Tracking Turtles

Aspire3LogoMatt Turtles

Spongeboy: Land Turtles
Spoderman: Sea Turtles
Turtleman: Anatomy (External and Internal)
Pandagirl:  Diet
Danglekid: Turtle Behaviour
Turtlesquad: Terrapins and Fresh Water Turtles

ASPIRE Mentor: Matt Gilbert

Background Info:
Floyd Greer.  Turtles : Documentary on Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins from Around the World

Turtles are called TortoisesSea TurtlesTerrapins
Testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive and are commonly known as tortoises, sea turtles and terrapins.
Baby turtles are called hatchlings and a group of turtles is called a 'bale'.
Tortoises are terrestrial
or Land Dwellers. They live on all continents except Australia and Antarctica.
Sea turtles can be found in oceans except for the polar regions. The adult female turtle lays her eggs on land (the beach).Terrapins live in fresh or brackish water. Brackish water occurs when fresh water meets seawater.
Table 1


  • Types of turtles
  • Diet
  • Reproduction
  • Physiology
    • Hold breath?
  • Anatomy
    • Endoskeleton
  • Movement
    • Tracking through satellite tags
    • Seasonal/temperature related movement
    • Sea turtles, other types?
    • Habitat type
    • Activity vs movement speed
    • Where do they live and how does that affect their movement

Research Question:

Focus on questions related to turtle tracking:

How does movement differ between the different species?

  • Lifespan and death (when and where)
  • What time of year is movement greatest?
    • Related to reproduction
    • Related to diet
    • Temperature
  • What species tends to travel to greatest distance
  • What types of depths do turtles dive
  • What species travel at greatest speeds
    • Related to temperature
    • Related to size?
    • anatomy (fin size)


Mojito Adoption PapersTurtle

Sea Turtle Tracking

 Data Collection
Turtle Data – Sheet1

Analysis of  Data:

Using Google Sheets to Analyze DataLearning how to use Pivot Tables with Matthew.
Analyzing Data1 Turtle Crunching numbersd

Title: Count of Turtles per SpeciesTitle: Average Length by Species
Comment: We had at least four turtles per species but we had an extra turtle but that was ok. we had four Hawksbills, Leatherbacks, Loggerheads and five Green turtles.Comment: On average leatherbacks are the longest turtles that we studied, hawksbills are the shortest and loggerheads and greens have intermediate length.

Title: Average Width by SpeciesTitle: Average of Time Tracked (Days)
Comment: On average Green turtles are the widest turtles that we studied,however there is only one turtle with data on width. Hawksbills are the smallest turtles and Loggerheads and Leatherbacks have intermediate widths.Comment: On average the hawksbill and the loggerhead have been tracked the longest amount to time and and the leatherback and green are intermediate in tracking time. Even though the leatherbacks have been tracked an intermediate time they have gone the fartherst.

Title: Average km Traveled vs SpeciesTitle: Average Shell Shape
Comment: Leatherbacks travel the most, possibly because they are the biggest, Greens travel the least and Hawksbills and Loggerheads are intermediate with distance traveled.Comment: Leatherbacks are more shaped like a oval unlike the other species are more round. Turtles with a oval shape are faster than turtles that have rounder shells (carapace).

Title: Average Speed Since Release by SpeciesLooking at the data.
Comment:The gragh shows the average speed of the turtles. Leatherbacks are the fastest and Hawksbills are the slowest. Using data to gain information on sea turtles.

Data Reflections / Further Investigations

While analyzing the data we collected on our seventeen turtles it was interesting to see how the numbers told a story about the different species.  One the things we found out was that turtles with an oval shaped carapace, like the leatherback, are faster and travel farther than turtles that have rounder shells (carapace). Analyzing the data we collected ended up providing a lot of information about the different species of sea turtles.

Another area of interest we had was to explore the external and internal anatomy of the turtle through dissection.  To do this each group member led a section of the dissection. Using the turtle dissection below, Turtleman began the dissection by introducing us to the Turtle’s Integument and Structure.
Turtle Dissection PDF


External KidsExposing1
Class: Reptilia “to creep or crawl”
Order: Chelonia “tortoise
CARAPACE (dorsal shell)PLASTRON (ventral shell).
anteriorDorsal PosteriorParacase Ventral side
using the guideOpening Turtle1Opening Turtle2


Dissection Reflections

Identification of Turtle Features and Organs  Once you have your turtle right in front of you it is very motivating to learn as much as possible about the animal.   We were able to very quickly identify many external  features and internal parts/organs of the turtle…with Matthew’s help.

  1. carapace (dorsal)
  2. plastron (ventral)
  3. scutes
  4. bridge
  5. tail /beak
  6. keritan
  7. pectoralis muscle
  8. nicitating membrane
  9. nares
  10. tympanic membrane 
  11. heart (3 chambers-right/left atrium and ventricle)
  12. lungs
  13. wind pipe (trachea)
  14. bronchi
  15. alveoli (air sacs)
  16. liver
  17. esophagus
  18. stomach
  19. small intestine
  20. large intestine
  21. bladder
  22. kidneys
  23. ovaries
  24. eggs
  25. oviducts
  26. cloaca


Hey Turtle Group!

You generated some really interesting information over the course of the year and your project turned out really well. Your success had a lot to do with your continued enthusiasm as a group, but you each made unique contributions to the project. This was clear by your ongoing participation in our many discussions throughout the year and is shown clearly by your individual analyses in the figures above. One key finding you had is that the form and structure of an animal are tightly linked to its behaviour and lifestyle. This relationship is one that scientists study extensively and it is impressive that you were able to generate data that shows a clear example of this.

Great work this year and I look forward to working with you all again next year!