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Brevard Zoo Turns To Tech To Keep Tabs On Turtles

Photo courtesy of Volusia County's Environmental Management Division
Photo courtesy of Volusia County's Environmental Management Division

The Brevard Zoo is working with engineers to develop technology to help keep tabs on sea turtles. Researchers hope the technology can fill in some of what they don’t know about turtles.

Brevard Zoo has been running a sea turtle hospital since 2014. The zoo’s executive director Keith Winsten said a $100,000 dollar grant from the Northrop Grumman foundation will be used to develop technology to help learn more about turtles. He says researchers know the basics of turtle biology, but there’s still a lot they don’t know.

“So we’re trying to develop some photographic systems that could be used with a drone or an airplane could fly over that inshore water, essentially that near shore water, and start to record what species of turtles, what are they doing there, what are their numbers what are their activities,” said Winsten.

Researchers are also trying to learn more about how temperature and humidity affect hatching.

“So we’re in the process of creating essentially a sensor array that can live in a sea turtle nest," said Winsten.

He said the array "wouldn’t bother the sea turtle eggs or babies [but] would give us information on what are the changes, in terms of the temperature and humidity, when actually hatching activity starts.”

As part of the project, volunteers from the zoo will work alongside Northrop Grumman engineers, with collaboration from UCF and the University of Florida.