Sea Turtles of the World
Sea turtles are among the most enigmatic and charismatic animal groups in the world. This group, composed of seven species, is a popular subject for education, science, and conservation. Renowned for their beauty, and embedded deeply within human consciousness, sea turtles have suffered dramatic declines in overall population numbers because of over-harvesting. Sea turtles are likely to face even greater challenges to their populations due to climate change. Because of these risks to their populations, preserving these species digitally will be a powerful symbol of the risks they face. As there exist no preserved sea turtles in good condition, generating 3D virtual models of these animals will benefit scientists and educators. Scientists will be able to test theories for how sea turtles swim, and better understand their migration patterns. Educators will be able to 3D print these turtles to teach students about sea turtle morphology, or to use as a teaching tool in software or virtual reality platforms.
Digital Life has assembled a team of internationally recognized sea turtle biologists who will carry out the field work. In addition, Digital Life has assembled a team of professional photographers, engineers and administrative staff who will develop the equipment for capturing the 3D models, take the relevant photos, and work with educational, scientific, and media organizations on disseminating the models. The Digital Life team will travel to several field sites, including Florida, Texas, Costa Rica, Australia and Greece. As needed, the team will access turtles in zoos or refuges or rehabilitation centers.
Jeanette Wyneken | Professor, Florida Atlantic University | www.biology.fau.edu/directory/wyneken/index.php
Annabelle Brooks | Sea Turtle Team Leader & Earthwatch Scientist, Cape Eleuthera Institute, Bahamas | www.earthwatch.org/scientific-research/our-scientists/annabelle-brooks
Duncan Irschick | Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst | www.bio.umass.edu/biology/irschick/
Green Sea Turtle
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are found throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. This species is notable for its green skin and shell, which arises from the chlorophyll from its diet of sea grass.
The Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is one of the most endangered sea turtles, due to overharvesting for their beautiful shells. Along with the risk of climate change, and its effects on corals, their main food, the future of hawksbills remains in doubt.
The Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest and most wide-ranging of all sea turtles. Their distinctive curved and ridged shell, and their habit of consuming jellyfish make them a distinctive species.
The Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is one of the larger sea turtles, and ranges widely in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, as well as the Mediterranean sea. This endangered species is harvested widely by fishermen and communities.
The most geographically restricted sea turtle species, the Flatback (Natator depressus) occurs along the Northern coast of Australia. This species is distinctive for its flattened shell.
The Kemps Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is the most rare of all sea turtles. This species prefers warmer waters, and is restricted to the Atlantic ocean.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are intermediate in size and occur in warmer waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This species are known for their massive breeding congregations (arribadas) in which hundreds of turtles congregate on nesting beaches.