John Taylor-Lehman (TAS 2011) Spends Time in Trinidad Studying Leatherback Turtles

John Taylor-Lehman (TAS 2011) Spends Time in Trinidad Studying Leatherback Turtles 

During the spring of 2012, representatives from the Earthwatch Institute, contacted John Taylor-Lehman (TAS 2011) and offered him the opportunity to be a facilitator for a student program in Trinidad that works with scientists to study leatherback turtles. John thought that this would be a great opportunity to explore a new culture, learn about a unique species and share his science knowledge with some new students who chose to be in the program.

John was in Trinidad for twelve days, where he was responsible for students 24 hours a day. While on patrol at night he assisted guides in instructing students on the proper techniques for collecting data as the adult leatherback turtles came ashore to lay eggs and the hatchlings emerged from their nests. John also helped tag turtle flippers if no tag was found, measure physical features, and GPS the location of the nest.  

The nests of the hatchlings were excavated once the main eruption of hatchlings emerged. The unfertilized eggs, rotten eggs, dead hatchlings and eggshells were counted. By the end of the trip John and the students were able to help the guides provide information to the tourists who came to see the turtles. The only way a person could get on this protected stretch of beach was with a guide. The tourists had to pay a fee to see the turtles.

John plans to show all his classes the photos and videos that he took while in Trinidad and incorporate data into an Oceanography unit. He will also talk about how vital community involvement is in conservation efforts.

John Taylor-Lehman (TAS 2011) is a biology, chemistry, oceanography, and zoology teacher at Tri-Valley High School in Dresden, OH. He was aboard R/V Savannah for seven days in June and July 2011 while scientists conducted reef fish sampling off the east coast of the United States.  

You can read his TAS blogs here. 

A man and a woman look at a huge leatherback turtle lying in the sand.
John Taylor-Lehman studying a leatherback turtle.