Throughout all of these posts, you may have been wondering what we do with the turtles after we catch them and hopefully this post answers all those questions!

Once we catch the turtles in the field, we place them in pencil cases with a letter associated with their ID. These pencil cases are placed in our backpacks until we hike back to the truck to get our supplies. Once we get set up, the turtles go through a serious of stations with different things happening at each one.

Station 1: Shell swabs. At this station, I swab the turtles carapace and plastron to collect DNA which I will test for a new shell fungus later this year. This shell fungus is known as Emydomyces testavorans and causes damage such as erosions, flaking and discoloration of the carapace and plastron if the turtle is infected.

Station 2: Venipuncture. At this station, we collect a sample of blood from the subcarapacial sinus to use for lab work after we return to the lab.

Station 3: Physical exams. Dr. Laura takes each turtle and performs a thorough physical exam to check for any external abnormalities and collects oral and cloacal swabs we will use to test for diseases.

Station 4: Heart rate. Using a doppler, we are able to listen to the turtles heart to check for murmurs and collect a heart rate. This can get pretty difficult with EBTs because this requires them to actually come out of their shell!

Station 5: Demographics. At this station, we measure the height, length and width of the turtle carapace and the length of the plastron. These measurements are extremely helpful to differentiate between turtles if their permanent IDs are damaged and to measure growth from year to year.

Once the turtle has been to each of these stations, we hike back to return them right where we find them and then head back to complete the lab work!