Animal Behaviour

Students have the opportunity to aid in a preliminary study focusing on long-term memory potential in green sea turtle hatchlings, Chelonia mydas. There have been several studies investigating memory in other species of turtles, but very few on sea turtles. There is a lot of interest in deeply understanding how sea turtles are able to migrate long distances between foraging and nesting sites over their lifetime. Many theories emphasize their use of magnetic, visual, and olfactory cues to find relevant sites as adults, but there are many unknowns about the post-hatchling phase as a whole.

The students’ role will be to help with the set-up, execution, and analysis of a pilot study investigating memory. The project involves repetitive training sessions with the use of an enrichment device and a food reward to test memory. The turtles will be introduced to an enrichment puzzle, trained how to use it, and tested after several months of no interaction. This pilot study is necessary in order to confirm the effectiveness of the proposed enrichment device and project design. The students will leave this experience with the understanding and appreciation of the work and thoughtfulness that goes into designing a research project.

The Aim of your project:

  • On top of aiding in a real research project, the students will investigate their own topic of interest while learning alongside from sea turtle researchers that have worked in the field.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Ellen Ariel and Bethany Adomanis (Caraplace Facilities Manager)

What will you be doing?

Husbandry starts Tuesday through Friday from 8-10 AM including tasks such as:

  • Aid in a preliminary research project focusing on training the hatchlings to investigate memory potential
  • Attend several presentations provided by turtle researchers within the university
  • Research a topic of interest on sea turtles with tips from post graduate students
  • Give a PowerPoint presentation on your findings & experience in the program