My job description is Coastal Resource Management, however a day at work could mean any number activities on land or in the water…
Recently, I visited the turtle hatchery in Ferrol, Romblon to educate local staff members on sea turtle embryonic development to avoid future egg mortalities. This interactive lesson featured a banana peel, representing the egg yolk or food source for the developing turtle; a green baby turtle made from a plastic bag; water for the fluids contained inside the egg; and a wine glass to represent the turtle egg shell, which in reality is about the size of a ping pong ball with a soft leathery feel. I then proceeded to tape the green “embryo” to the top of the wine glass to demonstrate how the membrane surrounding the baby turtle fuses with the egg shell shortly after eggs are laid. This is why it is EXTREMELY important to transport nests immediately after they are laid if the nest needs to be moved and to take extra care not to rotate or shake eggs at all during transport. Current research recommends transport within the first 3 hours of oviposition and discourages any movement after 10 hours. If the connection of the vitelline membrane to the egg shell is broken the embryonic turtle may not be able to properly respire (turtles breath air) inside the egg and will likely die. After passing around my wine glass turtle egg, the hatchery staff will take extra care if moving eggs in the future!
*Source: Lutz, Musick, & Wyneken (2002) “The Biology of Sea Turtle Vol 2” page 201. And Limpus (1979).
This lesson for the advanced 7th grade science class featured a field trip to the Mountain, Lowland and Coastal Ecosystems. Students learned to collect field data by recording the substrate in their 1mX1m quadrate in each location. We then discussed how ecosystems are interconnected and how actions like deforestation in the mountains can lead to sedimentation damage at the coral reef.
My favorite part about teaching is knowing that each student will remember that lesson for the rest of their lives! Not necessarily that ecosystem comes from the word “oikos” meaning “home,” but that a crazy American took them on a hike through trees, shrubs, grasses and sand and it was fun! If that is all they remember at least those 7th graders can now recognize various ecosystems and will value these resources. And maybe, just maybe it will influence how they live and act in the future.