UW Today

February 8, 2011

Follow the field work: researcher blogging about fishing tech and turtles

News and Information

Board plane, begin blog.

On her plane trip to Ecuador Wednesday, UW postdoctoral researcher Kiki Jenkins will write her first entry for the New York Times blog “Scientist at work: Notes from the Field.”

Kiki Jenkins compares a circle hook to a J-shaped hook. Both fish and turtles are less likely to swallow circle hooks. Photo credit: Debra Spencer

Kiki Jenkins compares a circle hook to a J-shaped hook. Both fish and turtles are less likely to swallow circle hooks. Photo credit: Debra Spencer

Shes not certain how long it will take the editors to turn it around, but keep a watch for her first blog entry and then expect about two blogs per week while shes conducting field work from now until March 23.

Jenkins, who is with the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, will be in Ecuador conducting research on the factors that cause fishermen to adopt, or not to adopt, equipment that can help sea turtles avoid being caught by fishing gear or cause them the least harm if they are caught.

Jenkins is investigating the use of two marine conservation technologies: circle hooks and turtle excluder devices. Circle hooks – as opposed to the more commonly seen J-shaped hooks – reduce the chance of sea turtles being hooked and, if they are, make it less likely that the hook is swallowed. Turtle excluder devices make it possible for turtles to escape from fishing nets.

A loop at the end of a dehooker can help remove a hook from the mouth of a turtle. Dehookers with even longer handles can remove hooks from turtles without bringing them on board, Kiki Jenkins explains. Photo credit: Debra Spencer

A loop at the end of a dehooker can help remove a hook from the mouth of a turtle. Dehookers with even longer handles can remove hooks from turtles without bringing them on board, Kiki Jenkins explains. Photo credit: Debra Spencer

The U.S. is a leader in developing conservation technologies and is attempting to spread them worldwide, but the acceptance has been mixed, Jenkins says. As a social scientist she will explore whether such equipment is difficult or expensive for Ecuadoran fishers to acquire, if its complicated or difficult to use, and what cultural, political and social factors determine if fishers adopt conservation technologies.

The “Scientist at work” blog was started last April as a “modern version of a field journal, a place for reports on the daily progress of scientific expeditions — adventures, misadventures, discoveries,” the New York Times says on its website.