Finding the “Lost Years”

By: Graduate Studies on

This summer, UCF biologist Kate Mansfield, PhD, and her Florida team at the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group (MTRG) published a first-of-its-kind study about the “lost years” of sea turtles. Little was known about this period of time from when the turtles hatched and headed to sea until they return nearer to shore as juveniles. Thanks to Dr. Mansfield’s innovative thinking and research techniques, such as using non-toxic manicure acrylic, old wetsuits, and hair-extension glue to attach satellite tags to small turtles, we are beginning to learn more about the behavior of the young turtles. Her “whole-life history” approach – from eggs to maturity – will further the understanding of the biology, ecology, and conservation needs of Atlantic sea turtles.

Dr. Mansfield has studied sea turtles for more than two decades. She conducted her doctoral research on large coastal juveniles in Chesapeake Bay. Having taken over as lab director of MTRG in 2013, Mansfield is currently working under grants from NOAA and the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate fund to conduct work on the sea turtle “lost years.” Her work has received coverage in National Geographic, NPR, BBC, and the Smithsonian Magazine.

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