Monday, January 18, 2016

Mary's last update!

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By now, we are about ¾ of the way through the nesting season, and I thought I would update everyone on how the season is going!  We have had a busy season, with a total of 50 turtle encounters and 191 nests across 14 beaches.  176 nests are on the 6 main nesting beaches in the South of Mahe, with Anse Intendance having the most at 50 nests! Many of the earlier laid nest have hatched (the incubation time for the nests is around 2 months). We dig up as many hatched nests as we possibly can to count the number of egg shells and see the hatching/survival rate of the eggs.  Sometimes, eggs we find in the nest have stopped developing for some reason, likely because the nest was flooded at some point during incubation.  Occasionally, eggs don’t show any sign of development, which means the egg was probably an unfertilized egg when the turtle laid her eggs.
Collecting egg clutch survival data
This week, we had a familiar turtle visitor on Anse Intendance. 
The distinct track of the 3-legged turtle
This season, we’ve had a turtle that is missing her back left flipper nesting on Anse Intendance.  The injury appears very old and well healed. We think she either lost her flipper to a shark bite or from being entangled in a fishing line.  Because of her back stump, she leaves an interesting track mark in the sand when she emerges from the sea, so we have been able to tell when and where she has come up.
Hawksbill turtles lay 4-5 nests in a nesting period, and this is the three-legged turtle's third confirmed nest.  Usually, the turtles will emerge around every 14-20 days to lay a nest during the nesting season (Hawksbill turtle nesting season is October-February). Their reproductive cycle is every 2-3 years, so this turtle will likely return in 2017-2018.
Slowly but surely covering her nest!
Despite missing one of her back flippers that turtles use for digging, the turtle seems to have adjusted well to having only 3 legs and she has become one of our favorite turtles among the turtle patrol team.

Unique photo ID of the 3-legged turtle
This is my last blog post for MCSS, I’ll be leaving Seychelles next week.  I have had an amazing time here working with the sea turtles and amazing and dedicated conservationists! I hope I will come back and see all these turtles again one day!  Until then, Bon voyage!

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