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ISTS Day 4: The Last Day

April 25, 2011

So I took a week-long break to Hawaii (which I will talk about later), but I feel I must sum up my experience in San Diego at the International Sea Turtle Symposium.

Basically the last morning was filled with lots of running around, packing up the tabling supplies, loading the car, sitting around, looking for people, more sitting around and then sitting through a few interesting sessions. Tabling over the course of ISTS was probably the low point of the conference, and talking to people about my poster was definitely the high point.

I was so glad to be done with tabling. At times it was fun to talk to passer-bys and get them interested in what STRP is doing, having them sign our petitions and giving out free stickers. It was definitely a great deal more interesting to sit in on scientific presentations and try to figure out what in the world they were talking about. On the last day in particular, there were two sessions I sat in on. The first was “Population Assessments” and the second was “Threats.”
In the population assessments session I learned that there are seven different breeding stocks of leatherbacks in the Atlantic, the largest of which breed in French Guiana. Some other guy started talking about hawksbill sea turtles found in Jumby Bay and Buck Island in the Caribbean—those two locations I only remember because of their funny sounding names. And there was a lot of confusing terminology being thrown around, such as neophyte and remigrant. After a while I caught on: a neophyte is a first time nesting sea turtle, and a remigrant is a sea turtle that has returned, or remigrated (aha!), to nest again at the same beach.
In the threats session the most notable memory I have is listening to this guy with an Australian accent say the words “bathymetric depth” over and over and over again. Also learned about el Niño and la Niña and how they influence hatchling success and sex ratios.

Friday morning we took down our beautiful posters. I was registered as a student, I was given the opportunity to have my poster assessed, but unfortunately I never got the results back. I felt like I did a really great job anyway. Mostly because quite a few people approached me to tell me so. I guess that was enough of an assessment for me. You can take a look at my poster and others by STRP here!

To finish off ISTS with a bang, they had Dr. Wallace J. Nichols give the closing speech, and as always he handed out Blue Marbles and encouraged us to pass them along to others. I think I ended up with three blue marbles over the course of the week.

I’m glad I ended up taking this opportunity to travel down to San Diego and publish this poster. To be quite honest it’ll do wonders for my résumé, but I think it was more valuable for me to be meeting people and seeing what other activists, college students and scientists are working on and what I may able to research or work on in the future. Maybe next year I’ll find an internship with sea turtle research?

Also thank you thank you thank you to the friends I stayed with in San Diego. They made the week so fun and less stressful for me!

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