I first of all wanted to thank you for your kind contribution to the sea turtle fund - I'll be reaching out to each of you over the next week or so to start to provide you with your gift for your kind contribution. Your hard earned money has really helped us get off to a great start.
In June of 2017, our team travelled to the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Florida. This work was directly supported by your funds! Among the participants was photographer Christine Shepard who took all the photographs of the sea turtles. The research was facilitated by Dr. Jeanette Wyneken from Florida Atlantic University and was done under a consent permit from the permit from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Charles Manire was a great help, as was the staff from the Loggerhead Marine Life center. We greatly appreciate their willingness to work with us on this research. With this group, we were able to use the Beastcam technology to photograph the turtles from several different perspectives. The turtles that we were able to access included Loggerhead sea turtles, Green Sea turtles, and some hatchling leatherback sea turtles. Below are a few images taken from this trip!
Our team had an amazing experience and the photoshoot went off well. The sea turtles were inconvenienced only slightly and we were able to successfully gather some 3D data from several. Back at the University of Massachusetts, the Digital Life team, including UMASS undergraduates Brooke Ackerman and Mackay Eyster, each have spent countless hours poring over these photos. This is detailed, time intensive work and we aim to do the job right. Our first job was to create 3D models of the dorsal views of the sea turtles, which will then be integrated with the 3D ventral views of the sea turtles This is complex work that will require many hours of detailed work with 3D animators. We have created these 3D "halves" on two separate animals - a large loggerhead (preview shown below, dorsal side) and on an amazing baby leatherback sea turtle. You can open the link below and use your computer mouse to scroll around the animal. Please note that this is not a finished model and a large amount of work remains to be done to integrate the "top" with the "bottom" half.
Preview of a 3D dorsal view of a loggerhead sea turtle
Our next goal is to travel to Australia - I am travelling in November to work with collaborators from the University of Western Australia to capture 3D models of Flatback sea turtles. While none of the sea turtle funds will likely be used for this work, this amazing animal will be an incredible addition to our collection. In 2018, we hope to travel to Costa Rica and the Bahamas to gather data on Olive Ridley sea turtles and also Green and perhaps even Hawksbill sea turtles.
I thank you again for your kind contribution. Your support means a lot to us!
With kind regards
Duncan J Irschick
Director, Digital Life Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst