by Christine Bowie 

You don’t have to be a researcher or a biologist to volunteer with the North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (NAFTRG). Are you a strong swimmer? Don your wetsuit, fins and snorkel for capturing turtles in the water. Do you love turtles and the outdoors, but aren’t crazy about swimming? Volunteer to collect data such as weights and measurements. There are volunteer opportunities for people with a variety of skill sets!

Eric and Irene with 43lb softshell

The NAFTRG was formed in 1999 as a long-term monitoring effort for important protected habitats including freshwater springs in Florida and Texas. In November 2012, the NAFTRG formally merged with the TSA, increasing the TSA’s involvement in North American turtle conservation, creating volunteer opportunities for its members, and also bringing additional resources to the NAFTRG.

This long-term monitoring effort samples all species found within each respective system. All turtles captured are given two unique identifiers, measured, weighed, and assessed for damage. Study sites are sampled three or four times a year, depending on location to ascertain growth, age of population, biomass, density, sex ratios, and percent survivability over time. Monitoring protected populations allows for researchers to infer population dynamics and act accordingly.

There is still time to volunteer for the 2015 sampling season. The team will be sampling beautiful Comal Springs, New Braunfels, Texas on November 13-15. Dates for the 2016 season will be announced soon. For more information contact Eric Munscher.

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