Behind the Image: A turn of turtles

The BMC Ecology Image Competition is back and in celebration, we kick off our 'Behind the image' blog series with the overall winner, Ana Carolina Lima. These young giant South American turtles will one day weigh up to 90kg and reach almost 110cm in shell length. Ana, a Ph.D. student from the University of Aveiro, Portugal, has captured a moment in which these juveniles were being counted, measured and weighed.


What is your profession?

I’m doing a Ph.D. in Biology and Ecology of Global Change at the University of Aveiro, Portugal.

What type of research are you involved in?

I am an aquatic ecologist with broad interests in conservation ecology, environmental impact and ecosystems management with emphasis on rivers associated with large dams. My research priority has been balancing the benefits of renewable resources represented by hydroelectric power, river fisheries, and biodiversity conservation. I have worked with fish communities affected by dams from different bioclimatic regions in Portugal, Brazil, and Canada.

Why did you become interested in this area of research?

Since I can remember, natural ecosystems have always fascinated me. It was a natural career choice becoming a biologist. When I realized how endangered our natural ecosystems were becoming I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in biology and ecology of global change. I am now increasingly interested in building bridges between science and policy-making, applying environmental legislation and participating in policy development.

How did you become interested in photography?

During the first years of University, I began to feel the urge to capture the beauty of the natural world around me. It later became a serious hobby and after a few photography courses, I carry my camera everywhere I go, whether it’s traveling for leisure or for work. I feel very lucky because being a researcher in ecology has allowed me to travel to natural places not many people have the opportunity to go.

Where and how was this photo taken?

This photo was taken in one of the most important areas of conservation for the Giant South American turtle (Podocnemis expansa), also known as the tartaruga-da-amazônia in the Cantão State Park, in Tocantins, Brazil. The Park is located in the Brazilian “Savanna” or Cerrado, a biodiversity hotspot that although it is yet poorly known it is thought to be equally or even more biodiverse than the Amazon ecosystem.

Why were you there at the time?

I was there as part of a research group working in the field and helping to collect data on the status of reptiles and amphibians’ populations for conservation purposes during my Ph.D.

Can you explain a bit more about the image?

This image is from a group of juveniles Giant South American turtles (Podocnemis expansa) which were being counted, measured and weighed during field-work for research purposes.

What about this scene particularly interested you?

This scene was fascinating because I was in the middle of field-work, helping other researchers to collect data, which made this moment really special, not only for the aesthetic part but also for the important conservation work we were doing.

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