Sea turtles wear tiny swimsuits for science
USA Today Network Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY Network 10:06 a.m. EDT October 2, 2015
Researchers at the University of Queensland Australia may have some of the best-dressed research subjects, outfitting sea turtles in colorful bathing suits so the scientists can learn more about the animals' feeding habits. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) Buzz60
Australian scientists, researching the diet of endangered sea turtles, came up with a novel way to collect fecal samples.
Owen Coffee, a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Australia, created turtle bathing suits that act as a “harness” for a giant diaper to collect feces from the turtles, according to a university statement.
(Photo: University of Queensland)
Coffee’s research focuses on the diet of endangered sea turtles and uses poop samples to identify the location of their foraging areas.
“Collecting the feces of an extremely strong (…) sea turtle in the open ocean is no simple task,” the University of Queensland said in the statement.
To get around the impossible task of collecting samples in the ocean, researchers captured six loggerhead sea turtles and kept them in a tank until they relieved themselves.
Despite the smaller collection area, Coffee said they tried multiple ways to collect fecal samples from the tank to no avail.
The researchers decided to try something a little different, Coffee said in the statement. He bought “sun shirts” and removed the sleeves, placed slits up the side and sewed the bottom together in two places, leaving space for the turtle’s tail and a detachable fecal collector.
The turtles were suited up and scientists were finally able to collect the samples. Afterwards the “world’s best-dressed sea turtles” had their swimming suits removed and were released back into Moreton Bay off the coast of Australia.