Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network Holds 2018 Meeting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Larry Wood, Ph.D.
Research Coordinator, National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation
The Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network (SERSTN) was formed a number of years ago to organize a domestically-located meeting on the years the annual International Sea Turtle Conference (ISTS) is held abroad. The southeast U.S. is a global ‘hub’ of sea turtle research and conservation that carries with it a large contingent of biologists, educators, students, and volunteers who often have difficulty in finding the time and/or financial resources to travel outside the Country. This spring, the international meeting was held in Kobe, Japan, which is quite a journey for many folks here in the U.S., so SERSTN’s meeting was a welcomed alternative.

Held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, “Swimming on a Changing Tide” was the meeting’s theme. A new generation of conservationists and scientists are leading the way with new and novel approaches to solving problems and answering tough questions, so a special session was created to highlight student research. Among those invited to speak was Ms. Liberty Boyd, a senior at Florida Atlantic University’s Honors College who presented her work on the epibiota of hawksbill sea turtles in partnership with the Florida Hawksbill Project. What’s epibiota you might ask? It’s all the plants and animals that make their home on some other plant or animal; in this case the barnacles, algae, coral, and other creatures that colonize the shells of hawksbill sea turtles.
FAU student Liberty Boyd gave a talk on the marine organisms associated with hawksbill turtles at the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo: D. Addison
Each of these critters have stories of their own to tell, and can reveal much about themselves and their turtle hosts. Her presentation was very well-received, and we are very proud of her work.

Altogether, over 300 registrants plus an excellent turnout from the public during the open-house event made the meeting a great success. Over 60 volunteers helped everything go smoothly, and the host venue was comfortable and accommodating. This would not have been possible without SERSTN’s Board of Directors, the great organizing committee they convened, and the many sponsors who contributed to its financial success. The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation is proud to have been the lead sponsor of the meeting, and we look forward to 2020!
SERSTN Board of Directors (L-R) Christi Hughes, Meghan Koperski, Sarah Milton (President), Kim Sonderman, and Terry Norton. Photo: D. Addison
Dr. Larry Wood presented a poster entitled “Managing the Long-Term Care of Captive Sea Turtles” which outlines a methodology for assessing and maintaining behavioral wellness in permanently captive sea turtles. Photo: J. Richardson

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