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Saving Sea Turtles



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Educational Technology
--Applied Math
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--Physical Science
----Earth Science
Social Studies
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Grades 2-up

News Content

A sea turtle center in Georgia is working hard to save sea turtles and educate people.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, share with students a map that shows the location of Jekyll Island, Georgia. In addition, you might share these facts about the island:

  • At 5,700 acres (9 square miles), Jekyll Island is the smallest of Georgia's barrier islands.
  • The island is located south of St. Simons Island and north of Cumberland Island.
  • The first occupants of the island were probably small groups of Native American hunter-gatherers (circa 2,500 B.C.).
  • This timeline (scroll down the page to view the timeline) shares more important dates in Jekyll Island history.
  • News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: physical therapy, patients, capture, rescue, and device. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The doctors waiting room was full of _____. (patients)
  • Emergency workers had to _____ four passengers in a car that had been swept up by floodwaters. (rescue)
  • My Uncle Paul got lost on his way to the beach even though his car has a GPS _____. (device)
  • Once Saras broken leg heals, she will need to undergo weeks of _____ before she is back to normal. (physical therapy)
  • When Pacos puppy got out of the house, he had a tough time trying to _____ it. (capture)
  • Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Saving Sea Turtles.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Stranded sea turtles are often found along Atlantic coast beaches. While most are dead, a small but increasing number are still alive. When found, they are transported to sea turtle rescue centers such as the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) on Jekyll Island. The center opened in June 2007.
  • Pumpkin, a loggerhead sea turtle, arrived at the GSTC shortly after she was rescued by a boater in North Floridas Pumpkin Hill Creek on October 16, 2008. Pumpkin was near comatose, covered with thousands of leeches, and unable to completely open her mouth. She was also unable to dive normally and had vision issues with her right eye. [See a CNN video report about Pumpkins arrival at the GSTC.]
  • The GSTC team has been giving Pumpkin physical therapy in an effort to re-teach her to open her mouth wide. At latest report, Pumpkins activity level had increased substantially and she has begun to eat on her own. Soon a veterinary opthamologist will evaluate her eye condition.
  • Dylan was a straggler hatchling rescued from a nest on Jekyll Island on August 26, 1998. Dylan has spent most of her life since then at the Atlanta Aquarium. Workers there recently sent Dylan to the GSTC so the center could teach Dylan skills she would need to survive in the wild. On June 29, 2008, GSTC workers fitted Dylan with flipper tags and a satellite transmitter so that her whereabouts in the months ahead could be tracked. She was successfully released the next day, June 30. [See video of the release.]
  • Jekyll Island is an ideal site for a sea turtle rehabilitation center. The island is a significant nesting site for sea turtles.
  • The Georgia Sea Turtle Center offers exhibits on sea turtle conservation, rehabilitation, and sea turtle life from egg to adulthood.
  • Some former patients at the GSTC include the success stories below:

  • Bastille, a juvenile Kemps ridley sea turtle, arrived at the GSTC on July 14, 2008, with a fish hook embedded in her tongue. The turtle was sedated, the hook was removed, the wound was treated, and the turtle was put on a round of antibiotics and pain killers. She was released from the center on October 4, 2008. Because of her small size she was not given a satellite transmitter.
  • Bevelyn, a loggerhead sea turtle, was found on July 21, 2006, floating in the St. Andrews Sound in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon arrival at the GSTC, Bev was unable to open her jaws properly. The GSTC team used innovative physical therapy techniques to rehabilitate Bev. She recovered from her illness much more quickly than expected and was ready for release in November 2007.
  • Charlotte, a juvenile green sea turtle, was found stranded on Cumberland Island, just south of Jekyll Island, in January 2008. The GSTC team removed a heavy load of barnacles from her shell only to discover that those barnacles had been growing inside an old wound made by a boat propeller. A CT scan and MRI showed that she was suffering from a vertebral bone fracture that was compressing her spine and causing partial paralysis of her hind flippers and affecting her stomachs proper function. Once Charlotte recovered she was relocated by plane in November 2008 to her new home at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

  • You can read more stories online about former GSTC patients.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • What kind of sea turtle was Pumpkin? (a loggerhead)
  • Where was Pumpkin found? (in a Florida creek)
  • Why had Pumpkin lost so much weight? (she could not properly open her mouth in order to eat)
  • What are some of the hazards that sea turtles face as they swim along the coast? (boats might hit them, fishing nets might snare them, trash might harm them)
  • What was the name of the turtle that Dr. Norton recently returned to the sea? (Dylan)
  • Why did the Atlanta Aquarium send Dylan to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center? (workers at the center would teach her skills -- for example, how to capture prey -- that she would need when returned to the wild)
  • Why did GSTC workers attach a tracking device to Dylan? (so they could track her movement; make sure she was doing ok after being released)
  • Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Science turtle species. Arrange students into four groups. Assign each group one of these sea turtle species:

  • green sea turtle
  • hawksbill sea turtle
  • leatherback sea turtle
  • loggerhead sea turtle
  • Have students realistically color one of the coloring pages for their turtle on the Web site of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Then give each group some 3- x 5-inch cards and ask them to write facts -- one fact to a card -- about the turtle they researched. Display on a bulletin board the best of the student-colored images and surround the images with the appropriate fact cards.

    Language arts vocabulary. Introduce students to some more sea turtle vocabulary in the word box on this Sea Turtle Word Search. Then have students solve the puzzle.

    Geography track a turtle. Transmitters often fall off sea turtles. At the current time, only one of the GSTCs released turtles is being actively tracked. Learn more about this turtle, Gale, a loggerhead, on the GSTCs former patients page. She continues to be tracked on the Satellite Tracking Page: Gale of the Web site. On this site you can view an animated map of Gales latest movements and you can sign up to receive future email updates of her movements. Students might map her future movements on this Southeast U.S. outline map. Or each student/group might choose a different turtle to track from the Satellite Tracking page. The site offers additional classroom activities on their Teacher Resources page.

    Geography map key. Older students might use a map key to determine how many miles Dylan has traveled from Jekyll Island to her most recent recorded position 250 miles west of the southernmost tip of the Florida mainland. (Note: We roughly estimate she traveled about 325 miles to the southern mainland tip of Florida, then another 250 miles west into the Gulf of Mexico, for a total of about 575 miles. That mileage assumes a straight-line trip, even though we know from Dylans tracking map that she did not travel in a direct straight line.)


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Measurement
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-MEA.PK-2.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-MEA.3-5.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-MEA.6-8.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-MEA.9-12.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement

    MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions

    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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