Dr. Scott A. Eckert joined the Principia College Faculty in 2010 and serves as chair of the Biology and Natural Resources Department. He also serves as the Director of Science for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). As Director of Science for WIDECAST, a partner organization to the UN Caribbean Environment Programme, he advises Caribbean governments, University programs, and community-based conservation organizations on the science of sea turtle management. His current research focuses on the oceanic behavior and ecology of the leatherback sea turtle from numerous field sites in the U.S. (California, Florida), the Caribbean (e.g. Trinidad), Mexico, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Nova Scotia, as well as whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez and the Philippines. He maintains a long-term (20+ years) community-based conservation and research program at one of the largest nesting colonies of leatherbacks in the world on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. In recent years, he has served as graduate program advisor to students in the U.S., Barbados (University of the West Indies), Canada, México, and France on a wide variety of ecological and physiological thesis projects.
Dr. Eckert has been active for nearly three decades in the field of pelagic marine vertebrate research and conservation, focusing largely on sea turtles. He is world renowned for his expertise on leatherback turtles, studying the important role these wide-ranging oceanic reptiles play in the marine environment. He pioneered the use of microelectronics on sea turtles, was the first to have successfully used satellite telemetry to study the long-term movements and behaviors of leatherbacks and whale sharks, and was also the first to make the connection between the collapse of major sea turtle nesting aggregations and distant commercial fishing activity.
For his research, Dr. Eckert has received the Department of Commerce NOAA/ National Marine Fisheries Service Recognition Award for his “outstanding efforts in sea turtle conservation” (1984), the Antarctic Service Medal (1989), and a PhD in Zoology (1989) from the University of Georgia with a dissertation on Diving and Foraging Behavior of the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).
Dr. Eckert held a post-doctoral research appointment at the Physiological Research Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California–San Diego before joining the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1990 as Chairman of the U.S. Pacific Marine Turtle Recovery Team. In 1992, he left NMFS to join Hubbs–Sea World Research Institute as a senior research biologist, and from there was invited to relocate his research program to Duke University. His work on sea turtles and other large oceanic vertebrates such as whale sharks, has taken him to field sites throughout the tropical world, as well as two seasons in Antarctica to study the diving behavior and physiology of Weddell seals and Emperor penguins.
Dr. Eckert has published more than 100 scientific and general interest articles and is a valued consultant to governments, non-governmental organizations, and inter-governmental bodies, including the World Trade Organization and the U. S. Commission on Oceans. He is Chairman of the U.S. Pacific Sea Turtle Recovery Team, and a member of the U.S. Atlantic/Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team, the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and the Canadian Sea Turtle Recovery Team. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Sea Turtle Working Group of the Census of Marine Life “Tracking of Pacific Pelagics” (TOPP) program, Editor Emeritus of the acclaimed Marine Turtle Newsletter, and a former Board Member of the Western Pacific Fishery Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).