Area college students recently had a unique, up-close look at sea turtles as they photographed their recovery at a center on Jekyll Island.
The assignment was part of the commercial photography program at North Georgia Technical College. Five students, including instructors Jeff Gulle, Ginger Moseley and Jim Loring, observed the creatures at the Georgia Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
“This trip provided our students the opportunity to experience medical photography of marine life. They also got documentary photography as they photographed personnel working,” Gulle said.
The center’s staff primarily consists of volunteers from Americorp but does have some intermittently paid positions. The students spent a day watching as the team diagnosed and rehabilitated several of the rescued turtles.
One turtle, named Al, had lost its ability to dive and was constantly buoyant. Without the ability to dive, sea turtles are unable to get food. The team had been working with Al for over a year and plan to release him in the spring when the waters warm up.
“At the Turtle Center, the first thing we all realized was turtles are cool. They are so tranquil and relaxing. Many of us just watched and stopped taking photos,” Gulle said.”The tiny, baby turtles under the heat lamp climbing over each other were many of the students’ favorites.”
Another turtle photographed by the students was Sunburst, who was struck by a boat propeller. The accident had mangled part of his shell, and after much healing, he is now getting close to being released.
The center, which opened its doors in June 2007, had more than 15 sea turtles that were undergoing various treatments. A majority of the turtles are found stranded off the Georgia coast. Most, like Freedom, who was found in July, are treated and released.
Gulle said the trip took place over a recent break between the summer and fall quarters at the technical college. The students also spent a week exploring and photographing Tybee, Cumberland and St. Simons islands.
“While (on Cumberland) we experienced wild horses and armadillos in addition to the Dungeness ruins and an incredible hike,” Gulle said.
Photographs taken by the students will be used for publications and advertisements during the year to help give them professional exposure.
Gulle said the students hope to return to the center when the center releases the turtles into the wild this spring.