Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Surrounded by turtles...

Last night, on our way back from fishing, we saw a couple turtles up on the beach, so we went back to camp and grabbed our research gear. Then we tagged those couple of girls and noticed more coming out of the almost high tide as well. We headed back to camp to fuel ourselves before we went out for the night. After that we spent the next 4 hours tagging, measuring, and marking the GPS points of each turtle. We were able to tag and get information for 50 turtles. At one stage there were turtles surrounding us; coming and going from the beach. Though it may seem like it would have been overwhelming, to us it is such a unique and exciting experience being here in a very isolated area with so many sea turtles. It was such a great feeling when we found some turtles with tags from previous research trips done by either ourselves or others in the past. This means that we can start to find out how often the turtles nest and where they were found, etc. This morning we did a final track count from last night and found that there had been about 250 in total who nested. So far there have been over 1,000 sea turtles nesting on Crab Island…how awesome! From this, the beach looks like a war zone; as we drive along we can see tracks both old and new turning up the sand all over the beach. (Unfortunately in some areas there have been deaths…some hatchlings aren’t as lucky as we would hope. We see signs of the baby turtles being taken by rufous night herons, Jabirus, pelicans, seagulls, Oyster Catchers, crocs, etc. But on the other hand we see many hatchling tracks leading to the water meaning they made it through that first part of their dangerous journey out to sea). Each day we are learning more about the flatback sea turtles and it is so wonderful being a part of this. Hopefully it will lead to some more protection of this threatened species, who no one knows much about.

No comments: