Snake Research


Recently, I developed a new snake-focused research programme at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas. Our understanding of Bahamian snakes is fairly limited and we have yet to answer many basic ecological questions. The goal of the project is to answer some of these questions and provide a better our understanding of the local snake populations by investigating the abundance and mortality, population dynamics, diet, reproductive morphology and parasite prevalence of the different snake species on Eleuthera. Additionally, we are investigating the use of automated pattern recognition software to reliably distinguish between individuals in the field and offer a non-invasive option for mark-recapture studies.

Together with partners from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Western Connecticut State University, University of North Carolina Asheville, Whittier College, Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre and the Bahamas National Trust we aim to improve our knowledge and promote the conservation of these spectacular national treasures.

Sadly, we’re finding an alarming number of dead snakes which is a direct result of a distinct aversion towards these animals in The Bahamas. For that reason, we initiated a snake education programme to engage with the local communities and teach people about snakes and how important they are, to ensure their protection in the long term.

Find out more about the research project here and my public outreach here.

Using their unique colour/scale patterns we can tell individual snakes apart.
The reproductive organs, or hemipenes, of a Bahamas boa (above) and a Bahamian racer (below).

Sea Turtle Research


Additionally, I am helping to run the sea turtle research programme initiated by Dr. Nathan J. Robinson. We monitor local sea turtle populations to get information on growth rates and population dynamics and also investigate the benefits and potential impacts of animal-borne cameras and drones for turtle research and conservation. Using TurtleCams, dive cameras attached to the carapace of the sea turtle, we can get about 4 hours of POV footage which enables us to understand how sea turtles:

1) use their habitat and which areas are essential
2) interact with their biotic and abiotic environment
3) react to stress and how long a stress response persists.

On top of that, we use drones to assess their value for sea turtle monitoring and behavioural research and to uncover potentially negative effects of animal-borne cameras and drones on sea turtles.

Equipped with a TurtleCam, this sea turtle will give us a sneak peek into its life.
Tough life! Scanning Eleuthera's stunning creeks for sea turtles.

 

Here you can see one of nature’s most spectacular defensive behaviours displayed by a snake.

To find out more, have a look at my blog post.

To the blog post

Time for a break!

Switch off and enjoy life through the eyes a Bahamian sea turtle.

Check out the CNN’s Mission Wild episode on our sea turtle research in The Bahamas.

To find out more, have a look at my blog post.

To the blog post