Meet Our Field Biologists: Jenell Black

Have you ever wondered what daily life is like for a sea turtle biologist? We invite you to meet our sea turtle biologists!

We are so grateful for the many sandy miles our biologists walked at all hours of the night during the 2015-2016 nesting season. Together, we're creating a future for sea turtles. 

Learn about more opportunities to get involved.

Jenell Black

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Degree: B.S. in Biology, Drexel University; Current Master's Student in Biology at IPFW

What attracted you to this field position?

I’ve been passionate about herps since I was a child. I spent hours in my backyard picking up any snake, lizard, or frog I happened across. I grew up watching Steve Irwin, and documentaries about wildlife. Now I’m living in present time Jurassic Park, working with living dinosaurs. It’s a dream come true.

Tell us a little bit about your research.

I’m looking at the habitat preferences of Crocodylus acutus (American crocodile) in a natural mangrove estuary, and nesting characteristics. I’m recording salinity and temperature points throughout the local estuary and recording where, when, and size class of animals that are found. I’m also looking at utilizing a quadcopter drone for surveying purposes, and comparing that to diurnal and night surveys.

What is the best part of your job?

The reptiles are a given, they’re what brought me here. I also really enjoy the connections I make down here. This project pulls in scientists from all over the place, and Earthwatch brings in volunteers from all over the world. I have established connections both professionally and personally that have helped me grow as a scientist, and a person.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?


If you were a sea turtle what kind would you be?

I’d be a black turtle, since they’re determined to have things just right no matter how long it takes. Practice makes perfection.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mint chocolate chip.

Describe Costa Rica in three words.

Pura vida (I cheated), biodiversity, dinosaurs.