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Being A Research Assistant, The Best Decision Of My Life

As my senior year ends and I am sheltered at home during these unprecedented times, I find it is a good time for self-reflection. Over the past year, I have been fortunate to be a research assistant for an ongoing University of Florida/Sea Turtle Conservancy/United States Geological Survey in-water research project on green sea turtle abundance in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico under Ph.D. student and sea turtle biologist Richard Herren.

As many people know, the east coast beaches of Florida are home to some of the largest loggerhead, and green turtle nesting aggregations  in the North Atlantic. While there have been fisherman reports, historical accounts and a few studies, much less is known about the  juvenile and adult sea turtles found in the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida, which is home to critical foraging habitat. Knowing more about the sea turtles here can help better protect the species and determine the best management practices for the future under manmade and natural changes. Like most of the ocean, there is a lot about sea turtles that is still unknown.

Even after going out of many trips, it is exciting every time I see turtles swimming gracefully through the crystal-clear water. The most exciting part for me is finding the turtle hotspots and capturing turtles in order to place tracking devices on them to track movements and better understand the populations.

Being able to work on this project, gaining valuable field experience and connections has been one of the highlights of my college experience and life. In my future endeavors, I hope to continue to advocate for and help with the conservation and protection of these amazing creatures.  For more information on this project and more about sea turtles, see and and feel free to reach out to me!

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