Florida Turtle Sampling Trips Set Record

by Eric Munscher 

The North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (NAFTRG) sampled several springs in Florida from March 21 to 30. The crew kicked sampling off at Manatee Springs with Dr. John Iverson (TSA Board) and his international class from Earlham College in Indiana. Due to the flooding in the Suwannee River, only about half of the normal survey area was accessible for sampling. Despite that fact, they still managed to capture 153 turtles in just two days! Being in the field with Dr. Iverson was a dream come true for several of the researchers and volunteers.

Next, the crew moved down to Wekiwa Springs for five days of sampling. They captured 202 turtles in just the first day, setting a trip record. In total, the team managed to capture 374 turtles during the entire trip there. A cold spell during the middle of the week caused a dip in the number of captures on those days, but overall it was a fantastic trip. In total, they caught ten different species at Wekiwa, which is a first! Throughout the week, a class from Freed Hardeman University and a group from Jekyll Island (led by Kimberly Andrews) helped out. During that time, the team also sampled nearby Blue Spring and managed to capture 70 turtles there.

From Wekiwa and Blue Spring, the group moved back north to Ichetucknee Springs for the last leg of their trip. There they were joined by two groups (shown below) from area universities: one from Santa Fe College led by professor Jerry Johnston, and a wildlife ecology class from the University of Florida taught by Ben Atkinson. With their help the NAFTRG crew captured 202 turtles the first day and before they left on Sunday they had captured another 70.

When all was said and done, the group  had captured more than 900 turtles at four springs in just ten days. This definitely would not have been possible without the help of a great team of volunteers. If you are interested in participating in a future sampling trip in Florida or Texas, click here for more information.