Scientific Partnership: SCCF and FSW Lab Join Forces for Environmental Study

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) has teamed up with Florida SouthWestern State College professor Jordan Donini’s lab to conduct research on snakes and turtles.

The projects aim to investigate the various diseases and parasites that affect the local herpetofauna.


One of the projects is focused on pentastomes, parasitic arthropods that inhabit the respiratory systems of reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Elyse Martin, a student of Donini, is working to validate different methods of detecting pentastomes in snakes, such as complete blood count, X-ray, ultrasound, and PCR testing, which detects genetic material.

The SCCF is collecting road-killed snakes and sending them to the lab, where necropsies are performed.

Parasites found in snakes after dissection.

According to SCCF biologist Mike Mills, they advocate for drivers to brake for snakes and avoid hitting them.

They are also turning tragedy into hope by using the road-killed snakes to gather valuable data that could help save snakes in the future.

Ranaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause mass die-offs in fish, amphibians, and reptiles, including box turtles.

The SCCF is conducting research on box turtles by collecting oral and cloacal swabs from Sanibel’s and Captiva’s box turtle populations and sending the samples to the FSW lab to test for any ranaviruses and other pathogens.

According to SCCF biologist Mike Mills, understanding the health of the box turtle population is crucial in conserving them.

Therefore, if you spot a box turtle, take a picture and notify the SCCF at 239-472-3984 or [email protected].

When Do Sea Turtles Begin Traveling? 

Sea turtles embark on a lifelong journey that begins with their first frenzied swim to the sea.

During the nesting season, thousands of female sea turtles come to the shore to make nests, lay their eggs, and leave as soon as the work is done.

After a long incubation period, hatchlings emerge from the fertile eggs.

However, the land is not a safe place for sea turtle babies, and their instincts tell them to reach the sea as soon as possible.

The first 48 hours after emerging from the nest are critical for baby sea turtles. Many hatchlings become victims of predators on the seashore while trying to reach the water.

After facing many hardships, the surviving sea turtle hatchlings finally reach the water.

Unfortunately, they still face predators like dolphins, sharks, and killer whales, and around 50 to 60 percent of sea turtle babies and juveniles die every year.

As a result, the rest of the sea turtles must constantly move around to stay safe in the sea.

Male sea turtles never return to the land once they enter the sea.

However, when female hatchlings mature, they return to their nesting place to lay their eggs, continuing the lifelong journey of sea turtles. Learn more here, How Far Do Sea Turtles Travel?

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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