Snapping Turtles – Capturing Clues

Snapping Turtles – Capturing Clues

Ambience: snapping turtle hiss

Hopkins: Couple things about snappers. They’ve got really sharp nails and a really fast bite.
[Turtles hissing] You can hear ’em hissing there.

Snapping Turtles are not exactly a critter you’d want to cuddle up to, but they’re teaching us invaluable lessons about the environment. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Bill Hopkins is an associate professor of fish and wildlife conservation at VA Tech.

Hopkins: Much of my research program here at the university focuses on the health of female wildlife and how that influences the health of their babies. So I’m really interested in reproduction and how things that we as humans do to the environment might influence reproductive processes in various wildlife species. And so, we study this process in turtles, for example, by coming out to the field, capturing wild turtles in their normal environment, and then we collect the eggs from those turtles. We never harm the turtles during this process. We collect those eggs. We incubate them in a controlled environment. We determine how much of these pollutants things like mercury, things like PCBs are transferred to the eggs and whether or not that influences hatching success, early development, performance, and so forth. So, we’ve got some traps set here today. These are hoop traps that we bait. These don’t harm the turtle. They’re just sort of a passive trap that the turtle will actually enter, and then they can’t get out of. We check these daily.
Hopkins: As the turtle swims around, it just causes that trap to rock a little bit. I’m very confident there are turtles in that particular trap.

Yeah. There you go. Looks like maybe at least three snapping turtles. That’s good.

(splash) Come here, buddy. You can see why they call them snapping turtles.
[Turtle snapping]
You wouldn’t want that to be your finger.

We’ll hear more about snapping turtles in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation; I’m Jim Metzner.

Snapping Turtles - Capturing Clues

Snapping turtles are teaching us invaluable lessons about the effects of toxins on the environment.
Air Date:12/07/2015
Scientist:
Transcript:

Snapping Turtles - Capturing Clues

Ambience: snapping turtle hiss

Hopkins: Couple things about snappers. They've got really sharp nails and a really fast bite.
[Turtles hissing] You can hear 'em hissing there.

Snapping Turtles are not exactly a critter you'd want to cuddle up to, but they're teaching us invaluable lessons about the environment. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Bill Hopkins is an associate professor of fish and wildlife conservation at VA Tech.

Hopkins: Much of my research program here at the university focuses on the health of female wildlife and how that influences the health of their babies. So I'm really interested in reproduction and how things that we as humans do to the environment might influence reproductive processes in various wildlife species. And so, we study this process in turtles, for example, by coming out to the field, capturing wild turtles in their normal environment, and then we collect the eggs from those turtles. We never harm the turtles during this process. We collect those eggs. We incubate them in a controlled environment. We determine how much of these pollutants things like mercury, things like PCBs are transferred to the eggs and whether or not that influences hatching success, early development, performance, and so forth. So, we've got some traps set here today. These are hoop traps that we bait. These don't harm the turtle. They're just sort of a passive trap that the turtle will actually enter, and then they can't get out of. We check these daily.
Hopkins: As the turtle swims around, it just causes that trap to rock a little bit. I'm very confident there are turtles in that particular trap.

Yeah. There you go. Looks like maybe at least three snapping turtles. That's good.

(splash) Come here, buddy. You can see why they call them snapping turtles.
[Turtle snapping]
You wouldn't want that to be your finger.

We'll hear more about snapping turtles in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation; I'm Jim Metzner.