it’s turtles all the way down

Snapping turtles are fairly widespread, from southeast Canada down the eastern US coast. However, their habitats are quickly disappearing and their aggressive behaviour makes them somewhat problematic to study (especially at night).

A group of biologists computer engineers at the University of Massachusetts have built a hardware and software platform that tracks the movement and habits of snapping turtles. The mobile platform, glued to each turtle (sorry, but it is common practice and can be more humane than radio collars), consists of a GPS unit, a solar panel, and antenna. The platform also contains a USB drive to keep a turtle-specific log of information.

For computer engineers, the idea behind the project is

a network of constantly moving devices that record and store information, transmit data from one device to another, then relay all the saved information to a central location while running on self-charging batteries.

“A lot of the existing technology works great as long as you’re not moving around and you have stable networks and people who could recharge batteries,” said Jacob Sorber, a doctoral candidate in computer science who designed the network he calls TurtleNet, a project funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.

From another site, check out live webcams of turtles, which combines nature and public participation in Japan.

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