Posted Nov. 7, 2022
Rhys Bowen is a student in the School of Biosciences, Geography and Physics at Swansea University and studies an MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change. He had the amazing privilege of taking a month-long expedition to Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan, Turkiyë and tells us of his experience in his blog.
Effects of beach microplastics on sea turtle nesting temperatures in the Mediterranean
As part of my MSc Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change thesis, I was fortunate to have travelled to the DEKAMER Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan, Turkiyë for a month-long expedition (July 2022). Leading a team of Swansea Marine Biology students, the trip provided the opportunity to undertake fieldwork on multiple projects as well as fulfill a number of volunteering roles at the centre. Ultimately, the information and experience gained improved our knowledge on sea turtle ecology and the link between human activities and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles.
My thesis aimed to evaluate the effects of three microplastics (polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, polystyrene) on sand temperatures at depths that are representative of C. caretta nests. Fieldwork involved burying temperature loggers at 30cm and 50cm underneath experimental plots seeded with each microplastic separately (as well as a control plot) at four sites on Iztuzu Beach. Temperatures were recorded over a two-week period from 17th – 31st July 2022. The results are reported in my thesis which will be available after marking.
Beach Surveys – Nightly beach patrols (21.30pm – 04.30am) at Iztuzu Beach involved track identification, locating and relocating nests, caging nests to protect eggs from predation, tagging adult females and taking samples for laboratory work. Later into the month, as eggs began to hatch, I was also able to open hatched nests and assist in recording the number of eggs that had hatched and unhatched and their stages in embryonic development.
Rehabilitation and Information – In this role, I was able to get first-hand experience cleaning tanks and feeding C. caretta and green (Chelonia mydas) in rehabilitation. Further, I presented information on sea turtle ecology and the conservation efforts of DEKAMER to visiting tourists. DEKAMER believe that educating the public is the best way to make a positive impact for sea turtle conservation.
General Support – Lastly, I provided assistance in the maintenance and upkeeping of the centre, alongside the other volunteers.
Why not consider a Biosciences, Geography or Physics postgraduate degree at Swansea University!
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