Thursday, October 18, 2012

18/10/12 A Personal Blog from the Field

You know that the turtle nesting season has begun when all you dream about at night is turtles, tracks and nests! This year is my third nesting season on Curieuse island (as science coordinator and my last) and it certainly hasn’t disappointed so far. This season we are spending more time than ever on the main nesting beaches and therefore encountering as many turtles as possible. This will provide a more thorough understanding of how many times each female nests on Curieuse and also help with our new research aim of obtaining an estimate of hatchling success.

Walking onto the nesting beaches each morning is a bit like the feeling you get on Christmas eve; the anticipation of what you might find is always a thrill. You could find a myriad of tracks that need deciphering or an actual female going about the long and thorough process of laying her eggs, either way as the season goes on and more and more nests are made you can’t help but marvel at the miracle going on beneath the sand. There are thousands of critically endangered hawksbills turtles and even some greens developing, ready to make the big journey to the sea and hopefully a long life in the oceans.
Last week we had a visit from Dr Jeanne Mortimer (turtle expert & Champion and my personal hero), she imparted a wealth of knowledge and entertained us with stories of her adventures. She has given me the job of compiling all the data for the Curieuse nesting seasons into a database and writing a report to summarize it. Hopefully this will give a clearer picture of the current nesting population and how it has changed over the years.
This week I have had my first match using the photo ID technique; a female photographed 2 years ago was seen nesting here again this year! A real breakthrough...she is a loyal turtle to Curieuse Island and was possibly even born here many years ago. When I finally leave Curieuse I will be happy in the knowledge that Curieuse is a safe and protected island and remains a very important Hawksbill nesting area!