Digital Life: Creating 3D Models of Sea Turtles

Digital Life: Creating 3D Models of Sea Turtles

Help the Digital Life team at UMass Amherst create 3D models of sea turtles to promote education, conservation and science!

The Digital Life team is the only group in the world that can create accurate, high-resolution 3D models of a wide range of living animals through our Beastcam™ technology.  The Beastcam™ technology creates 3D models of live animals through photogrammetry - the practice of integrating 2D photographs to make 3D models.  A variety of sample models are already available for public viewing on our website:

Our 3D Modeling Process:


The Digital Life team is raising funds to create 3D models of sea turtles, which are among the most enigmatic and threatened groups on earth.  Renowned for their beauty and embedded deeply within human consciousness, sea turtles have suffered devastating declines in population numbers because of overharvesting of eggs for food, and adults for food and heirlooms.  Because of their iconic status, and the severe risks to their populations, preserving these species digitally will be a powerful symbol of the risks they face.  Further, as there exist no preserved sea turtles in good condition, generating 3D virtual models of these animals will provide a tremendous benefit for scientists and educators.

To create 3D models of live sea turtles, we aim to travel to several field locations such as Central America, Florida, Australia, and others.  As needed, the team will also access turtles in zoos, refuges or rehabilitation centers.  At each site, we will access these animals through scientific partners, and we will use the Beastcam technology and other techniques to create 3D models of each of the seven species of sea turtle (Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green, Flatback, Olive Ridley and Kemps Ridley).


Our 3D models (visit our website for samples, including sharks, lizards, and more) are valuable for education, science, and conservation.  Teachers can use these 3D models to teach students about animal morphology and taxonomy.  Scientists can use these models to test new theories for animal movement and body shape, and to create digital "voucher" specimens that don't require killing the animal!  Finally, these 3D models highlight the beauty and fragility of living animals and offer conservationists a powerful new tool to inspire the public to help conserve the biodiversity of life on earth. 


We need your help to fulfill this mission.  We are seeking funds to pay for travel to different field sites to access the sea turtles (in collaboration with sea turtle scientists), for equipment, and for associated costs of the 3D work, such as hiring animators.  Some of the funds will also be used generally to support the broader Digital Life mission of creating accurate 3D models of life on earth for education, conservation and science.  Your donation will allow us to distribute our content to people all over the world, including to children, educators, scientists and many others.



Digital Life has assembled a team of recognized sea turtle biologists who will work with our team to carry out the work.  We have also assembled a team of professional photographers, engineers and administrative staff who will develop the equipment for capturing the 3D models, take the photos, and work with educational, scientific, and media organizations on disseminating the models.  The 3D digital sea turtle models will be shared widely with various educational institutions, K-12 organizations and science museums, as well as hosted on our website.


Join the adventure by backing and sharing our project. Together we can digitally preserve the heritage of life on Earth, starting with the Sea Turtles of the World! 

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