Capturing snapping turtles on the ‘crittercam’

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Let’s play a game of hide and seek–with a snapping turtle.

Doesn’t seem fair does it? But when he goes in, this snapping turtle will tell us lots of useful things

According to Greg Marshall, who works with the National Geographic Society, you can “see from his perspective how he engages with nature, what he does, what it’s life’s history is like” from his shell.

The turtles are pretty common here, appearing in most bodies of water. But now, for the first time, the “crittercam” will give scientists at the Mystic Aquarium the chance to see how the snapping turtle lives in its habitat.

“It’s a research tool that gets us into the lives of the animals that we study,” Marshall said.

It’s a small, lightweight, GoPro-like device that is attached to the turtles’ backs.

The reason the camera is revolutionary is that a few years ago cameras were way to big to strap onto the turtles, but the new small ones don’t even bother the animal.

“We can now make systems that can be properly deployed on the animal. Ten years ago we couldn’t do this,” Marshall said.

The cameras can record up to eight hours of video. When the time is up, the camera detaches from the turtle and floats to the surface. Scientists find the cameras with sonar technology.

“It is unchartered territory,” Marshall said. “From a conservation, perspective you cannot protect the animal or know it even needs protection, unless we understand him.”

The information will give us clues on how they adapt.

“It’s simply information we cannot get any other way,” Marshall added.

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