LONGMEADOW – Adam Wiatrowski, a rising eighth-grader at St. Mary’s Academy in Longmeadow, was accepted as a 2017 JASON Argonaut, and he will travel to Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas this month to tag and track Green Sea Turtles.
Adam was selected, along with four other students and five teachers from over 1,000 international candidates.
JASON was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered the location of the Titanic. The program provides curriculum and learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for K-12 students, and high-quality professional development for teachers. Each student and teacher Argonaut applies through a highly-competitive and rigorous selection process, submitting an extensive array of background information that provides testament to their character, dedication, academic abilities, communication skills, and most importantly, enthusiasm for science.
Argonauts work hard to document and share their expedition experiences with the world, and with their communities back home. Each Argonaut takes photos, shoots video clips, and contributes to JASON’s blog.
Green sea turtles and their habitats are in trouble. Adam will participate in a program that will help researchers and the government create plans that will protect the right habitats from development.
Even though the Bahamian government has made it illegal to catch green sea turtles in the country’s waters, to save these endangered species from further decline, researchers need to ensure their habitats are protected from coastal development.
In their juvenile years, sea turtles primarily feed on the seagrass found in shallow waters. Although scientists know that these habitats are critical for young turtles, they don’t know exactly how and why turtles choose them and move between them.
The seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove creeks, where young turtles find food, vary in size, types of vegetation, presence of predators, and a host of other features. Presumably, turtles forage in habitats with the most optimal conditions.
The JASON Argonaut team will help answer this crucial question by monitoring the abundance of turtles in different areas and tracking the physical features of habitats that attract the most turtles.
Additionally, they will also help determine shark abundance to assess predation risk in different areas.
Adam has always been interested in the field of marine science. His interest was sparked at a very young age while visiting Mystic Aquarium and learning about Dr. Ballard and his ocean research missions. He even had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ballard, who suggested that he apply for the program.
In addition to his regular curriculum of school work, Adam completed several units of the JASON program curriculum independently. He hopes to someday become a marine biology researcher and explorer. You can follow Adam’s mission on social media by searching JASON learning.