After receiving a call on the MCSS hotline from a diligent member of the public about some turtle eggs in peril on one of our South Mahe monitored beaches, myself and GVI volunteer Brian Kneafsy went to the rescue. It turns out that the nice, safe place where a turtle chose to lay her eggs was not so nice and safe anymore due to the appearance of a large erosion cliff caused by changing tides. The sand had been completely washed away, taking the majority of the eggs with it and leaving the remainder partly exposed to the elements.
The exposed nest clearly visible in the erosion cliff, photo Georgia French
Obviously this is not conducive to nesting success so the eggs had to be moved further back on the beach into a new egg chamber created by us. Because the eggs were obviously quite well developed, it was critical that they remained in the same position that they were found in to avoid killing the developing embryos. To make sure that they remained in the correct position, we marked the top of each one with a small dot so that we knew which way up to place them in their new home.
The recovered eggs with their orientation 'top' marks, photo Georgia French
Unfortunately, only 16 eggs were left from the entire clutch which would typically contain around 150. But still, every egg counts!
Each egg was carefully removed, marked and placed onto a cloth before transporting a few feet back from the edge of the cliff.
The new nest safely back from the high-water line, photo Georgia French
They were then delicately placed into the new chamber with all of the dots facing up before being covered with sand. Staff from a nearby establishment were told of the move and are now on the look-out for any hatchlings that may have survived.
The relocated eggs, safely in their new nest, photo Georgia French
Erosion cliffs cause big problems for nesting turtles as they can not only expose nests that have already been laid but can prevent females from making it up the beach to the nesting platform in the first place. Hopefully in this case we got there in time and 16 new turtles will be able to make it to the sea.