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SharkCam to Get New Mission: Tracking Sea Turtles

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SharkCam is set to become TurtleCam.

Just over a year ago, SharkCam - an underwater vehicle equipped with five cameras and the ability to independently follow radio tags placed on sharks - took Discovery Channel's Shark Week by storm with dramatic video of being attacked by great white sharks.

Now, SharkCam is taking on a new mission: TurtleCam. It may not sound as thrilling, but the new target is nothing less than the largest and most exotic of all turtles - the leatherback.

The only living representative of its family, the leatherback has many distinguishing traits. They can grow to seven feet in length and more than 2,000 pounds. They have flexible, compressible, skin-covered carapaces thought to be important for dives as deep as three quarters of a mile, and they possess a thick fat layer and can maintain core body temperature above that of surrounding water. Perhaps most remarkable, leatherbacks do all this on a diet of jellyfish.

For all the amazing things we do know about leatherbacks, there's also plenty we don't know, and that's where TurtleCam comes in. Biologist Kara Dodge and engineer Amy Kukulya have teamed up to put the SharkCam technology to use gathering video of leatherback behavior.