BY CHRIS POWERS
SC Staff Writer
Stef Sanders, an East Stroudsburg University alumna who graduated earlier in 2013, recently spent three and a half months in Costa Rica as a research assistant working with sea turtles.
This assistantship was spent in a small town called Playa Blanca on the Osa Peninsula.
Sanders applied for this position because of several of her professors at ESU. During her last semester of school, she traveled to Costa Rica for the Biology of Tropical Ecosystems class, taught by Dr. LaDuke, Dr. Master, and Dr. Whidden of the Biology Department.
According to Sanders, “My professors had a large impact on choosing to go [to Costa Rica]. If it weren’t for Biology of Tropical Ecosystems, I probably never would have gone at all.”
While in Costa Rica, Sanders worked with Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles.
According to Sanders, “We would go out on a boat and put out a net that was about fifty meters long, and then we would sit and wait for the turtles to get caught.”
When they caught a turtle, the procedure would differ depending upon what kind of turtle it was. If they caught a Green Turtle, they would take it back to the beach and measure the length and width of its tail, the carapace, and the plastron.
“We would put external tags on its front flippers and take a tissue sample from its rear flipper. If we had internal pit tags we would put them in as well,” said Sanders.
For Hawksbill Turtles, Sanders described a different procedure, saying, “If it was a Hawksbill we would keep it in the boat and bring it back to the rescue center to put in a freshwater tub for four hours, then we would take out a parasite from its flippers called a Stephanolepus, and then it worked like the Green and we released it.”
In addition to her work with turtles, Sanders worked on a mangrove restoration project and numerous beach clean-up projects on the Osa Peninsula.
When describing her time in Costa Rica, Sanders said, “It was the experience of a lifetime to be able to live in a different culture for three months and learn about them and their country. I also made some great friends I know I’ll never forget and I’m hoping I had at least a little impact on the conservation of sea turtles.”
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