I am sure you must have seen films on the National Geographic channel which show hundreds of sea turtle hatchlings appearing out of the sand, dashing into the ocean for their adventurous but dangerous voyages. Behind this touching scene of nature, in national protected areas where sea turtles lay eggs and breed, lots of preparation and protection work need to be done to ensure the baby sea turtles make their way to the sea.
The project Turtle Sense was initiated by Eric Kaplan, founder of a company which developed bluetooth wireless technology test equipment and of the Hatteras Island Ocean Center. It aims to develop a simple inexpensive device that can detect when a hatchling boil occurs and shorten the current six-week window for estimating a hatch date to a reliable 1 to 3 days. Sealed in a ping pong ball the same size as a turtle egg, a motion and temperature sensor is placed alongside the eggs in a nest and sends out data plans with the motion and temperature data of the eggs via a hatched cell phone connected to the device. The system was tested and installed in the National Park Service (NPS) at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the US in 2013.
Some conveniences go along with the successful testing and implementation of Turtle Sense in National Park, for their protection and research work, park management and educational programmes.
More effective international protection will be available since the protection resources can be concentrated close to the hatch date, instead of being stretched over 6 weeks. With a tighter hatching schedule, the public would have the opportunity to observe the hatchlings heading for the sea, an observation available only randomly now, said the park manager. This technology might be useful for scientists studying sea turtles, and might be adaptable for the study of other egg-laying species.
The sensor/cell network can be used and adapted for measurements of other species, including birds. With its low establishment cost and long battery life (rechargeable with NiMH AA batteries), it may pose other potential benefits to environmental studies and research. Designed as an open source resource, all the design information will be available to the public on the wiki http://nerdswithoutborders.net