Notes from the Field - March 2021

Hello! My name is Natalie Monnier, and I am a Biological Science Technician with the National Park Service on Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. In 2017, I was a sea turtle intern at Bald Head Island Conservancy which was where I tagged my first turtle and discovered my passion for working with sea turtles. After leaving the Conservancy, I worked with turtles in St. Croix, Antigua, and Texas. This year marks my third season on North Padre Island, where I work as a nesting team lead. Our sea turtle team patrols the beach in search of nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, a critically endangered species. When we find nesting turtles we document, tag, and protect their nests by relocating them to our incubation facility.

During the recent winter storms in Texas this February, my team and I were also a part of a massive effort to save thousands of sea turtles affected by the cold water. This is known as a cold stun event and can happen when water temperatures go below 50° F. When this occurs sea turtles heart rates slow and they can go into hypothermic shock, making it difficult for them to move. If cold temperatures are severe it can eventually lead to death. This specific event was the largest cold stun ever recorded with over 12,500 sea turtles affected. Different organizations, volunteers, and rehabilitation facilities came together to aid during this unprecedented time.

My first internship after graduating college was with the Bald Head Island Conservancy and this experience shaped who I am as a biologist today. I took with me the knowledge and training I received from BHIC and applied that to other projects and programs. I didn’t know after my last night patrol on Bald Head whether I would ever work with sea turtles again, but I’m happy to say that it was just the beginning. 
 
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