A fleet of adorable sea turtles in Australia are now the most stylish sea creatures out there, wearing custom made swimsuits. Dreamed up by a team of researchers at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences, the swimsuits were devised to collect sea turtle feces as a way to study their diet in the wild. Functioning as a diaper, but looking like a cute swimsuit, the mini garments were made for sea turtle hatchlings from secondhand sun shirts from a charity shop.

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Headed by PhD student Owen Coffee and researcher Carmen da Silva, the team set out to study sea turtles in order to help better protect the endangered species. The team decided to study the turtles’ feces in order to find and protect their feeding areas. But collecting feces in an ocean, or even a controlled water tank, proved difficult.

Six loggerhead sea turtles were temporarily captured, in hopes to study their leavings before releasing them back into the wild. Team member Dr. Kathy Townsend recalled outfitting sea turtle hatchlings with harnesses, and so suggested a line of custom swimsuits could do the trick.

With the second hand sun shirts, each turtle was given a stylish and bright swimsuit, that fit flexibly and snugly over their shells without harm. The swimsuits doubled as an all-over diaper, allowing the team to collected their coveted samples.

After the study, the turtles turned in their suits, forever giving up their gigs as swimsuit models, and were returned to Moreton Bay.

+ University of Queensland