Episode 37 – Tagging Sea Turtles 

In this episode, Duke Marine Lab students Claire Helgerson, Kendra Rentz, and Anna de Hostos explore the processes by which researchers tag sea turtles to track migratory patterns and learn more about their somewhat mysterious life histories. Through interviews with various researchers, they discuss the methods of managing, processing and sharing tagging data in several sea turtle databases.  Part of our Sea Turtles series.

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Kendra Rentz head shot

Kendra Rentz is a sophomore at Duke University studying environmental science. She interned with the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative over this past summer and plans to get involved with climate science research at Duke during the coming year. She is also part of the Duke Cheerleading team and enjoys hiking in her free time! 

Anna de Hostos head shot

Anna de Hostos is a junior at Yale University studying biology and environmental science. As part of the Duke University Marine Lab community she has been studying the biology and conservation of sea turtles and doing research on cyanobacterial growth across a trophic gradient. Anna has a passion for the ocean as she grew up tidepooling in the San Francisco Bay and enjoys SCUBA diving in the reefs of the Caribbean when she visits her family in Puerto Rico


Claire Helgerson head shot

Claire Helgerson is a member of Duke University’s class of 2025 studying biology and public policy. At Duke, she is a member of an interdisciplinary Bass Connections project studying the Bioremediation of Plastic Pollution and the efficacy of the Clean Air Act, and gives tours for prospective students. In her free time, Claire enjoys running, baking (with a specialty in vegan treats) and water skiing.


Featured Interviews

Joe Pfaller completed his Ph.D. in Biology with the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida (UF) in 2016, while working for and being supported by CRP. He has been CRP’s Research Director since 2011, but started working with the project as a volunteer at the age of 15 (1998). As the Research Director, Joe uses CRP’s long-term database to estimate demographic information for the loggerhead turtles that nest on Wassaw Island. These data are critical to accurately monitoring the population and for understanding how human activities including conservation actions, might drive changes in the population. More broadly, Joe’s research seeks to highlight how methodological biases affect biological interpretations in capture-mark-recapture data. 


Stephen Dunbar is the director of graduate biology programs and a biology professor at Loma Linda University. After pursuing a bachelor in science at Walla Walla college he went on to get a bachelor in education. His career began in teaching science to high school students before going on to pursue higher education that took him to various countries around the world. Through his travels Dr. Dunbar was introduced to the world of sea turtle conservation. His work was focused in Honduras, where he worked with local and international partners to create a national sea turtle management and conservation strategy. In 2002 Dr. Dunbar returned to teaching where he has been ever since, sharing his insights with the future generations of conservationists.



Dr. Justin Perrault, Director of Research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), oversees the nest monitoring and research tagging programs at LMC. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a PhD in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University. After completing his doctorate, Dr. Perrault completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with Mote Marine Laboratory and was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida. Dr. Perrault has 15 years of experience working with sea turtles in the laboratory and field and has published over 45 papers on marine biology, health, and toxicology, with a particular focus on sea turtles. 



Matthew Godfrey head shot

Matthew Godfrey is a wildlife biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. He is also adjunct faculty at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University (Marine Lab) and the Department of Clinical Sciences of the College of Veterinary Medicine at NCSU. He has worked on sea turtle biology and conservation issues for several decades.


Kelly Steward head shot

Kelly Stewart is a research scientist with the Ocean Foundation and is adjunct faculty at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University (Marine Lab). Kelly collaborates widely with various groups on research related to sea turtle ecology and conservation, and is passionate about contributing to training and mentoring of students who collaborate on different research projects.