time because animals
with those characteristics are likely to be
less competitive and leave behind fewer

Camouflage is a good example of an
adaptation. Why is a hawksbill turtle's
shell so beautiful and why is it different
from the other sea turtles? The basic
rule of adaptation is that natural selection
acts on the endless natural variation
among individuals in such a way as to
favor reproduction in those best suited to
their environments. So the best question
is: how is the hawksbill's environment
different from other sea turtles and why
would it favor a shell like that? Hawksbill
sea turtles spend much of their time
near coral reefs. Coral reefs are more


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colorful and varied than most other ocean
environments, so for the hawksbill to blend in
and avoid detection, you could argue that it
would be advantageous to look like the coral

Homology is the idea that different body parts
are made of similar bones. For example, a
turtle's flipper is homologous to a human's
arm. They have the same bones and basic
structure, even though the arm and flipper do
very different things.

Analogy is the idea that two body parts have
the same function, no matter what the structure.
For example a bird wing is analogous to a
butterfly wing. Both serve as wings for flying,
but while a bird wing has bones (like our arms),
a butterfly wing has no bones at all!

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

2. Discuss analogy and homology to make
sure the students understand the concepts
before beginning the activity.

3. Begin with an example: Think of a dog's
paw, a human hand and an elephant's
trunk. Have the students say what each is
used for, and point to the part of their own
body that is analogous or homologous to
the example given (for the elephant trunk,
they would point to their nose). Are these
analogous? Homologous?

V The Activity

1. Divide the class up into teams of 3-4
students. One team member should be
responsible for writing down responses.
Give one copy of the Adaptation Lab
Worksheet to each team.

2. Make one copy of the Lab Cards. Designate
four tables or desks in the room, and tape
the cards to the tables. Put all of the
Group 1 Lab Cards on one table and so
on so that there is one table for each group
of Lab Cards. (If the class is larger than
30 students you may want to make two
duplicate sets of tables and Lab Cards.)

3. Start the groups off at different tables
and have them answer the questions on
the worksheet. Try not to help too much,
because their own analytical thinking is the
important part!

4. After all of the groups have had a chance
to answer all of the questions at all of
the tables, have each group stand at
one of the tables. They should choose a
representative to read their answers to the
class and explain the answers. If other
students disagree, guide a discussion.

V Enrichment

1. If you have not already done them, the
students can complete activities 1 and 3 in
the Natural History of Sea Turtles.

2. Students can choose another animal and
either observe that animal or find a picture
of it. Have them list adaptations they see
and what environmental factor might have
caused that adaptation.

I. H and Eckert (205 An E sHab"oo IDECAST Techni Re 3 1

Adaptation Lab Worksheet

Group 1:

Group 3:

1. Define the term analogous. Which two
structures in group 1 are analogous?

2. Are there any structures in group 1 that have
no bone structure?

3. What differences do you see between the
bat wing bone structure and the turtle flipper
bone structure? Why do you think they are
this way?

4. How are the turtle and human forelimbs
similar? How are they different?

Group 2:

5. Define homologous. Are there
homologous structures in group 2?

6. Are there any structures without bones? If
so, what do they have instead of bones?

7. What activities are these four structures
used for?

8. How are the turtle and human limbs similar?
How are they different?

9. What is one thing you can think of that all four
of these structures are used for?

10. Are the human rib cage and the turtle
carapace homologous? Are the crab shell
and sea urchin spine?

11. If you could pick out one of group 3 that was
different from the others, which would it be?

12. Which of the two animals represented by the
parts in group 3 do you think are most closely

Group 4:

13. A shark's fins do not have bone structure.
Why do you think this is true?

14. How many of these structures are
analogous? Homologous? Which ones?

15. Name the functions) of the tail for each of
the four animals in group 4.

16. Can you think of animals that have different
uses for their tail than those above?

Lab Cards


Group 1

Sea Turtle
Front Flipper

G group 1

I Butterfly Wing

S..- Group 2
-- $
.1ia Sea Turtle
Rear Flipper


11 [ Group 2

I | uHuman

Group 2

Fish Caudal

Ii[ii Harold i ,t ----iuu an E*cke, (05 An E co Handbook i Techn ical Reor 3 1

Lab Cards

Group 3

Sea Turtle

Group 3

Crab Shell

Group 3

Human Rib


Group 3

Sea Urchin

Group 4

Snake Tail

Shark "tail" or
Caudal Fin

Group 4

Sea Turtle

Group 4

Dog Tail

- -I

Harold and Ektli. (205 An Eductor' Hn-- WIDECAST T ich ,cal ep t --

Turtle Nest Box

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V Summary
Students will learn how sea turtles
use special behaviors to nest on the
beach, and will learn what a nest
looks like by building one.

V Objectives

Students will:
Identify five different sea turtle
Define an "arribada".
Determine the probable sex
of sea turtle hatchlings.
Reproduce a sea turtle nest.

V Why Is It Important?

We rarely get to see sea turtles
when they are in the water, but when
they come to the beach to nest, we
have more contact with them. We
understand much more about sea
turtles' nesting behavior than their
underwater behavior. For example,
scientists discovered that sea turtles
normally return to nest on the beach
where they hatched. This tells us
that if a beach is used this year by
turtles for nesting, it will be used in 30
years, and is an important part of the
turtle's survival. Understanding the
nesting behavior of turtles helps us to
protect them.

V Background

As a turtle comes ashore, its flippers
change from being used to swim
and steer, to pulling its heavy body
up the beach. In doing so the turtle
leaves behind a clear track which
can be used to identify her species.
Leatherback and green turtles move
their foreflippers forward together.

They leave behind a symmetrical
track. Hawksbills, loggerheads
and ridleys alternate their gait.
One front flipper moves forward
at the same time as the hind
flipper on the opposite side,
leaving behind a track with offset
flipper marks. The width of the
track can also help to identify the
species. A larger turtle leaves a
wider track.

Females generally nest during
seasons that are warm and dry.
They will deposit from 1 to 12
clutches of eggs per nesting
season, with an average of 3
to 6 clutches. Most sea turtles
show strong nest site fidelity,
often returning to the exact
same nesting beach for many
consecutive nestings.

The sand color, composition,
and compaction are some of the
factors important in determining
how moist the nest will remain
over time. Moisture in the nest
is critical in keeping a steady

Unlike chicken eggs, in sea turtle
eggs the embryo attaches itself
to the inside of the egg shell and
breathes directly through the

Leatherbacks lay many infertile,
often smaller "barrier" eggs in
each nest, usually last, so they
are at the top of the nest. These
eggs may serve to seal the nest,
preventing sand from sifting in
between the larger eggs below.
They may also humidify the nest
as they lose moisture over time.

All sea turtles practice solitary
nesting, but Kemp's ridleys in
the Caribbean, as well as olive
ridleys in the Pacific, exhibit


\n.11 -,i ILi. lI

I Hrl and E r2 A Eduat,, Hn o WIpD] Techica Re 3 1

aggregated nesting known as an arribada.
Often the mass nesting appears to happen
with certain moon or tidal phases. Why do
you think sea turtles would nest this way?
Perhaps for the same reason that birds
fly in flocks, for protection from predators.
Remember that while adult sea turtles have
few predators in the water, on land the sea
turtles, and especially the hatchlings, are
veryvulnerable. Bynesting in an arribadathe
sea turtle ensures that millions of hatchlings
will emerge from the sand together, thus
increasing their chances of survival.

Unlike some other animals (like humans),
a sea turtle's sex is not determined at
the time of conception, but is influenced
by the temperature of the sand in the
nest. In general, warmer temperatures
produce females and cooler temperatures
produce males. Eggs in the center of the
nest receive more heat and may be more
likely to be females! Humans can change
beach temperatures by cutting down shade
vegetation, or by planting it!

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

2. Write the following steps of nesting on
the board and have the students put
them in order.

laying eggs
crawling to a suitable nest site
digging the egg chamber
burying and disguising the nest
crawling up on to the beach

You can then ask the students to draw
the series of events.

V The Activity

1. Copy and distribute the Turtle Tracks page.

2. Have the students work in pairs to try to
match the turtle with its track. Have them
refer back to the description of the tracks in
the Background Information.

3. Copy and distribute the Sex Determination
page. Have the students work individually
to color in the eggs they believe will be
female and leave the eggs white that they
believe will be male.

4. Create a model sea turtle nest to show the

Cut the front panel out of a Styrofoam
cut a plastic sheet (Plexiglas is best) so
that it will fit the front panel and secure
with tape or staples.
make sure your Styrofoam balls or other
substitute are the size of table tennis (ping
pong) balls, and an appropriate color.
paint the inside of the plastic with sand
colored paint to resemble a nest chamber
in the sand.
Let the paint dry
Assemble the nest by filling the cooler
with "eggs". Remember that there will be
around 10cm at the top of the nest with
no eggs where the turtle will fill in sand to
bury the eggs (the overburden).
Label the parts of the nest with paper tags,
and put some facts about turtle nesting on
the cooler so that other students can learn
what you know about sea turtle nesting!

V Enrichment

1. Have students read the Arribada page,
an excerpt from Archie Carr's book So
Excellent a Fishe. Have the students draw
the arribada. This section probably has a
lot of new vocabulary; the students should
be prepared to use the glossary often.

Haroldp an Ecet(05*n dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

Turtle Tracks



A. Parallel flipper marks
as from a "butterfly-stroke"
crawling pattern
B. Ridged track center with
a thin. straight, and
well-defined tail-drag
mark that is punctuated
by tail- point marks
C. Extensive marking from
front flippers at the
margins of the track
And extending the
total track width to
5 6 feet or greater

I- 5tr--

A. Alternating comma-shaped flipper marks
B. Wavy and smoothed track center with no thin,
straight, and well-defined tail-drag mark
C. No regular marking from front flippers
at the margins of the track

;6 W*-

A, Parallel flipper marks as from a
"butterfly-stroke" crawling pattern
B. Ridged track center with a thin, straight, and
well-defined tail-drag mark that is punctuated
by tail-point marks
C Regular marking from front flippers
at the margins of the track


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Ii H o an Eckert. (0 5 I E t Handbook WI[;::: :Techn :cal p 3 1

Sex Determination


--A --

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The Average Temperature is collected with "probes" or thermometers in each nest which record the daily
average temperature (in degrees Celsius,oC). These values are used to calculate an Average Temperature
over the length of the two-month incubation. Each species has a characteristic "pivotal temperature",
which may vary slightly with latitude. The pivotal temperature is that temperature at which an equal
number of male and female hatchlings are produced in the nest. If the average incubation temperature
rises above the pivotal, females are likely to dominate.

Nest # Species (pivotal Average Predominant Sex of
temperature) Temperature Hatchlings?
1 Hawksbill (29.32 oC) 30.2 C

2 Green (28.26 oC) 29.6 C

3 Leatherback (28.47 oC) 27.6 C

4 Loggerhead (28.47 oC) 26.9 C

A rribada from "So Excellent a Fishe" by Archie Carr

The lights went out. A switch snapped and the screen lit up with an aerial view of a long, straight beach,
bordered by broad surf, like lace between the ivory sand and the deep blue of a wind-whipped sea.
Then the scene changed and an airplane stood on the beach, and another was coming in for a
landing. When the second plane stopped a man got out, walked a short distance, then began to dig up
turtle eggs. Some more men appeared from somewhere and joined him beside a monumental heap of
turtle eggs they had dug out of the sand.
It was the most turtle eggs I ever saw in one place. They were little eggs, obviously not those of a
green turtle or a loggerhead and the next scene showed why, because suddenly a turtle was there busy
with her work of digging a nest. The turtle was an Atlantic ridley. She not only was Lepidochelys kempi,
which some people said didn't lay eggs at all, but she was out there in the full sunlight of a brilliant Mexican
morning, violating the inflexible sea turtle custom of nesting after dark. So the turtle on the screen was not
only the first Atlantic ridley I had ever seen digging any beach, but she was doing it by day, as if this were
the only proper time for a sea turtle to lay her eggs.
The scene on the screen cut to another turtle digging, then to a pair digging side by side; then
to a turtle scraping sand to fill a finished nest. Then there came some exasperating footage of a man
standing on a turtle to ride; and another man started catching
eggs in his hands as a laying turtle dropped them into the nest.
For some reason, people who watch sea turtles nest seem
always bound to do those two things: catch eggs as they are
dropped, and ride on the back of a turtle. I wasn't surprised
when those men did it, but I was pretty impatient for them to
get it over with. Every thing those turtles did was to my eyes a
marvel; every slight mannerism was the material of dreams.
The playful attitude of the Mexicans seemed irresponsible.
They kept at it though, for quite a few feet of precious
film. Several more turtles came up from the surf together, and
other men tried to stand on them. Finally, when I was ready to
rend my garments, the cameraman tired of the horseplay. He
turned his lens down the shore. And there it was, the arribada
as the Mexicans call it the arrival the incredible crowning culmination of the ridley mystery. Out there,
suddenly in clear view, was a solid mile of ridleys.
I don't know how many turtles the film actually showed. Dr. Henry Hildebrand, who found the film
I am telling about, made a careful estimate of their numbers and decided there were ten thousand turtles
on shore. Counting those clearly in view on the beach, and reckoning the average time it took a female
to finish nesting, and the length of time there were turtles out on the beach that day, Henry calculated that
the whole arribada had forty thousand ridleys in it. I have not gone through the sort of calculations he did,
but just looking at the film I see no reason to think he overestimated. The customary metaphor to use in
telling of great abundance of beasts is to say that one might have walked across a lake (or stream or plain)
on their backs, or could have walked a mile without touching the earth. In the film you could have done this,
literally, with no metaphoric license at all. You could have run a whole mile down the beach on the backs of
turtles and never have set foot on the sand. And because sand was flying, and because ridleys are frisky,
petulant nesters, as compared with green turtles, the scene was charged with feverish activity. The ridleys
seemed more like overwrought creatures searching for something lost than like turtles about the business
of procreation.
One male turtle in the film, for instance, was so taken up with the spirit of the occasion that he
followed a female one out of the ten thousand females far up the beach, making fervid, unwelcome,
and futile efforts to mount her all the way. Sea turtle mating normally occurs only in the water. Seeing it in
the film like that heightened the air of unreality of the mad, unprecedented scene.

I Hrld nd Eckertp (2005) An Euto H IItC| Technical Reor 3

Navigation Obstacle Course

*Preparation Time:
1I I l 1 1ltl'.,

*Activitv Time:
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31 1-4-, nin.inr-
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45 minutes
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V Summary
Students will learn how sea turtles
navigate across oceans underwater
and try to navigate an obstacle
course just like a turtle would.

V Objectives

Students will:
Discuss two theories on how
turtles navigate underwater.
Use a compass and directions
to navigate.

V Why Is It Important?

Navigation like that performed by sea
turtles and birds and other migrating
animals continues to baffle science.
As humans drastically alter the
oceans, it is important to understand
how turtles navigate in order to
protect their migration pathways.

V Background

Many theories have been suggested
to explain the ability of some sea
turtles to migrate through thousands
of miles of open ocean, from feeding
areas to nesting grounds. Evidence
suggests that adult sea turtles will
return to lay their eggs on or near the
same beaches they emerged from as
hatchlings. Some say that hatchlings
taste the water upon first entering the
sea, creating a unique memory of the
chemical "fingerprint" of their birth
beach which they then use 20 or so
years later to find their way "home."

Another idea is that turtles "imprint"
on the unique magnetic field of their
home beach and use this information

to navigate back. Still others think
that turtles navigate by the stars or
the sun, temperatures or currents.

Sea turtles have a substance called
magnetite in small amounts in their
brains; this same substance has
been found in the brains of homing
animals like pigeons and may
explain how turtles can sense the
earth's magnetic field.

The earth acts like a large magnet.
It has a magnetic force that varies
over the surface of the earth.
This magnetic field is how we can
tell "north" on a compass. The
compass needle is magnetized and
will always point north.

How turtles navigate such long
distances in the open ocean is
most likely a combination of several
methods. Scientists are continuing
to study sea turtles to find out how
they do it!

The leatherback holds the record for
migrations in the open sea. Adults
swim about 16,000 kilometers a
year, that's almost half way around
the world!

Adult leatherbacks have a light
patch of skin on their heads directly
above the brain. It is thought that
this "pink spot" may be a window
into the brain, allowing the turtle
to calculate day length and time of
year. The pineal gland is the part
of the brain sensitive to light, and
therefore it plays a role in migration.
Humans have a pineal gland, too,
but it is buried deep within our

Wild animals migrate for different
reasons. They migrate to escape
cold weather, to find food, to find
mates, and to nest on tropical


HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

All sea turtles migrate, but none as far as the
leatherback. Hawksbill turtles, for example
feed in the coral reef and so they rarely leave
tropical waters. All sea turtles, however, seem
to return to their home beach to nest, making
very precise navigation necessary.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

2. Can the students think of any other animals
that migrate? Are there any birds that are
present part of the year and then leave?
Are there fish that swim through at a certain
time of year? This "coming and going"
may involve long distance migrations.
Why do each of these animals migrate?
Are they chasing food? Escaping cold?

V The Activity

1. Have the students work in pairs for this
activity. Each student should pick an
object on the playground or field to serve
as the "home beach". Have the student
start at the land mark and make a trail
with several different straight sections in
different directions leading away from the
beach. The student should keep track of
the compass heading and distance in each
straight section of the trail. The student
should reverse the compass directions 180
degrees so that the trail leads to the beach,
not away from it. The student should write
each section down as a compass heading
and a distance.

2. Have each student give their trail
information to the other student in the pair.
They should try to use the compass and
tape measure to find their "home beach".

This is what it might be like to use magnetic
cues to navigate! If compasses are not
available, use landmarks (trees, buildings)
as if they were stars. Instead of compass

1 1600 30m

3000 45m

1500 50m

headings, use landmark directions like: stand
halfway between the two trees and walk 10
meters forward. This is (a little bit) like using
the moon and stars for navigation!

3. What other information would the student
need if he/she were going to find the "home
beach" from very far away? How would you
get that information?

V Enrichment

1. If you have access to the Internet, you can
view the migrations of actual sea turtles.
Compare the leatherbacks to other turtles.
How far did they go? One place to access
these tracks is http://www.cccturtle.org/satl.

2. Have students read Longest Migration, the
included article about arctic terns, which have
the longest migration in the world! Compare
and contrast tern and turtle migrations. How
are they different? Similar? What cues do
the birds rely upon?

JHarold am Eckert (20 ) An n E atS.o H II] T echnical R t 3

Longest Migration (Enrichment)

One Good Tern Deserves Another
(Arctic, That Is)

The Arctic Tern is a small bird that is about 12-15" in length and weighs under 2 pounds. However,
this little avian wonder can claim the "Longest Migration Award," travelling from the far northern polar
regions down to Antarctica!
Terns are in the Laridae family, along with Jaegers and Gulls. The Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea,
is medium-sized, as terns go, white body with a black smooth and rounded head, short legs, and a
slender short bright orange beak that will turn
to red during breeding season. Its long tail is
deeply forked while its wings have a dark trailing
edge to them. An Arctic Tern's feet are small and
webbed. Both male and females are similar in
appearance, attaining full adult plumage in their
third year.

During breeding season, these terns are
throughout the polar regions above the 50th "
parallel in the Arctic Circle, forming colonies
from 50 to thousands of pairs of birds. One to
two small eggs are laid in the grass or sand,
incubated by both the male and female. The
chicks, which hatch after about 22 days, are fed
shrimp, insects and small fish caught by their
parents. The terns will aggressively defend their young and nesting areas from other birds as well as
people. In around 25 days, the young terns have fledged and are able to fly.

Arctic Terns spend much of their life in the air. Catching fish, they will hover in the air and then dive to
the water surface, grabbing their meal. Insects are caught as they gracefully swoop through the air.
They may even feed their young while hovering.

Arctic Terns migrate over the sea and are rarely seen from land except during breeding season. It
is said that their migration path is over 22,000 miles (35,000 km) each year and may be the longest
avian migration. Because of their migration timetable, Arctic Terns are thought to be in daylight longer
than other birds. As the late summer days get shorter, the Arctic Terns begin their migration south,
leaving their breeding area only around 90 days from the time they arrived in the Arctic. From North
America, they will travel across the Atlantic Ocean to southern Europe, down the coast of Africa to the
Antarctic or sometimes back to South American and then south down to the Antarctic regions where
it is summer and food is plentiful.

Taken from:

Tarski, Christine (2002) http://birding.about.com/library/weekly/aa020700a.htm

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Turtle Diving Profiles

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V Summary
Students will learn how and why
sea turtles dive to extreme depths,
and plot the diving profile of two
leatherback turtles.

V Objectives

Students will:
Describe two adaptations that
help a sea turtle dive.
List two reasons why sea
turtles dive, and what makes
the various turtles different.
Plot diving data on a graph.

V Why Is It Important?

As with navigation in the previous
activity, sea turtles can dive to depths,
and for lengths of time unthinkable to
human beings. Most of our deep-
diving equipment can't venture as
deep as a leatherback sea turtle! By
learning a little bit more about turtles
- what they eat, where they live, and
how they live we also learn a little
bit about ourselves and we can study
the differences between humans
and turtles. Let's say that fisheries
managers want to stop the accidental
catch of sea turtles in fishing nets.
The managers want to know what
time of day the turtle is most likely to
be shallow, and what time of day the
turtle is most likely to be deep. With
this information, he/she can make
more effective rules about fishing.
Studying diving behavior can help
answer these questions.

V Background

Even before we had sophisticated
equipment that allows us to track the
dives of turtles in the ocean, scientists



suspected deep diving capabilities,
especially in leatherbacks. Stomach
contents showed that leatherbacks
ate deep water jellyfish and
siphonophores (a close relative of
the jellyfish). Leatherbacks also
have skeletal similarities to deep
diving marine mammals like whales
and some seals.

While all sea turtles dive to get food,
escape predators and perhaps
regulate their body temperature,
leatherbacks are particularly im-
pressive divers. Adult females are
known to reach depths exceeding
1000m in the Caribbean.

Shallow diving, air-breathing or-
ganisms, like humans, usually inhale
before a dive and store most of the
oxygen for that dive within their lungs.
Before you dive underwater what do
you do? Where do you keep the air
you will use underwater?

In contrast, the leatherback sea
turtle is adapted to store much of
the oxygen it needs for deep-diving
within its blood and other tissues.
Loggerhead sea turtles can hold
25% more oxygen in their lungs than
leatherbacks can, but hold less than
half as much oxygen in their blood
and tissue as a leatherback.

One of the limitations for humans
(and most animals) during deep
diving is the increasing pressure as
you go deeper. At the surface of the
ocean, the pressure felt on your body
is 1.05 kg/cm. This is the pressure
you feel everyday on land, but as you
go deeper underwater the pressure
increases. At shallow depths this
pressure is what causes your ears
to pop!

At 1000 meters, close to a
leatherback's deepest recorded dive,
the pressure is 105 kg/cm, 100 times
the pressure you feel above the

I Hrl and E c (2005) An E H b pW.DECAS Technical epor 3 1

water. Imagine 100 kg lying on top of you.
That is what the pressure is like at 1000m.

A leatherback is specially designed for these
depths both because of its oxygen storage and
because it does not have a hard shell. The
leatherback's shell compresses as it dives,
keeping the turtle from being crushed by the
pressure. The reason for the leatherback's
flexibility is that its ribs are not fused together
to form a hard bony shell.

It is commonly thought that leatherbacks are
following their food when they dive. Why else
might diving be a good idea for the relatively
soft-bodied leatherbacks?

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

2. Have the students think about the last time
they went swimming. Have you ever been
diving underwater? What happened? If
you were wearing a mask, did it press
against your face? Why? Did your ears
pop? Why?

3. Have you prepared to go underwater by
taking quick shallow breaths before you
took a big breath to go under? What
purpose do you think this serves? Why
would a deep diving animal not want
to store oxygen in its lungs? Why do
humans rely so heavily on lungs for
oxygen storage?

V The Activity

1. Copy and distribute the Dive Data page and
the Graph Paper page to each student.
Have the students work individually for
this activity.

2. Have the students set up their graph
paper as follows:
A title at the top

An X-axis title at the bottom (dive depth)
A Y-axis title along the left hand side (dive
The X-axis should start at the shallowest
depth recorded for both turtles and end at
the deepest depth recorded. The meters
should be evenly divided between the
squares on the graph paper.
The Y-axis should be set up the same way
for dive time.

3. Use the Dive Data sheet to plot the depth of
each dive v. the dive time. Try to draw a "best
fit" line through the dots that shows the trend.
Do this for both turtles on one sheet, using
a different color for each one. Answer the
questions on the data sheet.

V Enrichment

1. If you have access to eye droppers, a plastic
soda bottle, a cup and water, you can simulate
how animals and submarines dive.
2. Fill the plastic bottle and the glass almost to
the top with water.
3. Fill the dropper with enough water by
squeezing the bulb so that the top of the bulb
floats at the surface of the water.
4. Now place the full dropper in the plastic soda
bottle and attach the top
5. Ask the students to predict what will happen
when the soda bottle is squeezed. When it is
6. Squeeze the soda bottle and watch what
happens to the eye dropper.
7. Discuss what changes the squeezing caused
that made the dropper move.

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Dive Data

Turtle 1

night time

Dive # Dive Depth (m) EDive Time (min Surface Time (min)

40 1 ..9 4.()

Turtle 2
Dive # Dive Depth (m) Dive Time (min) SuWface Time (min)
7^__________:___________ 1
4 l..4 :411
5 4.) .3 0 1.1
6 1 1 10 .7 9 .)
7 5.2 22 14.6

10 31.4 2.9 1 1.0

Source: Eckert, S., D. W. Nellis, K. L. Eckert, and G. L. Kooyman.1986. Diving Patterns of Two Leatherback Sea Turtles
During Internesting Intervals at Sandy Point, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Herpetologica 42(3):381-386.


1. Does it seem that the longer the dive, the deeper the dive from your graph? Just by looking at
the data above, do leatherbacks seem to dive deeper during the day or the night? Can you guess

2. Does the trend line seem to be a good fit? Are there many points far away from the line? The
closer the data points are to the line you've drawn, the better the "fit". If there is a lot of scatter
around the line, the relationship between the information represented along the x-axis and the y-
axis is harder to predict.

3. Is there a correlation between dive time and surface time? Can you guess why (or why not)?

Ii Harld and Eckert (05 i Eco Handbook i Technical Repo 3 1

__ ~ + + 4 + F + 4 + 4 F + ~ 4 + 4 + F

F 4 + 4 + F + F 4 + 4 F + F 4 + 4 + F

F 4 + 4 + F + F 4 + 4 F + F 4 + 4 + F

__ F + + 4 + F + F 4 + 4 F + F 4 + 4 + F

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Turtle Quiz Show

V Summary
Students will recall sea turtle
S --- knowledge by playing the Sea Turtle
.. Quiz Show.

V Objectives

This acti -it\ can be used at
in\ time, simply change the

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Students will:
Recall important sea turtle
facts from earlier lessons

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Make five columns on the
blackboard titled: Adaptations,
Diving, Navigation, Nesting, and
Life Underwater. Make six rows
so that there are six squares in
each column. Label the six rows
with point values.

2. The questions are included on
the pages labeled Quiz Show
Questions. These are for the
instructor to use so she/he can
read the questions to the class.

V The Activity

1. Reproduce the table below on
the blackboard or a large piece
of paper in the front of the
classroom. Split the class into
three teams and have each
team stand in a line facing the

2. Give the three students in front
three different objects to make
noise with (a coin hitting a can,
etc.) so they can "ring in".

3. The three students in thefront of
the line play first. They choose
a category and value. The
instructor reads the question.
The first student to ring in must
answer the question, to earn
the points. If he/she cannot
answer the question the second
to ring in can have a chance to
answer it. The students cannot
get help from their teammates.
Ask the other students to keep
the answers to themselves.
After all the students have
played, the highest scoring
team wins.

Adaptations Diving Navigation Life Nesting

100 100 100 100 100

200 200 200 200 200

300 300 300 300 300

400 400 400 400 400

500 500 500 500 500

600 600 600 600 600

Quiz Show Questions


100 Sea turtles have special adaptations in order to live where?
* underwater
200 Name two adaptations sea turtles have for swimming.
* example: flippers, flattened shell, streamlined form, enlarged chest muscles, breath-holding
300 Are sea turtles more closely related to tortoises or to whales?
* tortoises (whales are mammals, not reptiles)
400 -Adaptations help an organism to do what?
* survive and reproduce in a particular environment
500 -A hawksbill's shell pattern helps to hide the turtle. This is
known as what?
. camouflage
600 -Are a bird's wing and a butterfly's wing analogous or
. analogous


100 Which is the deepest diving sea turtle?
* leatherback
200 What food items are leatherbacks chasing when they dive?
* jellyfish (or related animals such as siphonophores)
300 Name two adaptations that leatherback sea turtles have for
* ability to store oxygen in the blood and tissues (to avoid the bends), powerful flippers,
flexible carapace, streamlined body form
400 Do leatherbacks dive deeper at night or during the day?
* day
500 How deep can leatherbacks dive?
* at least 1000 meters
600 Is there a correlation between dive time and surface time with
the leatherback data you analyzed?
* yes

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr


100 Do all sea turtles walk with the same "gait" on land?
* no
200 What are two ways to tell turtle tracks apart?
. the size (width), and whether the flipper marks are symmetrical or not
300 What determines the sex of a baby sea turtle?
* temperature during nest incubation
400 How can humans affect the balance of sexes in sea turtle
* cut down vegetation or otherwise alter beach temperatures
500 What is the name of the mass nestings of some turtles?
. arribada, Spanish for "arrival"
600 Which sea turtles nest in an arribada?
. the ridleys: Kemp's ridley and olive ridley


100 Do sea turtles navigate well or poorly?
* well
200 Name two areas that sea turtles might migrate between.
. feeding grounds and nesting grounds, mating grounds and nesting grounds
300 Name two ways that turtles might navigate.
* stars and moon, magnetic compass, wave compass, current patterns
400 True or False, sea turtles nest on a different beach every year.
* false
500 What is the name of the gland under the "pink spot" that
leatherbacks may use to assess day length and helps in navigation?
. pineal gland
600 Which sea turtle species has the longest migration?
. leatherback

I Harol and cket U0 A Edeuc ndbook. IDA Techni R;por 3 1

Life Underwater:

100 Do sea turtles have gills or lungs?
* lungs
200 Do adult sea turtles use their back flippers for moving
. no, they use them to steer and to dig nest holes
300 How do sea turtles get rid of the salt from the water they
. it is excreted in "tears" from tear ducts in the eyes
400 -Are sea turtles endothermic or ectothermic?
* ectothermic
500 What makes sea turtles ectothermic?
* they use behavioral means (like basking) to regulate body temperature
600 The word that describes the amount of salt in sea water is
. salinity

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Unit 1 and 2 References

American Forest Foundation. 2003. Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education PreK-8
Activity Guide. Bozeman, MT.

Anon. 2003. Project Wet Curriculum and Activity Guide. The Watercourse, MT.

Bland, S. 2001. Sea Turtle Trek. Hammocks Beach State Park. Swansboro, NC.

Council for Environmental Education. 1992. Aquatic Project Wild K-12 Activity Guide. Project Wild,

Eckert, S. A., D. W. Nellis, K. L. Eckert, G. L. Kooyman. 1986. Diving Patterns of Two Leatherback
Sea Turtles During Intemesting Intervals at Sandy Point, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Herpetologica 42(3): 381-388.

Evans, D. and D. Godfrey (eds). 1999. Sea Turtle and Coastal Habitat Education
Program: An Educators Guide. Caribbean Conservation Corporation. Gainesville, FL.

Gulko, D. A. and K. L. Eckert. 2003. Sea Turtles: An Ecological Guide. Mutual Publishing,
Honolulu, HI.

Hodge, K. V. D., R. Connor, and G. Brooks. 2003. Anguilla Sea Turtle Educator's Guide, The Anguilla
National Trust, Anguilla, British West Indies.

Lutz, P. L. and J. L. Musick. 1997. The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Ormrod, J. E. 2003. Educational Philosophy: Developing Learners. 4th Edition. New York, NY.

Van Meter, V. 1992. Florida's Sea Turtles. Florida Power and Light Company. Miami, FL.

Wiles, J. 1999. Curriculum Essentials: A Resource for Educators. Allyn & Bacon, MA.





HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Natural History of Sea Turtles


*Preparation Time:
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V Summary
Students will recreate the life cycle of
a sea turtle and discover the origins
and adaptations unique to sea turtles.

V Objectives

Students will:
Compare sea turtles to other
List 3 adaptations sea turtles
have for living underwater.
Be able to correctly construct a
sea turtle's life cycle.

V Why Is It Important?

One of the reasons that sea turtles
are difficult to manage and protect is
because scientists know so little about
them. If scientists do not know how
manyhatchlingsare needed to maintain
a breeding population, how can he
or she know what nest conservation
steps to take? Taking care of these
animals means understanding them,
including how they are similar to other
animals and how they are different.
These activities will provide a basic
understanding of the natural history of
sea turtles.

V Background

Turtles first appeared on land more
than 200 million years ago. The oldest
sea turtle fossil dates back about 112
million years. By around 65 million
years ago, four distinct families of sea
turtle roamed the world's seas.

All turtles, including sea turtles, are
reptiles. Reptiles are a part of the
Animal Kingdom and are generally

ectothermic, or cold-blooded. Other
marine reptiles include saltwater
crocodiles, marine iguanas and sea

Each type of reptile has adapted to
its habitat. Sea turtles have flippers
in order to swim in the ocean while
tortoises are land turtles with thick
legs for body support and walking.
Freshwater turtles have webbed feet
for walking and for swimming in lakes
and streams.

Turtle ancestors developed a hard
shell as a type of armor to protect them
against the predators that existed
millions of years ago. When turtles
developed a shell, it meant a loss of
flexibility in the body. The advantage,
however, was that the large domed
shell created room for pulling the head
and limbs inside the shell, thereby
protecting the turtle. To return to
the ocean, several modifications or
adaptations were necessary. For
example, the large boxy shell needed
to be streamlined. But there was a
trade-off: the streamlined shell means
that sea turtles are unable to pull their
head and limbs inside their shell.

Sea turtle eggs, however, never
adapted to life underwater, so the
females have to return to land in order
to lay eggs. But now the sea turtle's
body is not built to move on land! Sea
turtles are slow and vulnerable when
they are on the beach and so they
often nest at night when it is safer.

Sea turtles start their lives on land as
tiny hatchlings protected by a leathery
egg. After the hatchlings emerge from
the nest and make it to the water, male
sea turtles will never return to land,
while females will return many times in
their adult lives to lay their own eggs.

"Life history" is the history of changes
in an organism's life, from birth to its


( -i bbh in
[ ciun-,

I Harl and Eckert [(205 A_.n Educator's U n o T Report 3

natural death. It turns out that sea turtle life
history is pretty consistent across species. In all
cases, eggs are laid in a cavity dug in the warm
sand of a suitable nesting beach. Incubation
typically lasts 55 to 70 days, at which time
the hatchlings move cooperatively toward the
surface, emerge from the sand, and scramble
to the sea. There is no parental care, meaning
that the female does not stay with the eggs or
hatchlings to care for them.

Once at sea, the hatchlings gain nourishment
(food) from a yolk sac within. They do not stop to
feed, but instead they undertake a "swim frenzy"
that lasts several days and is designed to take
them past nearshore predators and into the open
sea. It is there that they spend the first several
years of their lives, seeking shelter in floating
seaweeds and other flotsam, before returning to
nearshore waters as young juveniles, about the
size of a dinner plate. Most species are highly
mobile during the decades spent as a juvenile
and subadult, moving freely among the waters
of many Caribbean nations.

At sexual maturity the sea turtle will recruit into
the adult population and eventually migrate to
mating and nesting areas. Evidence suggests
that, after mating, the egg-laden female returns
to the general coastal area where she was born.
Most return to the same beach! The female digs
a nest cavity and the cycle starts anew. When
she has finished egg-laying, nesting as many as
12 (but more likely 3-6) times during the nesting
season, she will return to her "adult habitat",
which is her preferred feeding area. Her adult
habitat might be hundreds or thousands of miles/
km from her nesting beach. She will make this
migration every 2-5 years for the rest of her life.

3. Scientists have recorded green sea turtles
holding their breath for up to 5 hours. How
long can the students hold their breath? Why
can't humans hold their breath for 5 hours?

V The Activity

1. Copy the Turtle Adaptation cards and cut
them along the dotted lines to make 20 cards.
If more are needed, make multiple copies of
each card. Keep a copy of the cards so that
you can give hints to the students as they do
the activity. Shuffle the cards and give each
student one card. Tell the students that they
each have a description of a turtle adaptation
on their card. Some cards describe a sea
turtle and the others describe a terrestrial box

2. Students are to find, and stand next to, others
whose cards are describing the same turtle
(box turtles stand next to box turtles, sea
turtles stand next to sea turtles).

3. Students cannot show their cards to anyone,
but must read the information to another
student when requested. Give the students
a time limit such as three minutes to perform
this task. In the end there will be two groups.
Have each group present their turtle to the
other group.

4. Copy the Life cycle Cutouts page and have
the students cut out the eight pieces of the life
cycle. Students can work in pairs to try to
fit the life cycle of a sea turtle together. An
answer key is provided.

V Procedure V Enrichment

Warm Up
1. Pass out copies of the Background
Information as a reading assignment, or
read it aloud.

2. Discuss adaptation. What adaptations do
you have that help you to live on the land?
The same way that humans have a lower
metabolism when we are asleep, sea turtles
can slow their metabolism. This helps them
stay underwater for long periods of time.

1. Have each student write a short essay that
identifies and discusses any 5 adaptations
that sea turtles have that make them different
from land turtles, or able to live in the water.

2. Have the students study the Leatherback
Picture Have them describe the turtle out loud
and name adaptations they see. Why does the
shell have ridges? Why are the rear flippers
smaller than the front flippers? Why is the jaw

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Leatherback Picture

I Hald; a ind ( ;_ Ecke n *Au s B b WID| I Technic Rpr 3

Life cycle Cutouts


I Nestin Mnestin

Adult habitat



Halchling dispersal to open waters



r----------------- -

| Juvenile and subadult habitat I

I I-- -.

Juvenile Movement to
I Coastal Waters |
I '^ K PI

r- --- ---

I Recruitment to
Adult Population

-- J

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Turtle Adaptation Cards (sea turtle)

F T i i i i i i i i i i-

As an adult my average weight is around
160kg and I am usually over 1 meter
long. My large size deters most preda-
tors and helps retain my body heat.

I am cold blooded, which means I de-
pend on outside sources of heat to main-
tain my body temperature. This is one
reason I am normally found in tropical

Even though I spend most of my life in
I The top part of my shell is somewhat I the water, I do not have gills. I have I
flattened to help me swim. Scutes cover lungs. I can hold my breath for several
my shell. The rear edge of my shell is hours. During long periods underwater
I particularly thick, which may offer some my metabolism slows down and my heart'
protection from sharks. beats as little as one beat every nine I
Four flippers power me through the wa- As adults we spend our entire lives in
ter and help me crawl on land. I use mycept in the summer months
long front flippers to propel myself, and hen females of our species crawl onto
when females of our species crawl onto
my short rear ones to steer and change the beach to lay eggs. Males of my spe-
directions. I also use my rear ones for cies almost never come out of the water.

Females lay soft, leathery eggs that look I get all my water through the foods I eat
like table tennis balls. The leather shell and the salt water I swallow. I have spe-
1 prevents breakage and allows oxygen Icial glands that remove and store excess
into and out of the egg. This is important| salt. I periodically excrete excess salt |
because when we finish laying the eggs, from these glands through tear ducts. It
we bury them with sand! makes it look like I am crying.
P I---- -- -- -- --+N

I do not have any teeth. Instead I have
a sharp-edged jaw with a beak at the tip.
This allows me to crush shelled animals
and pick out the meat with my beak.

As a hatchling, I escaped from ghost
crabs, dogs and people. So far I have
managed to avoid sharks, large fish,
boats, pollution and other dangers. It
is estimated that fewer than one out of
1,000 of my kind survives to adulthood.

I. - JE - J

IeaodadEkrt(05 nEuatrsHnbo IDCS ehia Rport3.

Turtle Adaptation Cards

(box turtle)

r - q. - Eu

Young of my species are about the size of
a quarter and are vulnerable to predators,
such as snakes and dogs, until their shells
develop at four years of age

I do not have teeth. Instead, I have a
sharp-edged jaw that is tipped with a
beak. This allows me to feed on a wide
variety of plants and animals that live in
the forest

Most animals must seek shelter or main-
I When cold weather sets in, I bury myself IMost animals must seek shelter or main-
Stol fether lsesi b m tain a burrow, nest or other form of shelter.
About two feet under loose soil and leaves m T
Not me, I carry mine on my back! This is *
to hibernate. This eliminates the need for, ry
one reason I am able to stay on the move. |
me to travel long distances in search ofone reason I am able to stay on the move.
warmth. I do not have to worry about shelter, just
warmth. food.

Flowers depend on me to disperse the
seeds from their fruit which I eat.

am omnivorous, which means I eat both
plants and animals. My diet includes
snails, slugs, beetles, worms, spiders,
berries, fruit, fungi and mushrooms.

P *I + -

Males of my species have hind claws that
are shorter, stockier and more curved that
Ithe females' claws. Males also have lon- I
ger thicker tails and a shallow depression |
on their plastron. Males usually have red
eyes, while females' eyes are brown.
I,-------- -- -- -----

I Females of my species dig a nest in the I
forest soil and lay a clutch of three to eight
soft, leathery eggs. Up to three clutches
may be laid in a season, from the months
of May through July.

A long time ago, native people killed my
species for food and used our shells for I
rattles. Some even buried us with the

As an adult I am 4 to 6.5 inches in length.
My small size and camouflage make it
hard for predators to detect me.

I. - JE - J

Sea Turtle Life Cycle Answer Key
., Source: Ross, JP et al. 1989. The Status of Kemp's
SRidley: A Report to Center for Marine Conservation.



D. 3

.11 V
0 F4.
0l ^^
IN 01110100

I Harol l _ndlEcke t (2005) An Educator' Handbo, WI i Rep 3 1

Caribbean Sea Turtle History

V Summary
Students will become familiar with the
history of sea turtles in the Caribbean
region, and interpret primary sources.

V Objectives

Students will:
Describe historical numbers of
sea turtles in the Caribbean.
Compare historical accounts.
Interpret historical logs.
Write creatively about the
history of the Caribbean.

V Why Is It Important?

Turtles were and continue to be an
important resource for humans living
in the Caribbean, but what did the
region look like before now? Were
there more turtles or fewer? Only
by finding out about the past can
we learn to interpret the present.
Historical information broadens our
understanding of the status, value and
potential of renewable resources.

V Background

History shows that Caribbean marine
ecosystems were extremely degraded
by the early 1900s. The green turtle,
hawksbill turtle, manatee and (now
extinct) Caribbean monk seal were
dramatically reduced by about 1800.

Estimates of pre-Columbus human
populations in the Caribbean vary,
but the populations of Jamaica and
Cuba are estimated to have been in
the hundreds of thousands of people.
These early native people were
reduced by conquest, slavery and
disease to only a few thousand by

1600, and European settlement
was slow. Interestingly, we can
deduce that the actual population
of the area was low during the
period in which the most sea
turtles may have been hunted
and killed.

Sea turtles were once abundant
in the waters of the Caribbean.
In 1503, on his fourth and
last voyage to the Caribbean,
Christopher Columbus reported
that his ship came "...in sight of
two very small and low islands,
full of tortoises, as was all the
sea about, insomuch that they
looked like little rocks, for which
reason those islands were called
Tortugas." These islands, later
renamed the Cayman Islands,
were once the site of one of
the largest green turtle nesting
colonies (rookeries) in the world.

The Taino and Carib natives who
lived in the Caribbean islands at
the arrival of European explorers
used sea turtles for food, but
seem only to have hunted enough
for food, household items, and
some trade between their small
populations. Middens, or trash
piles from more than 1000 years
ago in the Caribbean, contain
turtle bones.

Much of the early activity by
Europeans in the Caribbean was
dependent in some way on turtles.
The meat and eggs provided
a seemingly endless supply of
protein, and turtles could be kept
alive on ships for long voyages.
Turtle oil was used for cooking,
lamp fuel and as a lubricant.
Turtles were shipped to Europe,
particularly England where the
meat was considered a delicacy
and the gelatinous "calipee" found
along the lower shell was made


IPreparation Time:

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HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

into soup. By 1878, an estimated 15,000 turtles
a year were being shipped to England from
the Caribbean. By 1940 the populations were
much reduced, with once enormous rookeries,
such as in the Caymans, destroyed.

Sea turtles seem to have been extremely
common and widespread throughout the
Caribbean region before European trade began
in the 1500s. Based on evidence of sea grass
cover, some published estimates of the numbers
of green sea turtles that lived in the Caribbean
pre-Columbus range up to 660,000,000!

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and introduce the Background
Information as a reading assignment or
read it aloud in class.

V The Activity

1. Use the Make A Log Book instructions page
to have each student turn a piece of paper
into an explorer's log. Have each student
write their name on the front, title it, and
decorate it as they wish. The students will
use these log books to record the rest of the

2. Read Columbus' logs and answer the
following questions in the log book. Have
students label the page appropriately:
In the first voyage entry, the log says that
the turtles are doing what?

What time of year is it?
On the first voyage, Columbus mentions
sirens. What did he thinktheywere? What
do you suppose they actually were?
On the second voyage what does
Columbus describe the turtles doing?
How does the native fisherman catch a
sea turtle?
On the second voyage, on the 11th of June,
what kind of turtle do you think Columbus
is describing, and where are they?
What creature do you think the explorers

saw and were mystified by in the last entry?
What did Columbus think that the sighting

3. Each student should choose a plant or animal
to "discover" for the class. Have each student,
while looking at their plant or animal, write as if
they are documenting it for their country for the
first time today! Have them describe what they
hear, see, smell and feel. Have them describe
the plant or animal thoroughly, including where
it was discovered and what it was doing.

The "discovery" should be recorded in a
separate labeled section in the log. Have the
students pretend to be an explorer when they
write and include drawings if they wish. They
must also name their plant or animal! (Many
explorers named new plants and animals after
themselves, the expedition sponsor, or the
place the species was first found!)

4. Students should read their logs aloud to the

V Enrichment

1. Have the students write a short essay that tells
the full story of sea turtles in the Caribbean.
Include facts, descriptions and quotes from
the activity.

2. Have each student write a description or draw
a picture of what their country would be like if
there were millions of sea turtles in the water.
What would be different. Would it cause any
problems? Would the numbers stay that way
for long?


t k .1

HaodadEkrt(05 nEuatrsHnbo IDCS ehia Rport3.

Columbus' Logs

1st Voyage 1492-1493 Thursday, 10 January 1493
At midnight I raised sails with the wind SE and sailed to the ENE. I reached a point exactly east
of Monte Cristi [in Cuba] some 45 miles. In the shelter of this point I anchored at 3 o'clock in
the afternoon. I dared not depart from there at night because of the many reefs. The water
inside is very deep and forms a secure anchorage against all winds.
In this country there are many [sea turtles]; the sailors captured some of them that had come
ashore to lay their eggs at Monte Cristi. They are large, like great wooden shields. Yesterday,
when I was going to the Rio del Oro, I saw three sirens that came up very high out of the sea.
They are not as beautiful as they are painted, since in some ways they have a face like a man.

2nd Voyage 1493-1496
...On other islets, they saw a great number of turtles and turtle eggs which are like hen's eggs,
though their shells are not very hard. The turtles lay these eggs in holes which they make in
the sand. These they cover and leave until the heat of the sun hatches the young turtles, which
grow with time to the size of a buckler and some to the size of a large shield. In one of the
channels they saw a canoe, with Indian fishermen who remained calm and...signed to them to
wait a little until they had finished their fishing. Their method was this: they tie thin cord to the
tails of certain fishes which we call remoraa" and send these after the other fish. These remora
have a rough patch on their heads which extends down the spine and attaches itself to any
other fish that comes near. Our men saw these fisherman bring out a turtle to whose neck this
fish had attached itself.

For the next day, which was 11 June, in order to bring the ship from one channel into another
deeper one, the Admiral had to have it towed with ropes over a sandbank where there was not
a fathom of water and which was two shop-lengths wide. Drawing closer to Cuba in this way
they saw turtles three to four feet long in such vast numbers that they covered the sea.

As they continued on their voyage, the Admiral and his men saw a fish in the sea as big as a
whale. It had a large shell on its back, like that of a turtle, and kept its head, which was the size
of a barrel, out of the water. It had a tail like that of a tunny fish, very long with a large fin on
either side. By the presence of this fish and by other signs, the Admiral judged that the weather
was about to change, and began to look for a harbour in which to take refuge.

Columbus, Christopher. Christopher Columbus: The Four Voyages. Translated by J.M. Cohen (1969).
Penguin Classics, New York.

Columbus, Christopher. The Log of Christopher Columbus. Translated by Robert Fuson (1987). McGraw-
Hill. New York.

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Make a Log Book
Follow the directions below to make a small log book to record your activities.

1. Fold the paper in half the long way,
like a hot dog.

2. Open the paper.

3. Fold the paper in half the short way.


4. On one side, fold the edge of the
paper back to meet the fold.

5. Turn the paper over.

6. Fold the edge of the paper back to
meet the fold.

VIPD -4 ^a

7. Place the paper on the table so that you see a
W when you look at the end. You can also think
of it as a hot dog in a roll.

roll V.--, ,' r D6,4

8. Cut the hot dog in half along the center fold.
You'll be cutting through two layers of paper and
stopping at the cross fold.

9. With your wrists above your fingers, hold the
two halves of the hot dog from the top.

10. Turn your wrists to the sides.

11. You will have an open book with four

12. Bring three of the sections together. Fold the
last section on top of the other three so that you
have a flat book.

-I Haroold a Eckert (2005) An Edcto' H T 1 S.. ,

Turtle Key

SPreparation Time:
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MActivity Time:
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V Summary
Students use anatomical drawings
and dichotomous keys to identify
Caribbean sea turtle species.

V Objectives

Students will:
Define taxonomy
Identify three types of scutes
used to classify sea turtle
Locate all of the scutes and
shell parts.
Use a dichotomous key to
identify 6 sea turtle species.

V Why Is It Important?

The science of taxonomy deals with
the classification of organisms into
established categories. Keys are
widely used by taxonomists to identify
species and classify new species.

Although sea turtles may look similar,
each oneeatsadifferentdietand serves
a different purpose in the ecosystem.
The ability to identify each species of
turtle is fundamental to knowing about
them and understanding their various

V Background

The word "taxonomy" comes form the
Greek words meaning arrangement
and law. By following certain rules of
taxonomy, biologists have arranged
known organisms into related
groups. Biologists carefully observe
an organism's anatomy, ecology,
and distribution before placing it into
a specific category or group.


All organisms are first divided into
large groups known as Kingdoms.
There are five widely-recognized
Kingdoms: Monera, Protista,
Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.
Each Kingdom is then split into
smaller and smaller groupings,
with species (or subspecies) being
the smallest taxonomic grouping.

A key is an essential tool in the
science of taxonomy. Biologists,
students and others use these
keys to help them identify unknown
organisms. A key is an ordered
list of characteristics that describe
organisms. Keys often specialize in
a particular type of organism such
as flowering plants, freshwater fish,
or sea turtles. Keys usually contain
pictures and drawings, as well as
written descriptions, to guide the
reader to the correct name for the
unknown organism.

Most keys are dichotomouss",
meaning dividing or branching
into two parts. At each level of a
dichotomous key, the reader
must choose from two descriptions.
The reader carefully observes
the unknown organism and then
chooses the description in the key
that best matches the organism.
One choice leads to another until
finally the reader reaches the name
of the organism!

Before using the Turtle Key, you
must be familiar with the terms
that describe sea turtle anatomy.
The "Sea Turtle Identification"
illustration shows and defines the
key characteristics you must know
in order to identify sea turtles.

When you understand the words
plastron, carapace, and scute,
you are ready to begin reading at
the top of the Turtle Key.

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Study one of the included Sea Turtle Cards.
read the two statements labeled "1" at the
top of the Turtle Key. If your turtle picture
matches 1A, you can write Leatherback on
the card. If your turtle picture matches 1B,
you go to "2" or the second level of the key.
You will then read 2A and 2B and decide
which description best fits your picture. Your
choice at level 2 will send you to either level
3 or level 4. Keep reading the key until you
arrive at the name of a turtle.

As you work your way through the key,
you may want to take notes by listing your
choices at each level on the back of the turtle
card. This will help you later if you need to
find places in the key where you may have
made the wrong choice and that may have
led you to the incorrect name for your turtle.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Divide the students into teams of two
for this activity. Hand out copies of the
Background Information, the Sea Turtle
Key, Picture Cards, and Identification
page. Have the students read the
Background Information and study the
accompanying diagram of sea turtle
external anatomy. They should also
preview the Sea Turtle Key by skimming
for new vocabulary words. The teacher
should use the sea turtle diagram on
the Sea Turtle Identification sheet to
give a step-by-step demonstration of
how to read the Sea Turtle Key. (Hint:
This diagram depicts a loggerhead sea

V The Activity

1. Ask each team of students to cut the
Turtle Picture Cards on the dotted lines.
They will work together to identify the
sea turtle species shown on each card.
Students should write the name of the
sea turtle on the front of each card. On
the back of each card, they should write
their choices at each level of the key.

2. As the teams complete their identification, give
them the Sea Turtle Characteristics sheet.
They should use this sheet and the Turtle Key
to decide if they correctly identified their turtle
cards. The teacher should review the correct
answers and discuss the use of the key. Was
the key easy to use? What caused the greatest
difficulty in using the key?

3. Combine students into six groups to give a
summary of the external anatomy of each of the
six sea turtle species found in the Caribbean.
Each group should describe to the class what
makes their turtle species unique. If their
turtle were found crawling on the beach, what
characteristics would they observe in order to
identify it quickly and correctly?

V Enrichment

1. Have the students write their own dichotomous
keys. They could write a dichotomous key
for their classmates, for pieces of fruit or for
a group of animals. They should choose
something simple and practice writing a
detailed and exact dichotomous key. Have
the students trade keys and talk about which
keys were most easily used.

2. Cut out copies of the Turtle Cards and tape
one to each student's shirt. Have the students
approach each other and try to identify the turtle
on each other's shirts as quickly as possible.
Which species is the easiest to consistently
identify and why?


I aodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Turtle Identification

Prefrontal Scales:
Scales located between
the eyes

Lateral Scutes:
Scutes located on either
side of the vertebral scutes

Marginal Scutes:
Outermost scutes, they

enclose the lateral and
vertebral scutes

lateral scutes

Top or dorsal part of the
turtle's shell

Inframarginal Scutes:
Scutes located between
the marginal scutes of the
carapace and the plastron;
they connect the plastron
to the carapace

Referring to the entire
underside of an animal

Bottom or ventral part of
the turtle's shell


Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Turtle Key

You can use this key to identify the six Sea Turtle Picture Cards.
You can also use this key to identify dead turtles you find at the beach.
Remember not to disturb a nesting turtle!

1A. Carapacewith five raised ridges extending the
length of the leathery "shell"; no carapace scutes ..........Leatherback

lB. Carapace scutes present................................................. Go to 2

2A. Five vertebral and four lateral scutes.............................Go to 3

2B. Five vertebral and five lateral scutes..............................Go to 4

3A. One pair of prefrontal scales.......................................... Green

3B. Two pairs of prefrontal scales........................................Hawksbill

4A. Three inframarginal scutes; head very wide................. Loggerhead

4B. Four inframarginal scutes; carapace nearly as
w ide as it is long............................................................ G o to 5

5A. Five pairs of lateral scutes............................................ Kemp's Ridley

5B. Six or more pairs of lateral scutes................................Olive Ridley

Sea Turtle Characteristics

After you have identified the sea turtles, write their names in the blanks.
Species A
two pair prefrontal scales
carapace scutes overlap each other
four pairs of lateral scutes
two claws on each front flipper
habitat- tropical, worldwide
distinct "overbite" in jaw
Species B
carapace with five longitudinal ridges
no scutes on head or carapace
"soft" carapace black with light spots
largest reptile in the world-weighs 500kg or more
feeds mainly on jellyfish, including Portuguese man-o-war
habitat tropical, temperate, and subarctic
Species C
more than one pair of prefrontal scales between the eyes
carapace often encrusted with barnacles
three inframarginal scutes
five pairs of lateral scutes
very large head, strong crushing jaws
habitat tropical to temperate
Species D
one pair of prefrontal scales
one claw on each front flipper
large-may weigh 300kg or more
four pairs of lateral scutes
only sea turtle with tiny tooth-like projections on edge of lower jaw
habitat tropical, worldwide
Species E
carapace grayish, nearly as wide as it is long
five pairs of lateral scutes
four inframarginal scutes that have small pores at their base
more than one pair of prefrontal scales
small for a sea turtle, up to 50kg
nests in large groups, often during the daytime
habitat tropical, temperate
Species F
six or more pairs of lateral scutes
four pairs of inframarginal scutes that have small pores at their base
omnivorous, eating shrimp, jellyfish, crabs, snails, fish, algae, and sea grasses
nests in large groups, often during the daytime
habitat tropical

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Sea Turtle Characteristics (Answers)

Species A

Species B

Species C

Species D

Species E

Species F

Hawksbill sea turtle

Leatherback sea turtle

Loggerhead sea turtle

Green sea turtle

Kemp's Ridley sea turtle

Olive Ridley sea turtle

I ~ ~ ~ ~ u Haol an*cet(05 A dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

Sea Turtle Picture Cards


r -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

m- m -m -m -m m -m m -m m -m -m -m -

Harold ~ u an Ecet(05*n dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

Sea Turtle Picture Cards

r i ii ii ii ii i

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I ~ ~ ~ ~ u Haol an*cet(05 A dctrsHnbooBIEATTcnclRpr

Sea Turtle Picture Cards

IE ---- -----

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i ii i -Harold and Ekr I05 An. Eu-- H o.T al Rep t 3

Trade in Sea Turtles

*Preparation Time.
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*Activity Time:
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V Summary
Students will discover the impact
of trade in endangered species,
learn laws controlling international
trade, and will study data from the
Caribbean in order to form an opinion
about trade in sea turtles.

V Objectives

Students will:
Learn the impact of trade on
sea turtles.
Find out what trade goes on in
the Caribbean.
Form an opinion about trade
in sea turtle products.

V Why Is It Important?

The world's wildlife resources are
important to all people, providing us
with food, medicines, clothing and
other products. Many of the products
we use in the developed world are
actually derived from wild animals
and plants whether it is fish served
in a restaurant, drugs derived from
medicinal plants, or furniture made
from timber extracted from the rain-

There is no doubt that over-
exploitation of wildlife is closely
linked to and plays an important
part in species depletion and even
extinction. The over-harvesting,
unsustainable use, and illegal trade
of some species is threatening not only
their continued survival but also the
survival of ecosystems, communities
and local economies that depend upon
these species for food, medicine and
ecological services.

V Background

The global wildlife trade is huge, with
annual profits estimated at billions
of dollars and involving hundreds
of millions of individual plants and

Laws that regulate the use of wild
plants and animals are usually
specific to one country and are
enforced in that country only. But
some laws apply internationally
and we call these laws "treaties" or

The Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) came into
force in 1975 and over 150 countries
have signed it, thereby promising to
abide by its rules. The treaty was
established to protect endangered
species from over-exploitation by
means of a system of import and
export permits.

CITES protects more than 30,000
plant and animal species, including
all species of sea turtle. The member
countries act together to control
international trade in sea turtles
and other endangered plants and
animals. These species are divided
into three "appendices", Appendix 1
lists the most critically endangered.
For this reason, species listed on
Appendix 1 are prohibited from
entering into international trade.

In the case of sea turtles, it is
often not the entire animal being
traded. For example, the scutes
(the colourful plates, often called
"tortoiseshell") that cover a hawksbill
sea turtle's shell are widely valued
for their beauty and are crafted into
jewelry and ornaments. Japanese
imports of these scutes between
1970 and 1989 totaled 713,850 kg,


Harold a ErtS., (205 i E t Handbook Ilp Tehinl R o 3 1

representing more than 670,000 turtles,
with more than half (368,318 kg) originating
from the Caribbean and Latin America.
Customs data show that in 1988 alone,
Japan imported tortoiseshell from nearly
12,000 adult hawksbills, all killed and
exported from the Caribbean Sea. In total,
during the period 1970 to June 1989, more
than a quarter-million Caribbean hawksbills
were killed for the shell trade with Japan.
Other countries participated in this trade, as
well, so these figures represent only part of
the trade volume. (Note: Japan ended its
hawksbill trade by formally withdrawing, in
1994, the "reservation" it held under CITES
that allowed Japan to continue to trade in
the Appendix I listed hawksbill turtle.)

CITES allows tradewhen the proper permits
are legally obtained, and only when it can
be shown that trade will not endanger the
animal. At the end of this activity you will
find data on the legal trade in sea turtles
and sea turtle products in the Caribbean.
The illegal trade in these species is still
common in some places but of course no
official records of it exists.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Pass out copies of the Reported Trade
in Caribbean Sea Turtles data and
copies of the interpretation key. These
are reported trades for which import
permits were obtained. Have students
look over the listings of legal trade in
sea turtles and answer the following
Which species is most commonly
Which countries are usually the
The exporters?

V The Activity

1. Pass out copies of the International
Trade Worksheet. Have the students
work in groups to complete the

2. Have the groups prepare a short report to
share with the class on their question.

V Enrichment

1. Have each student complete all of the
group questions on the worksheet.

2. Discuss with the class how the hawksbill
trade takes place. Who is involved?
(Hint: Consider the fisherman, the
buyer/ "middleman", the exporter, the
government officers who grant the import
and export permits, the importer, the
artisan in Japan, the final consumer of
the jewelry, etc.) Who makes the most
money? The least?

3. Divide the class into small groups. Ask
them to discuss what information
a fisheries manager would need to
determine whether the continued killing
of hawksbills was sustainable over
time. What happens to local hawksbill
populations if the commercial harvest
is sustainable? What happens if it's

Sea Turtle Trade Worksheet

Use the Trade Data to answer the following
questions. Use the interpretation key to un-
derstand the data, and wait for your teacher to
assign questions to your group.

1. In 1973 Japan began stockpiling bekko,
concerned that it would become illegal to
trade it once the CITES treaty came into
force. Find evidence of the stockpiling

2. 1 ton = 907 kg. After 1979, Japan restrict-
ed its imports to 30 tons per year. How
many kg is that?

3. If the Caribbean provided 50% of Japan's
bekko in 1979, how many kg of bekko did
the Caribbean export to Japan in 1979?
How many turtles is this?

4. What explanations can you give for the
generally decreasing amount of bekko
exported to Japan from Panama between
1970 and 1979?

5. Using 1.3 kilogram of bekko per turtle,
how many hawksbills were killed in Cuba
for trade to Japan in 1976?

6. In 1974, the Caribbean provided what percent of
the world's bekko to Japan? Using the number of
kg and the percentage, find out how many kg Japan
imported that year from around the world.

7. Calculate the total kg of bekko imported from
Nicaragua over the 10 years sampled. How many
turtles does that represent?

8. Which countries exported the largest amount of
bekko between 1970-1979?

9. Can you list a Caribbean country that did not trade
bekko with Japan in this time period?

Harold an Ekr (205 An Educatr's H WI ECS| Technical Rpr 3.. 1

Interpretation Key for Trade Data


Eretmochelys imbricata

hawksbill sea turtle


All quantities listed are in kilograms (kg).


Bekko is raw unworked hawksbill shell, also called tortoiseshell.

Turtle conversion rate

It is estimated that a single Caribbean hawksbill turtle provides approximately 1.3 kg of bekko.

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Trade Data

Japanese Imports of

Bekko 1970-1979 from the Caribbean

Country 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 Total
Panama 10,744 11,981 8,389 8,990 9,350 9,313 5,885 4,450 6,505 4,810
Cuba 5,435 5,946 5,100 8,100 6,245 6,100 6,975 3,984 6,600 3,725
Caymans 0 0 78 936 963 1,083 3,096 3,863 6,321 6,110__
Haiti 1,415 1,415 1,303 2,390 678 831 1,094 1,173 959 1,689
Nicaragua 798 1,060 1,316 994 2,646 1,632 1,446 1,573 1,014 949
Jamaica 600 943 1,852 2,521 222 286 343 683 128 559
Honduras 0 0 0 316 0 38 0 71 9 9
Bahamas 127 109 1,474 580 218 449 532 922 1,018 1,886
Belize 97 82 0 28 276 0 12 40 0 314
Dominican 0 0 62 4 11 31 113 507 0 219
Republic _____
Puerto Rico 974 700 498 341 45 165 262 264 0 18
St. Lucia 0 0 0 345 288 332 0 489 349 152
Costa Rica 360 189 387 265 175 515 170 260 47 89
St. Vincent 0 0 0 243 250 191 130 230 144 0
Barbados 398 338 337 344 310 31 13 0 23 0
French W. 266 0 0 0 0 122 152 198 276 123
Trinidad & 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dominica 0 0 0 6 0 0 126 0 0 114
Antigua & 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Grenada 0 0 0 499 0 132 0 59 0 0
Turks & 149 85 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Venezuela 0 0 0 171 0 0 0 0 0 0
Colombia 0 26 0 37 58 45 0 0 0 0
Mexico 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 21,476 22,874 20,796 27,118 21,735 21,296 20,349 18,766 23,393 20,766
% of world- 58.1 64.3 49.8 37 63.5 59.1 49.2 42.9 57.7 32.7
wide total
Source: Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987

I Harold and Ee S(2 An Educato Handbo.o .ID] AST T Report 3


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V Summary
Students use turtle tracking data
to calculate the range, speed and
direction of the animal's migrations.

V Objectives

Students will:
Know the names and locations
of five Caribbean countries and
cities within those countries.
List two methods used to tag
Correctly identify longitudes
and latitudes on a map.
Calculate distances using a
map scale.

V Why Is It Important?

To develop better resource
management plans, we need to
know as much about a sea turtle's life
history as possible. Since sea turtles
spend virtually all their lives in the
ocean, they are very hard to observe
and study directly. One method used
to obtain information on sea turtle
population numbers and their range
is by tagging. If another researcher
finds a tagged turtle, he or she will
report the information on the tag.
The data collected on each turtle can
be used to determine how far that
particular turtle traveled, how long it
took, and sometimes the condition of
the turtle during its travels. Modern
technologies, including satellites, can
also tell us swim speed, dive depth
and other behavioral data.

V Background

All species have a natural range.
Range is defined as the area in the

Turtle Tracking

world where a particular plant or animal
is normally found. For example, the
range of the hawksbill turtle includes
tropical waters worldwide. Hawksbill
sea turtles may travel 20 40km per
day during migration, but they normally
stay within their "tropical" range.
Leatherback sea turtles, on the other
hand, range from tropical to subarctic
waters and migrate many thousands
of kilometers between feeding and
nesting grounds.

Historically, tagging has been the single-
most valuable activity in advancing
our understanding of sea turtles and
their conservation needs in relation
to complex life cycles, migrations,
and growth rates. In many cases, a
commitment to years of systematic
tagging may be necessary to achieve
certain objectives. However, in some
instances the tagging of even a few
turtles, particularly at nesting beaches
where tagging has never been
conducted, can yield valuable insight
into migrations and the locations of
non-nesting feeding areas.

Turtles may be tagged several ways.
Many researchers attach a metal tag
to the front or rear flipper. Turtles may
also be tagged using internal tags
which are injected under the skin using
a special needle. These tags are then
read with an electronic "scanner";
each tag has a unique number. These
internal tags, called Passive Integrated
Transponder or PIT tags, are not lost
as frequently as the metal flipper
tags. Turtles may also be identified by
natural characteristics, like injuries or
barnacle patterns on the carapace. In
these cases photographs are taken in
order to identify the turtle later.

Researchers can also attach a tracking
device to the turtle. A satellite tracking
device sends a great deal of information
to a special satellite in orbit around the
Earth, and the researcher can then
retrieve that information. Satellite

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

tracking provides excellent data, but is very

In the following activity you will analyze
data collected from a hawksbill sea turtle
satellite-tagged in Antigua. You will explore
sea turtle migration routes and discover
why it is so difficult to protect and manage
sea turtles.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Pass out copies of the Background
Information as a reading assignment or
read it aloud in class.

2. Pass out copies of the turtle tracking
map. Have the students locate where
they live on the map. The numbers
shown on the map are north latitude
(numbers along the side) and west
longitude (numbers along the top).
Notice the scale bar at the bottom of
the map. Have the students find the
latitude and longitude of their home.
Next, have them pick another location
and calculate the distance between the
two sites using a ruler and a calculator
if necessary.

V The Activity

1. Pass out copies of the Statistics Card.

2. Review the concepts of latitude and
longitude, if necessary:

Latitude refers to the lines that run
horizontally across maps or globes.
Latitude is measured in degrees from
the equator. All latitude lines above the
equator are north latitudes.

Longitude refers to the lines that run
vertically on a map or globe. Longitude
is measured in degrees from Greenwich,
England. The longitude lines west of
Greenwich are west longitudes.

3. To practice using the map, perform the
following example with the students.

A turtle was recorded at the following
coordinates: 14 degrees north latitude
and 62 degrees west longitude. First
locate where these two coordinates
meet (just west of the island of St.
Lucia). Mark this point on the map
with a pencil. The next coordinate is
16 degrees north, 65 degrees west.
Mark this point on the map. Calculate
the distance and direction of the turtle's
movement, assuming the turtle swims
swam a straight line.

4. Distribute the Sea Turtle Worksheet.
The students can work individually or in
teams to answer the questions on the

V Enrichment

1. Request information on 10 to 15 sea
turtles that have been tagged. Be sure
to get information on different species.
You will need to login to access the data,
this is a free service. The address is:
teachers/data.shtml, Repeat the Warm
Up procedure with other turtle data.

2. Emphasize creative writing by asking the
students to make a journal about one of
the turtle's travels, first from the turtle's
point of view and then from a human's
point of view, from a boat following the

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Harold an E eti (2005) An Educato' Handb.oo ID] Technical Rt 3 1

Sea Turtle Statistics Card

Species: Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata

Sex: Female

Date Tagged: August 16, 2003

Location Tagged: 17.1N -61.7W

Tag Number: NNW 2349

Method Used To Tag: satellite transmitter

Carapace Length: 87cm Carapace Width: 60cm

Locations Since Tagging:

Date Location

August 16, 2003 (nesting location) 17.1 N -61.7 W

August 18, 2003 16.7 N -61.5W

August 21, 2003 16.3 N -62.1W

August 28, 2003 14.1N -62.6W

September 5, 2003 13.4N -60.7W

September 14, 2003 11.ON -60.4W

Sea Turtle Tracking Worksheet

Use the Sea Turtle Tracking Chart and Sea Turtle
Statistics Card to answer the questions below.

1. What were the latitude and longitude where the
turtle nested on August 16, 2003?

Mark this point on the tracking map.

2. Find the turtle's latitude and longitude on August
18. Circle this point on your chart. How many
nautical miles did the turtle travel from its last
known point? (Assume the turtle swam in a
straight line.)

3. What city is just west of the turtle on the 18th?

4. Find the turtle's latitude and longitude on August
21st. Circle this point on your chart. How many
nautical miles did the turtle travel from its last
known point?

5. What is the name of the island that is east of the
turtle's location on the 21st?

6. Find the turtle's latitude and longitude on August
28th. Circle this point on your chart. How many
nautical miles did the turtle travel from its last
known point?

7. Find the turtle's latitude and longitude on
September 5th. Circle this point on your chart.
How far did the turtle travel from its last
known point?

8. What is the name of the island that is southeast
of the turtle's location on the 5th?

9. Find the turtle's latitude and longitude on
September 14th. Circle this point on your
chart. How far did the turtle travel from its last
known point?

10. What is the name of the island that is just east
of the turtle's location on the 14th?

Harold ani Ekr (i005 An. Ech Repor 3 1

11. How many nautical miles did the turtle
travel from the time it was tagged to the
last known location on September 14,

12. How many nautical miles per day did the
turtle travel from the time it was tagged
to the 14th?

13. If the turtle were recorded at Puerto Rico,
what would be the latitude and longitude?

14. What is the name of the island just west
of Puerto Rico?

15. On September 21, 2003 this turtle was
caught in a fishing net in Barbados.
Circle this point on your chart. How
many nautical miles did the turtle travel
from its last known point (in a straight

Bonus Question:

Convert all nautical miles answers to kilometers.
(there are 1.85 km in each nautical mile.)

Question #2

Question #4

Question #6

Question #7

Question #9

Question #11

Question #12

Question #15

I Harold ....and k An Et Ino WIDEAS i Report 3

A Leatherback's International Journey

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V Summary
Students use leatherback tracking
data to explore the international
nature of these animals and the
threats they face due to migrations.

V Objectives:
Students will:
Learn about leatherback
Learn the differences in laws
between different countries.

V Why Is It Important?

Unlike most of thewildlifewe encounter,
sea turtles almost never "belong" to a
single nation. We protect (or hunt) sea
turtles in our own country and then they
feed or nest in another country, under
different laws. This is particularly true
in the Caribbean region where the
boundaries of more than 40 nations and
territories come into close contact with
each other. This is why cooperation is
the best way to effectively manage our
marine resources!

V Background

The sea is a special environment where
links established by currents, species
and migrations can extend thousands
of kilometers. Consequently, marine
conservation issues, especially those
relating to far-ranging species such as
sea turtles, must be addressed at a
multinational level.

If a species travels widely among
many different nations' waters, then
conservation effort in one country may
be compromised due to activities (such
as harvest) in a neighboring country.
Therefore, successful management
programs must rise above political

boundaries! When countries share
a common marine resource, they
also share the common challenge of
conserving that resource.

Several international agreements
exist that relate to the international
management and use of sea
turtles. You have already learned
about CITES, which regulates
inter-national trade in endangered
species. Of special importance in
our region is UNEP's Caribbean
Environment Programme (CEP). The
CEP provides valuable assistance
to all Caribbean governments in
implementing the "Convention on
the Protection and Development of
the Marine Environment in the Wider
Caribbean Region". This treaty
strongly encourages collaboration
among member nations. For more
information, visit www.cep.unep.org.

The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle
Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
is an international scientific network
comprised of volunteer Country
Coordinators (sea turtle experts,
natural resource professionals, and
community-based conservationists),
an international Board of Scientific
Advisors, and Partner Organizations
in more than 40 Caribbean States and
territories. Each Coordinator works
closely with a national coalition of
stakeholders to ensure that everyone
has access to the dialogue, as well as
to the unique products and services of
the network. WIDECAST is a partner
organization of the CEP, helping to
ensure that the biology of sea turtles is
taken into account during international

Leatherbacks travel the greatest
distances of all the sea turtles. Not
only does a leatherback cross through
many countries' EEZs in the Caribbean
during its migration, it often visits
Canada and the countries of Africa as


Harold ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o big wouldt the05 EEZ Educator' bedbo ifS Tehita wasrt3

Each country is surrounded by a Territorial Sea
which extends about 20 kilometers, or 12 nautical
miles offshore.

Each country also has an Exclusive Economic
Zone (EEZ) extending to 200 nautical miles
(around 320km) offshore. For most countries in
the Caribbean Region, the EEZ does not extend
200 nm because it soon joins the border of the
EEZ of another country. The map below shows
that in most cases a line is drawn halfway between
two countries' territorial sea boundary.

Laws of a country apply within the EEZ. Any
resources found in the EEZ of a country, including
fish and animals, may be exploited and must be
managed by that country. Landlocked nations
have no EEZs and therefore no rights to coastal
ocean resources (unless they negotiate these
rights with a friendly maritime country).

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Pass out the Background Information as a
reading assignment or read it aloud in class.

2. Give a copy of the Tracking Map to each

3. Have students use the map scale on their
tracking maps to estimate 12 nautical miles
and trace the Territorial Sea of his/her country.

How big would the EEZ (200nm) be if it was
not restricted by other countries' EEZs?

V The Activity

1. Pass out copies of the Sea Turtle Statistics
Card with information about a leatherback's
locations and copies of the Table of Laws.

2. Have the students plot the journey of the
leatherback from beginning to end. Make sure
that each point is labeled with the date.

3. Review the table of protections for sea turtles
in different countries in the Caribbean. Did the
turtle pass through any waters where it was
protected? Did the turtle pass through waters
where it could have been hunted?

4. Where did the turtle nest? Was it protected
at its nesting beach? Have the students color
the protected portions of the turtle's track black
and the unprotected parts of the journey red.

V Enrichment

1. Have the students form small groups and
come up with several ideas to help Caribbean
countries coordinate effectively in terms of sea
turtle management.

2. Have the groups represent different countries
and draft an international "agreement" allowing
the safe passage of sea turtles through
territorial waters.

Are Eggs or Adult Turtles Protected Here?
Laws change constantly and some countries may have revised their sea turtle regulations since this table was created.

Are all Turtles Protected?
Eggs Caretta Eretmochelys Chelonia Dermochelys
Country Protected? caretta imhricata mvydas coriacea
&Barbuda YES NO* NO* NO* NO*
Bahamas YES NO* YES NO* not specified
British Virgin YES NO* NO* NO* NO*
Cayman Islands YES NO* NO* NO* not specified
Colombia I I YES I I
Grenada YES NO* NO* NO* YES
Haiti YES NO NO NO not specified
Honduras I I I I I
Montserrat YES NO* NO* NO* NO*
Nicaragua I YES YES I YES
St. Kitts & YES NO* NO* NO* NO*
StVYcent ES NO* NO* NO* NO*
Trinidad &
Trinidad & YES NO* NO* NO* NO*
Turks & Caicos YES NO* NO* NO* NO*

Indigenous and/or subsistence take only
Only juveniles are protected
Eggs are collected only in the village of Ostional

(Pacific Coast).

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr


Turtle Statistics Card

Species: Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea

Sex: Female

Date Tagged: June 10, 2003

Location of Nes

Tag Number:

At: 10.1N -61.3W


Method Used To Tag:

Carapace Length: 1

satellite transmitter


Locations Since Tagging:



June 10, 2003

June 18, 2003

June 21, 2003

June 28, 2003

July 5, 2003

July 14, 2003

(Nesting location)

Carapace Width:


10.1 N

11.3 N

12.2 N

17.7 N

18.1 N

23.6 N

-61.3 W

-64.1 W

-62.1 W

-65.8 W

-74.5 W

-76.3 W

HaodadEkrt(05 nEuatrsHnbo IDCS ehia Rport3.

International Tracking Worksheet

Begin by plotting the leatherback's journey on the tracking map using the Sea Turtle Statistics
card. Remember that the turtle was tagged when she nested.

Answer the following questions:

1. In which country did the turtle nest? Are those eggs protected by law in that country?

2. Is the female turtle protected by law in the country where she nested?

3. List the countries the turtle passed through on its journey where it could have been hunted.

4. List the countries that the turtle passed through on its journey where it was protected.

5. Is the leatherback sea turtle protected in more or fewer countries than the green sea turtle?

6. Use a colored marker to color the dangerous parts of the turtle's journey.

7. Even in EEZ's where leatherbacks are protected, list three things that might kill the migrating

.1 -----------------Se a-

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I H d (20 ) .. AE co H WI]E.AST Technical Repor 3

Unit 3 References

American Forest Foundation.2003. Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education PreK-8
Activity Guide. Bozeman, MT.

Anon. 2003. Project Wet Curriculum and Activity Guide. The Watercourse, MT.

Bland, S. 2001. Sea Turtle Trek. Hammocks Beach State Park. Swansboro, NC.

Canin, J. 1989. International trade in sea turtle products, p.27-29. In: Proc. 9th Annual Workshop on Sea
Turtle Conservation and Biology (SA Eckert, KL Eckert, and TH Richardson, Compilers). NOAA
Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232. Miami, Florida. URL: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/readingrm/

Cohen, J. M. (ed). 1969. Christopher Columbus: The Four Voyages. Penguin Books Ltd. London,

Evans, D. and D. Godfrey (eds). 1999. Sea Turtle and Coastal Habitat Education Program: An
Educators Guide. Caribbean Conservation Corporation. Gainesville, FL.

Fuson, R. 1987. The Log of Christopher Columbus. International Marine Publishing. Camden, ME.

Gulko, D. A. and K. L. Eckert. 2003. Sea Turtles: An Ecological Guide. Mutual Publishing,
Honolulu, HI.

Hodge, K. V. D., R. Connor, and G. Brooks. 2003. Anguilla Sea Turtle Educator's Guide, The Anguilla
National Trust, Anguilla, British West Indies.

Jackson, J. 1997. Reefs Since Columbus. Coral Reefs 16, Suppl.:S23-S22

Milliken, T. and H. Tokunaga. 1987. The Japanese Sea Turtle Trade 1970-1986. Prepared by TRAFFIC
(JAPAN) for the Center for Environ. Education, Washington D.C. 171 pp.

Parsons, J. 1962. The Green Turtle and Man. University of Florida Press. Gainesville, FL.

TRAFFIC. 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2004 from TRAFFIC web site. www.traffic.org

Trono, R. and R. Salm. 1999. "Regional Collaboration". In: K. L. Eckert, K. A. Bjorndal, F. A. Abreu-
Grobois, and M. Donnelly (eds), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of
Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No. 4. Washington D.C.

Van Meter, V. 1992. Florida's Sea Turtles. Florida Power and Light Company. Miami, FL.

Unit 4

I aodadEcet(05 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr

Why is Biodiversity Important?

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V Summary
Look at the roles that different
plants and animals have in
marine ecosystems by building a

V Objectives

Students will:
Show what a food web is.
Show that biodiversity helps
create ecosystem stability.
Identify human actions that can
have effects on ecosystems.
Show the interconnectedness
of biotic and abiotic factors in
an ecosystem.

V Why Is It Important?
The natural environment is the source
of all our resources for life providing
us with air to breathe, water to drink
and food to eat, as well as materials
to use in our daily lives (petroleum
for fuel; fertilizer; silicon for computer
chips) and natural beauty to enjoy.

Complex ecosystems with a wide
variety of plants and animals tend
to be more stable. A highly diverse
ecosystem is often a sign of a healthy
ecosystem. Some might argue that
species have become extinct with no
effect on the environment, but the
Earth's systems are so complex that we
are still learning about environmental
processes and the roles species play.

Preservation of biodiversity is
not necessarily about preserving
everything currently in existence. It's
more a question of 'walking lightly' on
the Earth a balance of respecting
the natural changes that occur and of
protecting species and environments
from human-caused destruction and

V Background

The word 'biodiversity' is a
combination of two words: biological
and diversity. It refers to the variety of
life on Earth. Biodiversity includes all
the living things that exist in the air, on
land or in water: plants, humans and
other animals, microorganisms, fungi.
The area considered may be as small
as your backyard or as big as our
whole planet.
Animals and plants don't exist
in isolation. All living things are
connected to other living things and
to their non-living environment (such
as rocks and rivers). If one tiny
species in an ecosystem becomes
extinct, we may not notice or think
it's important. But the biodiversity of
that ecosystem will be altered, and
in fact all of the ecosystems that the
species belonged to will be affected.

There are two elements or "factors"
that make up an ecosystem. The
plants, animals, fungi and other living
things make up the biotic or "living"
factors. The rocks, minerals, soil,
air, and water make up the abiotic
or "non-living" factors. The biotic
factors in an ecosystem cannot
survive without the abiotic factors.
They are connected. What would a
fish do without water, or a tree without
sunlight and soil? What would
humans do without oxygen?

An ecosystem has many "layers".
Abiotic factors make up the base
of the ecosystem. Next are the
producers. Producers are organisms,
so they are a biotic factor. They are
special because they make their
own food from sunlight and carbon
dioxide. Plants and trees on land
are all producers. In the ocean most
producers are tiny plants known as


HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Next up the food chain are the consumers.
Consumers cannot make their own
food and must get it from eating other
organisms. When a green sea turtle feeds
on seagrass, it is acting as a consumer.
The grass is the producer. Food webs
are a good way to visualize biodiversity.
Think of a food "web" as the sum of many
inter-related food chains. You will make a
food web in this activity.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

V The Activity

1. Food Web: Cut out the Food Web Tags
and give one to each student. If there
are too many, leave some tags out. If
there are not enough, make a second
copy. If the group is large, consider
dividing the class in two and doing two
food webs. Have each student attach
the tag to his/her shirt and have the
students stand in a circle.

First give the ball of string to a
producer (seagrass, green algae, or
phytoplankton). Have the student hold
the end of the string and pass the ball
on to an organism that is a predator or
prey for him/her. The seagrass might
pass the ball to a sea turtle. The sea
turtle would then hold on to the string
and pass the ball to a tiger shark
(predator) or sponge (prey). Have the
students continue until everyone has
hold of the string, or until there are no
more connections. This is a food web.
See how it looks like a spider's web?

Now have
what would

drop his/her piece of string. The plants
and animals connected to the turtles in the
food web might disappear, too. Then the
connections to all of the dropped strings
will have to drop the string as well. Have
this continue until all the students have had
to drop the string.

2. Biodiversity: Divide the class up into
teams of four. Pass out a collection (10-
20) of colored sticks or straws (you can use
almost any stick and color one end with a
marker) to each team. Ideally you should
have 4 colors. One color will represent the
abiotic factors, and will be a rock. Another
color will represent producers, and will be
seagrass. A third color will represent a
primary consumer, and will be a sea turtle.
The fourth color will be the secondary
consumers, and will be a tiger shark.

Drop the sticks into a pile. Try to remove
the sticks one by one. Each person can
have a try. They must take their stick
without moving or shaking the pile. If the
other sticks move, they lose their turn.

Try it with half as many sticks. Is this more or
less stable? Is it easier or harder to remove
sticks? Is this true in an ecosystem? Do
more connections mean more stability?

Was it easy or even possible to remove
seagrass from the pile without disturbing
the other factors? How is this like a real
ecosystem? Are the factors dependent
on each other? What is an example of
something humans do that might upset
your ecosystem?

the students imagine
happen if sea turtles
Have the sea turtle

Harold ; and Eckr (2 ) A/_~!-- MnEducator's Handbook Technic.;l Repo 3S1

Food Web Tags
Use the food web diagram on the following page to help construct the food web.



Sea turtle

Tiger shark


Coral (A producer and consumer)



Sea Anemone



Green algae


Sunlight + Carbon
Dioxide gas

"aol and Ekti (2005) E iuat Hanbook. ID] Technical Rt 3 1

Sample Food Web



Parrotfish Sea Anemone


Green Algae





Phytoplankton Seagrass

Sunlight and Carbon
Dioxide (CO2)

I Haol I~ig nd _krt ., An E IDE -AST Technic Rpor 3 1

Fishy Problems

V Summary
Students will gain a greater
understanding of the problems facing
ocean habitats and coastal people by
calculating the answers to fisheries

V Objectives

Students will:
List 3 human-caused threats to
the ocean.
Identify 3 ocean organisms that
are affected by fisheries.
Discuss the impact of over-
fishing on the oceans.

V Why Is It Important?

Close to half of the world's fisheries
are in a state of collapse. Most of the
ocean's commercially important fish
are in danger of extinction and the
causes are largely man-made. The
solution cannot be to put fishermen out
of business, but other solutions must
be found if the world's fishermen are
to have anything to fish 100 years from
now. The first step towards a solution
is for each citizen of the planet to
understand the problem we face. This
activity is designed not only to exercise
important math and reading skills, but
to give each student an idea of the
crisis in the oceans.

V Background

Bottom trawls are large nets which
are used to catch fish and crustacean
species. Commercial bottom trawls
are one of the most destructive
fishing gear types because they
directly threaten species richness and
biodiversity, and they catch a variety
of non-target species. Non-target
species, or bycatch, are typically

discarded overboard, often either
dead or dying. In some fisheries
the bycatch can be large, with
several kilos of bycatch caught
and discarded back into the water
for every 1 kilo of target species.
Trawls often kill sea turtles, whales
and dolphins who are caught in the
nets and unable to get free. Bottom
trawls can also cause severe
habitat damage, including deep sea
corals and sponges.

Longline fishing consists of baited
hooks on lines up to 80 miles long.
Each longline can be baited with
several thousand hooks at a time.
These may catch swordfish, tuna
and sharks, as well as non-target
birds and turtles.

Other destructive fishing practices
include using sodium cyanide which
is applied to coral reef crevices where
fish hide. Although the practice has
been outlawed in most countries,
and many importers refuse cyanide-
tainted fish, widespread use of
cyanide continues. In some parts
of the Caribbean Sea, fishermen
still illegally use chlorine bleach to
stun and capture fish or lobster.

Blast fishing catches food fish
in a flash, but it's dangerous to
fishermen, devastating to fishes
and coral reefs, and even though
prohibited in most countries, still
used on coral reefs in Asia, Africa,
the South Pacific, and even the
Caribbean. A single blast can
destroy thousands of years of coral
growth and kill many species that
are not used or brought to market.


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HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background
Information to each student. Have the
students read the information or read it
aloud in class.

2. Discuss fishing in your area. What kinds
of fishing do you see? How many students
have family members that fish? How
important is fish to the students' diets?
Are fish becoming more scarce? More

V The Activity

1. Copy and distribute the Fisheries Problems
page and have students in pairs match the
fishery to the effect.

2. Copy and distribute the Fisheries Worksheet
and have the students work in pairs or small
groups to complete the problems.

3. Have students work in teams of 3-4 to come up
with solutions for the capture and drowning of
sea turtles in the different fisheries. Assign a
fishery to each team and ask them to come up
with different solutions, for example: changes
in laws, changes in fishing gear or technique,
changes in education, changes in the way we
eat fish, etc.

V Enrichment

1. Ask students to consider the following
Fisheries Solutions: marine protected areas,
fish size limits, fishing gear restrictions, fishing
seasons and public awareness. Ask them
to briefly define their solution and discuss
the impacts it would have on fisheries, local
livelihoods, and possible sea turtle bycatch.

Mary Beath in Jacobs (2003)

Fisheries Worksheet
Answer the following questions on a sheet of paper.

1kg = 2.2 pounds
1 metric ton = 2,204.6 pounds
1km = .621 miles
1 mile = 5,280 feet

1. The world's oceans are fished by over one million large fishing ships and two million smaller ones.
Around the world, 12.5 million people make their living catching fish, and another 150 million people
are employed in on-shore operations or the processing of fish.

a) How many ships fish the world's oceans?

b) For every single fishing boat, how many people are needed, on average to catch fish?

c) For every singe fishing boat, how many people are needed, on average to handle on-shore
processing and operations?

2. Almost all tuna stocks worldwide are in peril from overfishing, with the Atlantic bluefin tuna declining
90% in the last 2 decades, from 225,000 in 1970 to only in 1990.

3. If one year, shrimpers off the southern coast of the United States caught 48,000 endangered sea
turtles, and it is estimated that one quarter of these are killed in shrimp nets, how many turtles were
killed in shrimp nets during this year?

4. In a coral reef area observers recorded 6 dynamite fishing explosions per hour, with an estimated
catch of 1800 kg of fish per day. Surveys indicated that more than half the corals in the area have
been decimated by blasting.

a) Assuming there are eight hours in the fishing day, how many dynamite explosions occurred in
one day?

b) How many kg of fish on the average would have been caught after each explosion?

c) How many pounds of fish would have been caught in one day?

d) How many pounds caught in one hour?

5. A coral reef was destroyed, which caused increased erosion of the beach and loss of sand. This
could have the disastrous effect of increasing the loss of life and property during storms, decreasing
income from tourism, and harming wildlife habitat. As a result, the government spent $12 million for
1km of seawall to secure the shore end and replace the destroyed reef.

a) How many feet long was the seawall?

b) What was the cost per foot to build it?

6. It is important to consider the economic value, both short term and long term, or environmental
conservation. However, often this is not done. For example, a logging concession was expected to

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

yield $13 million from cutting down the rainforest over a 10-year period. The resulting environmental
problems, such as erosion and siltation, would have severely damaged the down stream coral reefs
where fishing was done. If this happened, it was estimated that up to $75 million in fishing revenue
would have been lost. If this logging concession had been granted, what would have been the net
loss of revenue to the nation?

7. It is estimated that 1 square kilometer of coral reef in poor condition produces only 5 metric tons of
fish per year, just enough to feed 100 people. A healthy reef, however, can feed between 400 and
700 people per year.

a) How many metric tons of fish would be produced by a healthy reef?

b) How many pounds of fish would that equal?

8. At a conservative estimate, coral reef destruction has meant a loss of 37% in fish production each
year, or 150,000 metric tons.

a) If the coral reefs were healthy and fish production was at 100%, how many metric tons of fish
would be produced?

b) This 37% loss means that 3 million people now get no seafood protein, or 6 million people get
only half the protein they would otherwise have. How may pounds of fish does each of these
people now eat in a year?

Source: Coral Forest Teacher's Guide. Coral Forest, 400 Montgomery Street, Suite 1040, San Francisco, California
94104 Tel: (415)788-REEF Fax: (415)398-0385 e-mail: coral@igc.apc.org

Harold a E.c (205 i E t Handbook Ilp Technicl Rpr 3 1

Fisheries Worksheet Answer Key

a. 3 million
b. 4
c. 50

2 22,500

3 12,000

a. 48
b. 37.5kg
c. 3969 Ibs.
d. 496 Ibs.

a. 3279 ft.
b. $3,600/ft.

6 $62 million

a. between 20 and 35 metric tons
b. 3 million people eat 0 Ibs of fish, 6 million people eat 58.42 Ibs/person.

a. 405,405.4 metric tons
b. 110.23 pounds

Harol an Ecer (205 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDEATTcnclRpr



blast fishing

dead coral

commercial bottom trawling

turtle caught on line

coral rubble


HaodadEcet(05 An Edcto' Hanboo WIDETTcnclRpr

Coral Reef Community

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V Summary
Students will learn about corals
and coral reef communities, and
the important roles they play in the

V Objectives

Students will:
Show knowledge of coral
anatomy and structure.
List coral reef inhabitants and
identify their habitat.
Discuss the importance of the
coral reef to sea turtles.

V Why Is It Important?

Coral reefs are one of the most
important natural resource in the
Caribbean Sea. In general, people
are not aware of their tremendous
economic and ecological value and the
many ways in which they contribute to
the livelihoods of Caribbean people.
As an example, the thriving tourism
industrydepends on healthycoral reefs
for white sandy beaches, clear water,
diving and sport fishing. Similarly,
the region's nearshore and artisanal
fishers rely on healthy coral reefs as
nursery grounds for fish. About 70%
of the world's coral is either dead, or
threatened due to human activities
such as pollution, overfishing, boating
and sedimentation.

V Background
Many people do not realize that corals
are animals. They are soft-bodied and
easily damaged. The "rocks" we think
of when we think of corals, are really the
skeletons of these soft animals. Coral
reefs are among the most diverse and
productive communities on Earth. They


are mostly found in the warm, clear,
shallow waters of tropical oceans.
Reefs have functions ranging from
providing food and shelter to fish and
invertebrates to protecting the shore
from erosion. Through symbiosis with
simple algae called zooxanthellae,
reef-building corals are capable of
producing their own food just like plants!
Compounds produced by reef dwelling
organisms possess antimicrobial and
antiviral activity. These compounds
may be important sources for drugs
and medicines. In addition, revenue
from tourists attracted to the beauty of
coral reefs can be a significant source
of income for human communities in
these areas.

Reefs are formed by calcium carbonate
produced by tiny coral polyps.
While corals are the chief builders of
reef structure, they are not the only
ones. Some algae, tube worms and
molluscs donate their hard skeletons.
Together these organisms construct
many different types of reefs. Reefs
are important land builders in tropical
areas, forming islands and altering
shorelines. Barrier reefs like those
seen surrounding most islands in
the Caribbean are the island's main
protection in hurricanes.

A coral colony may consist of
thousands of polyps. Polyps are
typically carnivorous, feeding on small
particles floating in the water. However,
symbiotic algae living inside the tissue
of the polyps also provide important
sources of nutrition to corals. An entire
colony many meters in diameter can
start out as a single polyp. Many hard
corals can take hundreds of years
to grow, increasing only one or two
centimeters per year!

Because many coral reef organisms
can tolerate only a narrow range of
environmental conditions, reefs are
sensitivetodamagefrom environmental
changes. Corals are susceptible to

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

diseases and bleaching. Natural events such as
hurricanes can damage coral reefs. However,
most damage to reefs is human-caused, such as by
anchors, fish pots, plastic bags, and pollution.

Because corals depend on algae living inside the
bodies of the coral polyps, corals require clear, warm
water. The algae need light to produce food. When
waters become clouded by pollution, or become too
warm, the corals can bleach or die. When a coral
bleaches, the zooxanthellae (algae) actually leave
the polyp. This is why the coral loses its color and
appears an unnatural, bleached white.

Coral polyps are in the same family as jellyfish.
Imagine a tiny upside-down jellyfish and this is what
a coral polyp looks like. A coral colony may contain
many thousands of individual polyps. All of these
polyps share a stomach, so in some ways each coral
colony (or reef) is one large animal! Just like jellyfish,
some corals have stinging cells in their tentacles. If
you have ever touched a "fire coral", you know first
hand about the stinging ability of some corals. Each
coral polyp creates another layer of the skeleton out
of calcium carbonate; in this way, the coral colony
gets larger with each generation of polyps.

V Procedure

Warm Up
1. Copy and distribute the Background Information
to each student. Have the students read the
information or read it aloud in class.

V The Activity

Egg Carton Coral
1. Collect egg cartons, tape, paper, markers and
scissors. Divide the class into groups of three or
four. Each group should get an egg carton and 4
sheets of paper (colored paper is fun!).

2. Cut a sheet of paper into three strips horizontally.
Each strip will become a coral polyp. Roll each
strip into a tube about the diameter of your
finger. Tape the bottom of the tube to keep it
from unrolling. To make the tentacles of the
polyp, make several cuts from the top of the
tube, % of the way to the bottom of the tube. Get
the tentacles to curl by running the blade of the
scissors along the paper.

3. To make the coral colony, remove the top of
an egg carton, leaving only the section with
the 12 egg cups. Turn this upside down, and
poke a hole in each cup with the scissors.
Push the bottom of the polyp through one
of the holes, leaving the tentacles exposed.
Repeat this for all 12 cups.

4. Using markers you can add small dots on
the polyp to symbolize the zooxanthellae.
Zooxanthellae can have a variety of pigments
giving them different overall colors. It is the
zooxanthellae that give corals their color.

5. Have each group present their model to the
class, pointing out all of the parts of the coral
and the zooxanthellae. Where is the mouth?
Point out the colony, an individual polyp.
Where are the stinging cells?

The Coral Reef Community
6. Draw the basic outline of a coral reef (see
below) on the blackboard or on a large piece
of paper. Also write the three categories:
Carnivores, Herbivores, Omnivores. Have
students identify the beach, water, shallow
area, and reef. Distribute one Coral Card to
each student. Give them a few minutes to read
the card, and ask each student to approach
the drawing and write the name of their animal
under the correct category heading, and tape
the animal description in the correct habitat
on the drawing. Each student should present
his/her animal by reading the card to the class
and explaining the placement.

V Enrichment

1. Have the students create a model coral reef
community using the egg carton corals they
created, and the coral animals. They should
draw pictures of the animals they have on the
cards, and mount them on the wall behind the
model reef.

Harold and Ee ;; (2005) Au n Educator's H BI ECS| Technical *pr 3B1

Coral Reef Anatomy

The individual coral polyp is a hollow, cylindrical
animal. The mouth is surrounded by tentacles
armed with stinging cells for capturing plankton.
During the day these tentacles are folded in the
digestivee sac.
Microscopic single-celled algae (zooxanthellae)
that give the coral its green, blue or brown colour
are located in the tissue of the living coral. These
symbiotic algae process the wastes produced by
the polyps. They use the nitrates, phosphates and
carbon dioxide produced in the polyp. Through
r -' ... .- photosynthesis they generate oxygen and
.. '-- ,- .. '' organic compounds which the polyps themselves
can use. They may also help the polyp lay down
calcium carbonate.

In addition to their role as primary producers, the
other algae coating much of the reef's surfaces
also produce substantial amounts of calcium
carbonate. Algae are so important to reef life that
.- it has been suggested that "coral-algal reefs" is a

^^-4 LThe l1eeL are zoomanfhelae.
They are tiny plans that live in die
polyp and help it budld the reef.

food to the mouth]
N 'The inside of a polyp
is almost all stomacle
The poly p pill. ir,. nt iwo

"it Unestone cup fr safety.

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

Coral Cards

r F- --------------- r

I live in a hard tube that I build for myself
I have fine, thin gills on my head. They filter my
| food, tiny animals called zooplankton.
I am a type of worm with bristles.

I am a whole colony of animals, all alike
I grow into a fan-shaped creature that waves
| back and forth in the water.
I am a type of coral, feeding on zooplankton
I I am a SEA FAN

I crawl around the reef and eat coral polyps
I am a type of worm with stinging bristles
on my back

I I have a hard outer shell for a skeleton. I eat I
small fish, and other things I find on the sea bottom.
I especially like urchins and snails

I I am an individual in a colony of animals like me. I
I eat zooplankton
Parrotfish and butterfly fish eat me

I I am a spiny star-shaped animal. I eat algae I
and bits of dead plants and animals on the reef.
I hide in cracks and holes in the reef.

I I have a circular body outline
I swim on the surface of the ocean
| My stinging tentacles catch fish, which I eat
I am almost clear and transparent

| I possess neither a shell or a backbone.
I crawl along the ocean bottom and hide in
| holes in the reef.
I eat clams and snails

I visit the coral reef and seagrass beds.
I eat sponges and seagrasses
| I have four flippers for swimming
I am endangered

I have scales and fins, and big eyes, I am red.
I hide under corals. I eat shrimp and small fish,
but grouper and eels eat me.

I live in a beautiful shell
I move along the bottom eating algae

I don't eat because I make food from the sun.
I grow on the sandy bottom between the
reef and land. Turtles eat me.

HaodadEkr 20)A Euao' adokWDCS Tehnca Rpor

r --

I have fins and scales and sharp teeth.
I eat small fish

I have ten long arms.
Two of my arms catch small fish for me to eat.
I can change color quickly.
I am a SQUID

I I have fins and scales and two spots near
my tail that look like eyes.
I I eat zooplankton, corals and worms.

I am a spiny skinned animal with a |
circular body. My spines protect me.
I eat algae on the reef and sea floor. |

I I have fins, and am large, I breathe air.
I visit the outer edge of the reef from the deep
I ocean. I eat tuna, and other fish in schools.

I have fins and scales, a big mouth,
I stripes and spots.
I eat small fish like squirrelfish. I usually
stay very still in reef waters.

I have gills and fins and fierce jaws
I eat octopuses, fish, and sometimes,
careless divers. I am long and snake-like.

I have a tube-shaped body with tentacles.
I grow attached to rocks or shells.
My tentacles catch small fish.

+ -- --- ---
I I belong to a group of tiny animals. I
Trillions of my kind drift through a reef's waters.
I eat algae or other members of my group!

I have a hard outer skeleton and ten legs
I eat snails, worms and crabs.
People catch me so my species is in trouble.

I have fins and scales and a sort of beak.
I am brightly colored and eat algae
I am one of the biggest reef fish

I I have fins and scales and a soft skeleton.
I lie on the sandy bottom eating snails crabs and
clams. My tail has a nasty sting.

- -

I live on land and breathe air.
I eat almost everything in the ocean.
I use coral to decorate my body.

I am a tiny plant that drifts in the water without
I being seen. I need only sunlight and water
I to live. Lots of fish eat me.

H and Eckert (20 ) i. A u n WIp] Tehnca Report --

Seagrass Beds

*Preparation Time:
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V Summary
Students will learn about seagrass
and its important role in the Caribbean

V Objectives

Students will:
Identify the three main seagrass
types (species).
List three organisms that rely
on seagrass beds for survival.
Discuss why seagrass is
important to sea turtles.

V Why Is It Important?

Seagrass beds cover a large portion of
the tropical ocean floor. These beds are
rich in biodiversity and are an important
food source in the oceans. Just like on
land, "producers" (organisms that can
make food from sunlight) are critical to
the health of the habitat and form the
basis of the food chain. The seagrass
beds and coral reefs exist together and
if one disappears, the other is sure to
follow it.

V Background

There are three types of seagrass found
throughout the Caribbean. These are
Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum),
Manatee Grass (Syringodium filiforme)
and Shoal Grass (Halodule wrightii).
Manatee, once common Caribbean
herbivores, have been hunted nearly to

Just like grass and other land plants,
seagrass requires sunlight for
photosynthesis, therefore it is most

often found in shallow, clear waters.
Seagrass beds are among the most
productive marine habitats in the
world, supporting a myriad of other
plants and animals, large and small.
With root-like stems, which extend
horizontally under the sea bottom,
seagrasses act to stabilize the soft
sediment. These sediments (which
might otherwise settle on coral and
block out sunlight) tend to accumulate
and become trapped in the seagrass.

Turtle grass, the most common type of
Caribbean seagrass, thrives in areas
that are protected from heavy current
and waves. The broad leaves of turtle
grass act as filters, removing particles
from the water and depositing them
as fine sediment. These sediments
contribute to the high productivity of
this habitat and help to maintain clear

The highly productive seagrass habitat
attracts various species of fish, conch,
lobster, sea turtles, and manatees for
feeding, breeding and shelter.

Numerous species of reef fish use
seagrass as a protective nursery,
hiding from predators amid the grass.
Moreover, adult fish that hide in the
coral reef during the day and venture
out at night to feed, take advantage of
the rich source of food that exists in
the seagrass.

Currently, there are several threats
facing seagrass beds. Due to the fact
that seagrasses depend on factors
such as salinity, water temperature,
and low turbidity, this ecosystem is
particularly sensitive to agricultural,
industrial, and domestic pollution.
With increased agricultural activity, a
major threat to seagrass is run-off of
herbicides. Indiscriminate anchoring
is also a serious threat.

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