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Wildlife Wednesday: Meet Captain Ron—a Sea-Turtle-Egg-Detection Dog!

Blair Witherington

by , Senior Sea Turtle Biologist

I love to share inspiring conservation stories, and this is one of those! It’s a fun and engaging way that Disney’s Conservation Team is protecting sea turtles and spreading the word about their conservation.

You may have caught a glimpse of this cutie in our Tour de Turtles recap video last Wednesday. Meet Captain Ron, a 2-year-old pocket beagle who is full of energy and warmly greets everyone he meets. He’s not shy about jumping up to lick you, and if you’re like me, you’ll immediately fall in love with this little guy.

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But he is not just cute and cuddly—Captain Ron has a greater purpose in life. He helps us protect sea turtles! Captain Ron has been specially trained to find eggs in fresh sea turtle nests. With his super-sensitive nose, he can sniff out the thin layer of clear mucus left on eggs buried in the beach. This detection skill helps us find eggs and mark nests so they can remain undisturbed on our beaches. We are so happy to have Captain Ron on our sea turtle conservation team! Sea turtle nests are vulnerable to many threats on the beach, and if we can’t detect the eggs, we can’t protect them from predators and disturbance.

To a person, a sea turtle nest looks like a big pile of sand on the beach. We can look at that sand to visually judge where a turtle has buried her eggs, but a dog can scan that same nest with his nose. A good nose can take in essential cues that remain even when the visual signs are obscured and cut egg-finding times from 30 minutes to about 30 seconds.

Pepe Peruyero, Captain Ron’s trainer, believes that Captain Ron really enjoys his work. Watching Captain Ron on the beach, we could not agree more! What a wonderful balance between conservation work and outreach for sea turtles! While he’s on the job, Captain Ron allows guests the unique experience of seeing conservation efforts up close. In the off season, he can work as an ambassador for conservation, serving as a bridge between people and the natural world we are striving so hard to protect. We will keep you updated if Captain Ron makes any appearances in the near future.

In the meantime, see Captain Ron in action in the video below! (Caution: prepare to have your heart stolen!)

*It requires a special permit to handle sea turtles and sea turtle eggs. Please don’t attempt to handle them without proper training and permission.

Comments

  • James’ wife here – Captain Ron, what a cutey! Dogs, not just “man’s” best friend, turtles too!

    <3WDW!

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