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Reptile Refuge

UCF to build a permanent sea turtle conservation research facility in Brevard County.

Fall 2016
Baby sea turtle crawls on the sand as it emerges from nest
UCF and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reached an agreement to establish a permanent conservation research facility in Brevard County, Florida. UCF research was instrumental in the founding of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in 1991, and since its inception, the university has used the refuge as a base to monitor sea turtles and their nests 24 hours a day. The new agreement allows UCF to build a new facility at the refuge that will not only protect research equipment and house workers overnight, but also foster collaborations with visiting scientists and international research partners. 
UCF researchers hold a juvenile turtle that has a tracking device on its back
The beaches we monitor represent the most important nesting beaches in the Western Hemisphere. We encounter more nests in our study area in one night than most U.S. nesting beaches see in an entire season.”

— Kate Mansfield (center), assistant professor and director of the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group
holds a juvenile marine turtle (as part of permitted research) in the Gulf of Mexico with Gustavo Stalin and Katrina Phillips.
A UCF researcher waits in the background as a turtle covers some recently laid eggs with sand
$5 million
Amount of money UCF must raise in the next five years to build new research facilities

Number of sea turtle nests found in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in 2015

Years since the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group was founded

Miles of Brevard County seashore UCF researchers monitor every year

Number of sea turtle species found in the U.S., all of which are endangered or threatened 
UCF researcher removes a sea turtle hatchling that didn’t emerge from a nest
The UCF Marine Turtle Research Center conducts hundreds of nest inventories each season, evaluating how many eggs hatched in a nest, how many of those hatchlings emerged, and how far along in development the unhatched eggs proceeded. Often, as in this photo, they find hatchlings that didn’t emerge from the nest, which they take back to the facility and release later that night.
A young sea turtle swims with the ocean with a tracking device attached to its device
UCF researchers place satellite trackers on hatchlings to better understand where sea turtles go, so marine scientists can learn more about their habits and habitats. Learn more about what they found.

To support sea turtle research at UCF, visit

Images courtesy of G. Stahelin and R. Chabot. All photos taken as part of permitted sea turtle research conducted by the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group.