The End of an Era

It’s hard to believe that it’s finally over.

The canoes have been put back on the rack, the crab traps have been cleaned and stacked in the shed, and my dirty, filthy tennis shoes have been thrown in the trash. Thus ends a glorious summer spent on the York River.

I have some mementos, however. This dark farmer’s tan will be a constant reminder, at least until winter. I have a few new scars on my hands. I have a thriving brackish-water aquarium in the lab. And let’s not forget the massive amount of data I collected.

The results were quite interesting. Holly and I caught and measured more than 2800 crabs this summer, in addition to the 28 turtles we were seeking. If you recall, we were testing regular crab traps against two versions of a Bycatch Regulation Device (BRD) to determine the most effective method of keeping turtles out of traps. We found that we caught 22 turtles in the traps without a BRD, and 3 each in the traps with a BRD. Even before running statistical analyses, it’s evident that the BRDs were very effective at preventing turtles from being trapped. Another important consideration is whether or not the BRDs prevented crabs from entering, both by volume and size. The amount of crabs caught in every trap type were very comparable, and the BRD traps had an average crab size of only 1mm smaller – pretty insignificant.

Overall, it was quite a successful experiment. We gathered lots of useful data, and the cherry on top is that it supports the use of BRDs to prevent turtle death. The next step is to write a paper and get it published! Wish me luck!