Friday, December 24, 2010

One very clumsy Hawksbill....

Let me introduce myself. I’m Georgia French, Project Coordinator for MCSS. I have been working here for about three months now and been on many turtle patrols but this one proved to be particularly memorable.....

We were headed to Intendence beach for our usual turtle patrol when we got a call from a Banyan Tree Staff member saying that there had been four turtle emergences on the beach that morning and one turtle was still present. This was great news for us as we haven’t caught a turtle on the beach for a little while and we were beginning to miss them!

We arrived to find a large group of tourists that were being managed by Banyan Tree staff standing well back from the nesting turtle. The intervention by the staff was good to see as two of the other emergences that morning had resulted in the turtles being scared back into the sea by unwitting tourists before they could lay their eggs. Thank goodness the staff were present to correctly manage the enthusiastic group for this turtle!

When we checked her laying stage we found that she had not yet begun to dig an egg chamber so we waited about half an hour for her to investigate the area and pick a spot that she was happy with.
Nesting turtle getting tied up in vegetation trying to find the right spot to nest; photo Caroline Baille

Once she had carefully excavated the egg chamber with her back flippers (I love watching this process, you would never think they could use their back flippers so delicately) I lay down behind her so that I could count the number of eggs that she laid. I think that she may have already nested a few times this season as she only laid 93 eggs. While she was laying, her carapace was measured and she was checked for injuries. She seemed to have a very fresh scrape on the back left of her carapace but it wasn’t a serious injury. Once she had finished laying we left her alone to cover her nest and then disguise it by throwing sand around with her front flippers. Unfortunately she managed to get a front flipper AND her neck well and truly stuck under some roots so we had to assist her in leaving the nest site.

On her way back to the sea at last! Photo Caroline Baille

When we knew she was about to head back to sea, we called over a family that had been waiting very patiently to see her return to the ocean. Making sure that they followed the turtle watchers code of conduct and stayed a safe distance away, the family took lots of pictures and were really happy to have witnessed such a rare and beautiful sight.

The happy family takes some photos of the turtle as she heads down the beach; photo Caroline Baille

But, once again, our turtle turned out to be somewhat unlucky. On her way over the rocks at the tideline, she managed to fall straight into a turtle-shaped hole! She was stuck fast with only her rear end and back flippers poking out which looked somewhat amusing but was a situation that required rectifying fast!

Stuck in a perfectly turtle sized hole! Photo Caroline Baille.

Myself and Devis Monthy used the protruding front of her carapace to pull her out of the hole and finally release her back to the sea. By this time there were a large number of spectators who all seemed very pleased to see this mishap prone turtle finish her trip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great work Devis and Georgia. Patricia