Sea Turtle Scientist at work

Sea turtle scientist

80 pages; ages 10-14. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Sea Turtle Scientist (Scientist in the Field series)
By Stephen R. Swinburne
Leatherbacks have a tough life – only one egg out of a thousand will produce an adult sea turtle. Hatchlings no bigger than matchbox cars push themselves across the sand towards the ocean. If they’re lucky enough to make it without becoming a meal for some other animal, they’ve got more challenges in the sea.

In this book, Steve Swinburne takes readers to St. Kitts island, where Dr. Kimberly Stewart has spent her life studying the leatherback turtles. He takes you out into the field on a midnight search for nesting leatherbacks. There – in the red beam of Kimberly’s headlamp – it’s an 800-pound sea turtle.

“She shimmers as the last of the seawater runs off her huge frame,” writes Swinburne. “Facing away from the sea, the female leatherback uses her three-foot-long front flippers to throw sand.” Finally the female leatherback begins to drop her eggs – “…wet, gleaming white eggs the size of billiard balls…” and one of the turtle-watchers races to count them.

Swinburne not only tells a great story about science-in-action, but he uses language that makes science come alive – language that can serve as a model for students writing about science for an assignment. There are plenty of sidebars, a chapter on how a community came together to save the turtles, and even a list of “must-haves” for your Turtle-Watching Toolkit. Backmatter includes a glossary, advice on how to adopt a sea turtle, list of resources, and an index. You can read more about the book here.

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