Our History

Archie CarrThe Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research (ACCSTR) at the University of Florida was established as a Center of Excellence in 1986 by the University Board of Regents of the State of Florida in recognition of the outstanding achievements and pioneering research of the late Archie Carr and the University of Florida’s international reputation in the field of sea turtle research.

Archie Carr was a University of Florida Graduate Research Professor of Zoology and was associated with the University for more than fifty years.  His entire career was spent at the University of Florida, first as a student, B.A. (1932), M.S. (1934), and as the University’s first Ph.D. (1937) in zoology.

His ability to translate science into literature brought the first international attention to the plight of sea turtles.  He wrote 11 books and over 120 scientific articles about sea turtles and their habitats before his death in 1987.  His work and writings ranged throughout Florida, the Caribbean, and Africa.  After his death, he was honored with the creation of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica.
Archie Carr published his first paper on sea turtles in 1942, but it was not until he wrote his classic Handbook of Turtles (1952) that he began to focus his research on sea turtles.  He described his early discoveries about the plight of sea turtles in his book The Windward Road particularly in his chapter The Passing of the Fleet, which was a call to arms and resulted in global efforts to conserve sea turtles from extinction.

Archie Carr was one of those rare individuals who could inspire both scientific and general public audiences with his writings.  His genius and creativity were allowed full scope because the University of Florida awarded him a graduate research professorship in 1959, essentially freeing him of all responsibilities so that he could pursue his research and writing.  He repaid that investment many-fold.

Archie CarrArchie Carr

Dr. Carr’s work continues today at the ACCSTR, where a dedicated team of scientists and graduate students strive to understand and protect these amazing animals.  In 1987, Karen Bjorndal was hired as the first director of the ACCSTR.  Under her direction, the ACCSTR has expanded its international reputation in the field of sea turtle research, and researchers at the ACCSTR have continued to make landmark discoveries.