The Edwin S. George Reserve (ESGR) is a 1300 acre fenced preserve located in Livingston County, Michigan.

Throughout the years, it has been the center of many long and short-term biological research studies. Many of these studies focus on turtles and their reproductive habits. 

In 2018, a group of scientists set out to study the behavior and nesting ecology of the ESGR turtles, specifically females.

When on land, female turtles are easily disturbed. If approached too closely, females will often abandon nest construction and halt nesting migrations. 

The ESGR scientists needed a way to differentiate the turtles. The labeling had to be viewable from a safe distance and needed to last the span of the nesting season (60+ days). 


Initially, they tried to use paint to label the turtles. Before applying the paint, they cleaned up the carapace (the hard upper shell of a turtle) to avoid damaging the seams between dermal plates.

After cleaning the shell, they dried the cleaned area with a hairdryer. The scientists noted that some of the turtles appeared to enjoy the drying process. 

After attempting painting with both small brushes and paint pens, it became clear that the numbers would be too hard to read and would not last the span of the nesting season.

Not to mention, it was a difficult task painting a live turtle. 


Our team was able to help by providing the ESGR scientists with Electromark’s Vinyl Fleet-Grade Reflective adhesive digits

The bright, adhesive numbers and letters were ideal for identifying turtles from a distance.

Easy and accurate identification of the individual turtles was possible from more than 160 feet away, ensuring the female turtles remained unperturbed. 

The outdoor durability of the digits made them an excellent solution for the study.

When tested on the turtles in ponds, the digits lasted for longer than the maximum duration of the nesting seasons in most locations. The digits’ material was resistant to the accumulation of dirt and algae growth.

Applying the digits onto the turtles proved to be a much easier task than the painting method. The vinyl material easily conforms to bumpier surfaces, in this instance – a turtle’s shell.

In some cases, the digits remained on turtles into the next nesting season. With Electromark’s diverse offering of numbers and letters, the scientists formulated year-specific IDs, making the longer-lasting digits a non-issue.  

The Electromark Difference

We’ve provided electrical utilities with durable safety solutions for 50 years, but as you can see our products are used in unique projects, too! ESGR has used Electromark digits for more than 25 years to label turtles. 

At Electromark, our customers’ success is our success. We’re committed to meeting your project’s needs and aim to exceed your expectations. 

With a wide shell-ection of products, Electromark is here to help! 

Reach out to our customer service team for a quote on your next custom project today!

Follow us on LinkedIn for new information and updates here: Electromark Company.