Meet Our Field Biologists: Dana Neel

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 2016-2017 nesting season. Together, we're creating a future for sea turtles. 

Learn about more opportunities to get involved.

Dana Neel

Hometown: Grass Valley, CA

Degree: B.S. Marine Biology, UCSC

What attracted you to this field position?

Growing up I worked a number of jobs with kids, and after graduation, I easily stepped into a role as a Marine Science Instructor. I learned a lot at that job and loved the adventure involved, but I wanted to give research a try. This is my first hands on field position and with the techniques I’ve learned and the opportunity to travel, it’s been a real blast!

Describe your typical day on the job.

Our days start around 10:30 as we all roll out of bed after a nightly patrol. After breakfast at Kike's, our daily schedule depends on the previous night's work and the rotating hatchery check and temps walks. Some days we have excavations, where we dig up hatched nests and collect emergence data, other days we have triangulations on in-situ nests. On our quiet days, we take two different approaches - we either hole up in the Station and avoid the sun at all costs, or we spend as much time outside as possible, snorkeling, playing soccer, or just walking the beach.

What is the best part of your job?

There's not a lot about this job that I don't like so I’m hard pressed to answer what my favorite part is. I really enjoy the nightly patrols when its a quiet beach and you can sit and enjoy the moon over the water. Bonding with the team over pool games at Kike's and finding ways to entertain ourselves has been a blast. I’d have to say the field team has made this an amazing experience so far.

How has your experience inspired you?

The people I’ve met down here have all inspired me in different ways. It's a well rounded team of nerdy and athletic and all around fun! It's been different for me to be surrounded by so many aspiring scientists as opposed to educators. I think this position has really opened up my eyes for what's next for me.

What has been the funniest moment thus far?

Honestly, with this team, there are too many to count. Each individual has their personal quirks and they’ve added up to lots and lots of laughter.

Describe Costa Rica in three words.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful... Costa Rica