It’s every scientist’s hope that their work will be relevant and useful to the world in some small way.
It’s also every Dad’s hope that their teenage son or daughter respect and occasionally recognize their existence ; )
I was pleased to accomplish both in a fleeting moment the other day when my daughter and friends reported after school that our research on sea turtle migration was among the required readings in the practice exam for the newly formatted SAT, a test taken by all college bound high school students.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the year-long effort to track the first animal swimming across an entire ocean via ARGOS satellite and Telonics transmitter.
We put the 368-day and 9,000-mile track online in 1996 at a time when sharing data in real time was considered “career suicide” and as a result millions of people around the world joined 'Adelita’s Journey' across the Pacific Ocean.
The article included in the SAT exam features the elegant good work of Drs. Nathan Putman and Ken Lohmann.
Through this project we learned and shared a lot about sea turtles, oceanography, social networking, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, persistence, and how to build a successful grassroots movement for ocean conservation.
We also learned how to swim through walls, perhaps the most valuable of all the lessons.
We’re all thrilled that millions of kids are learning both reading comprehension and science through our sea turtle research.
BBC/PBS Nature’s Voyage of the Lonely Turtle, a documentary based on Adelita’s migration, is available in its entirety online here.