Turtles at Dusk


Photograph by Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D.

Turtles at Dusk

FAU Researcher Captures Rare Sea Turtle Behavior in Hawaii

Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, spent her sabbatical studying sea turtles in Hawaii. One evening, when she arrived on the beach, “it was the perfect set of visual conditions,” she said. “The sun was low and the light golden. There was mist in the air from the surf” and the green sea turtles were out of the water on the beach. The conditions were inspiring.

Wyneken grabbed her iphone and took a few photos of the marine reptiles. One image stood out, she said. With this image, she won the In-the-Field faculty category for the 2022 annual Art of Science photography contest, hosted by FAU’s Division of Research.

In the Hawaiian Islands, green sea turtles uniquely come to the beach in large numbers, though the reasons are unknown, said Wyneken, director of the FAU Marine Lab, but they appear to be resting and sleeping. They are not ashore to nest and are not sick, she added. Wyneken studies the behavior, morphology, ecology and conservation of sea turtles, seeking to understand how animals interact with their environment.

During her research trip, local collaborators needed to collect their data on tagged turtles and they were exploring potential field sites. “As soon as we came onto the beach, the combination of adult sea turtles coming ashore, and the setting sun's light made us stop and appreciate the moment,” she said. “The view was almost breathtaking, for a biologist.”

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