Just Keep Swimming

July 19, 2020 - All

The original goal of this project was to map the movement of sea turtles. I was inspired by an article that I read a few years ago in Nautilus magazine, Where the Wild Things Go. Oliver Uberti wrote the article and also created the gorgeous illustrated maps of elephant and sea turtle migration data. “To protect animals you need to protect where they go,” said Archie Carr, one of the pioneer sea turtle trackers, when asked about the reason for tracking wild animals. The ocean has a number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect habitats and migration routes from fishing and shipping routes. Sea turtle tracking supports animal welfare by showing scientists the amount of ocean area that needs to be protected to save these species from extinction. In the article, Uberti highlights the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Exeter and their project, seaturtle.org, to track loggerhead sea turtles. The resulting maps created from seaturtle data, are visually stunning and easy to read, I’ve thought about these maps multiple times since the article came out. For my map, I chose to use data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), because it was more straightforward and easier to work with. Even though the data is from 2005 and 2009-11 and is already plotted on maps on the website, I wanted to see if I could successfully map data as well. Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the second smallest sea turtle species at about 2.5 feet.

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