Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Giant Tortoise Experiment | Hana Hou! Magazine

I had an awesome time meeting with David and Lida Burney over in Makauwahi, Kauai to photograph their giant tortoise experiments for Hana Hou! The Hawaiian Airlines Magazine. The large-scale experiments test the hypothesis that tortoises would naturally eat the invasive weeds in native plant restorations, taking the place of Kauai’s extinct turtle-jawed moa nalo (a giant flightless duck). Burney says, “They effectively control the weeds, don’t hurt our native trees and shrubs, and incidentally provide fertilizer and seed germination services." I loved spending time with these prehistoric African Spurred Tortoises and learning about their interesting research.

UH intern Ron O'Brien holds an African Spurred Tortoise Geochelone Sulcata to measure its weight while David Burney reads the scale in the rain.

Children meet Cal during a field trip to the native plant habitat.

The foot of an African Spurred Tortoise Geochelone Sulcata

Measuring the plastron of an African Spurred Tortoise

African Spurred Tortoise and African Leopard Tortoise Shells

A tortoise eats leaves during a feeding trial at the native plant habitat in Makauwahi

Kids reach out to pet African Spurred Tortoise, Cal

David Burney and Ron O'Brien weigh a giant tortoise

UH intern Marie McKenzie, places Hoboware sensors on an African Spurred Tortoises shell to measures motion and solar radiation, basically to see how hot the tortoises are when they move.

The largest and oldest African Spurred Tortoise, Cal, munches on weeds as he walks through the native plant habitat in Makauwahi, Kauai.

Interns Marie and Rob weigh giant tortoises

Munching on weeds

Marie takes notes during a feeding trial

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