Tuesday, September 23, 2008
She has legendary status. She is Big Mama. A venerable loggerhead measuring more than 1m and an enormous head. She has been nesting here for a long time and nothing is going to get in her way. She has dragged many a Ranger and burly soldiers down the beach - she will not be thwarted and she doesn't care if you want to measure or tag her. Even hunters cannot deter her, it was a close call - she was seconds away from being butchered and saved in the nick of time by the Rangers. And she is back, (who says the season is over?) yet another nest laid last night on Paradise Beach to add to the two already in the hatchery. We are expecting super-babies from those nests.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Now that we have had plenty of nests hatching in both artificial and natural conditions, we are beginning to discuss the relative merits of both. Our hatchery success rate is 70% but most of the nests left in situ are much higher at 90%+. However, the nests that we have moved would probably have been washed over by high tides or destroyed by vehicles if we had not intervened and maybe no hatchlings at all would have emerged. Our ideal would be to leave all the nests on the beach that were not below high water, but the problem so far, is that although all in situ nests have high hatching success, without exception, the majority of hatchlings have gone the wrong way and headed towards the lights of buildings and construction sites. We estimate that more than 90% of the babies born naturally this year have already been lost. If this has been happening, unmonitored in previous years, we are going to have a serious problem in 20 to 30 years when it is time for them to return to Cabo Verde.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Last night a nest hatched on the beach by the new residential area in Santa Maria. Unfortunately almost all 65 babies headed for the buildings, many of which are very brightly lit, even though they are unoccupied. Several were also killed on the road. I am personally very upset as we searched and searched for the nest back in July and even though the turtle had made eight attempts to dig a nest, we believed that she had given up. It's a very rocky area and everyone told us turtles no longer nest there. If we had found the nest it would have hatched safely in the hatchery. What is even more upsetting is that the residents and developers I have spoken to do not feel that their lights are a problem. Turtle friendly lights are just as good as regular lights and we believe that people buying property on Sal would want the turtles to keep coming to beaches near their houses. We feel even more determined now to rescue nests in areas like these until we can convince people to make some compromises to help the turtles.
It's great that the police are really working with us now. They called us today about a turtle that was 'found' and they brought her straight round to us. Probably one of the few loggerheads in the world to have had a ride around in a police vehicle. She was exhausted and very dry and dusty but once all the sand was off her she looked beautiful. We tagged her and released her from a beach in Santa Maria. Poor thing was quite reluctant to go in the water, but the Rangers swam in with her and made sure that she was floating and breathing ok before we leg her go. How or where she was found is a little confused. No questions asked for this one, we are just glad she made it. Another lucky, lucky turtle.