Each Key Chain Represents a Rescued Sea Turtle that your Purchase Helped Benefit!
Each baby sea turtle is marked with colored, non-toxic nail polish. so that you can identify:
1) What species you helped rescued.
2) Where your sea turtle was rescued.
3) What ID number your sea turtle has.
Every year, the FAU Marine Research Laboratory rescues, studies, and releases up to 400 baby sea turtles from various nesting locations along the East Coast of Florida. In doing so, the founders of the laboratory: Professors, Jeanette Wyneken and Michael Salmon, have created a marking system that gives every sea turtle its own identification code. Every code is different from the last - just like a fingerprint! Each baby sea turtle is marked with colored, non-toxic nail polish.
The color of the mark, is used to distinguish between three species of nesters:
- Green markings - it represents a green sea turtle.
- Blue or Yellow markings - it represents a loggerhead.
- NO MARKINGS - it represents a leatherback.
*Because Leatherback Sea Turtles are VERY RARE in the wild, we only send out 1 leather back keychain with every 10 orders!
Vertebral Scute & Coastal Scute Markings:
The vertebral scutes are found along the midline of the shell (or "carapace"), and correspond to the specific beach where the female nested. The coastal scutes, are found on either side of the vertebral scutes, and correspond to the number assigned to the nest location on a particular beach in Florida. This mark, distinguishes the nest from all the others on the same beach. The code used can involve as many as 3 different marginal scutes. For example, if scute 1 (nearest the head), 2 and 5 are marked, then the nest is the 125th nest placed on that beach. On Florida's East coast, the main nesting beaches are located adjacent to two cities: Melbourne Beach to the north, and Juno Beach to the south. Together, these sites account for about 80% of all the nests places on Florida's beaches. If the mark is on the vertebral scute closer to the head, it signifies a northern location toward Melbourne Beach. If the mark is on a vertebral scute is towards the tail, it signifies a southern nesting beach such as on located at Juno Beach, Boca Raton, or even Miami. A different coding system is used to leatherbacks, because leatherbacks do not have coastal and vertebral scutes described.
These scutes are on the outside edge of the shell. The marking indicates the turtle's individual ID number. Scientists rescue no more than 10 hatchlings from each nest so each individual hatchling receives a number between 1 and 10. This number is coded by placing a mark on one of the marginal scutes on each turtle. The first marginal scute towards the top of the shell corresponds to hatchling number 1, the second to hatching number 2, ect., proceeding backwards on each turtle towards the tail.
Did you know? Sea Turtles hatchlings are male or female depending on the temperature in which they were nested in, known as the "pivotal temperature." The temperature varies slightly among species, ranging roughly 83-85 degrees Fahrenheit (28-29 degrees Celsius). Temperature above this range produce females and colder temperatures produce males.
Beaches on the East Coast of Florida support thousands of marine turtle nests annually, deposited by three species; leatherbacks in the Spring, loggerheads during the Summer, and green sea turtles during late Summer and Fall. Loggerhead nests are most common, and each of their nests contains on average about 110 eggs. But of the hundreds of thousands of loggerhead hatchlings that emerge from those nests each year, less than 1% will survive to produce the single male and female destined to become the next generation. The problem is that these numbers are just a fraction of what they were 500 years ago, before human's destructive behavior pushed these turtles close to extinction.
At the FAU marine laboratory, research projects under the direction of Professors Jeanette Wyneken and Michael Salmon, represent part of the international effort to promote the recovery of these animals to population size that minimally approach this historical levels. They do so through their own research efforts and those of their students. These projects center on both conservation issues (such as monitoring the production, sex, and health of the turtles from each nest) as well as learning how they navigate in the open ocean, and what they detect using their sense of smell, their vision, and their ability to use Earth's magnetic field to find their way through multiple oceans and somehow manage to return as adults to beaches within 1 mile where their nest was originally located.
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