Photo Credit: Flickr The University of Queensland
Sea turtles in swimsuits? While it may sound like the latest cartoon for kids, turtles are wearing swimsuit diapers in the name of scientific research.
Weird? Perhaps not as much as you might think, because collecting sea turtle poop in strong ocean currents is extremely challenging. Scientists, being the clever experts they are, came up with a perfect solution, and it’s made viewers across the Internet smile over its cuteness.
Owen Coffee, a biology PhD student at the University of Queensland, is researching the diet of endangered Australian loggerheads, and to do so, he needed to get his hands on a lots of turtle excrement. But the poo disperses quickly in water, even in tanks, which means it’s hard to catch the stuff before it fizzles away. At first, he tried outfitting the turtles’ tails with a flexible, turd-catching funnel, but the reptiles didn’t appreciate wearing the contraption and were quick to kick them off.
So, the next idea was the swimsuits, or special diapers, which are held in position with custom-designed swimsuits made from beachwear meant for humans.
In a release written by the University of Queensland, the experts explained, “The sleeves were removed, slits placed up the sides and the bottom sewn together in two places, leaving space for the turtle’s tail and the detachable fecal collector.”
And, this especially stylish scat gathering technique proved to be the most effective.
“After a few modifications, including Velcro-attachments for the ‘nappy’, we hoped we had the perfect solution to our unusual problem,” sea turtle researcher Kathy Townsend said in a statement. “To our great surprise, it worked perfectly. The suits were easy to put on, comfortable for the sea turtles to wear, looked great, and Owen was able to collect the entire fecal sample.”
It wasn’t just tiny turtles that were outfitted, but rather large ones too.
Photo Credit: Flickr/UQ