More from DISL – and a surprise!

Bit by bit I will finish up my posts from Dauphin Island Sea Lab.  The workshop was focused on the use of technology in oceanography and so we learned lots about how technology is used to help us find answers to questions.  Part of the course was working with GPS.  Each of the participants was given a sturdy, waterproof, k id-proof, me-proof GPS.  It even floats!  After a basic introduction we had a scavenger hunt.  After dinner we used the GPS to track our walk along the beach on the west end of the island.  This is where the island was cut in two by hurricane Ivan, and then after Katrina and the BP spill, BP filled in the gap with large boulders.  The sun was setting just as we were getting back to the bus.  It is such a pretty place!The next morning we downloaded our data and compared it to the Google Earth version of the island.

You can see that we apparently walked in the water, but no – that was the area that now is filled in with boulders.  We came up with lots of great ideas of how the GPS units can be used with our students.

And now for the surprise!  When we returned from our evening walk we told about the turtles.  Apparently Dauphin Island is a nesting site for sea turtles and some of the staff at DISL are volunteers in the network that monitors the nests and follows the protocols that make sure that the nests get checked on during the hatching time.  There were some baby Loggerhead? turtles that were rescued as they were found in a nest a few days after the majority of the turtles went to the sea.  Aren’t they cute?

They were being taken back to their nest at night so that they could make their journey to the ocean.  When mature they will come back to this island to lay their eggs, but to do that they need to get the scent of the island, so they must make their own journey from the nest to the water.  We could not touch them, but we could come and watch them be released.  We were out there, in the dark (only red light as white light would confuse them and they would not head to the ocean) cheering them on.  Here is one of them…

It took awhile, but all of them eventually were caught up by a gentle wave and swept back out into the sea.  A big thanks to Connie for a few of the photos.  What a privilege it was to see one of these events!  It was among the many memorable experiences from this workshop, but stay tuned…it was such a rich experience that there is still more to tell!


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