A detection dog sniffs out sea turtle nests

Could dogs help locate hard-to-find sea turtle eggs?

It isn’t easy counting sea turtle nests. Surveyors can spend hours searching for the eggs, which are sometimes buried three feet deep in the sand. But researchers discovered that for at least one species—the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)—a detection dog in Florida was much more accurate and more efficient than its human counterpart.

But the results were based on just one dog, researchers cautioned. “Additional research is needed with multiple detection dogs and handlers,” they wrote.

But, as we explored in the March/April issue of The Wildlife Professional, detection dogs have been successfully deployed for all kinds of conservation purposes—from finding invasive species to sniffing out disease. Finding sea turtle eggs may be just one more.

Read the study in PLOS ONE.

Header Image: A detection dog discovers a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting site. Credit: Lindborg et al., 2023, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)