Friday, 10 May 2013

13th September - yeah tortuga mama and good luck!

Tonight I saw my first green turtle mama laying her eggs while on patrol with Alberto, Irvin and Ilse and I helped 3 leatherback tortugitas make their way to the sea, while on duty at the hatchery, the last leatherback hatchlings of the season.

 The leatherbacks nest- covered up to stop animals digging

We got to Tortuga mama as she was finishing her digging of the nest. A mesmerising process where she uses her back flippers to dig down to the full length of her flipper and makes a bulb shape at the bottom of the hole. It looked like really hard work. This makes as much space as possible for her eggs. Turtles can lay anywhere between 40-150 eggs per nest.

Over 70 eggs tonight.

I helped to collect and count the eggs. It was incredible, even though I got amniotic fluid on my arm! 

Ilse and Alberto headed back to the hatchery to rebury the eggs in safety, while me and Irvin waited for mama to fill in her nest and cover it up. 

It took a surprisingly long time. She was very diligent to make sure it was hard for predators to figure out where her eggs were laid. After she was done kicking sand at us- we had to stand further and further away- and off back into the ocean, Irvin and I carried on with the patrol. 

I spoke a little Spanish with Irvin. He said I am learning well. I said to learn is good! 

We got rained on a while but I was well prepared- head to toe waterproofs are the best! I could sit in the sand without getting wet and any sand in my pants!

At one point Irvin pulled a big branch out of the path, off the sand so we wouldn't trip in the dark. He let go and it smacked me on the side of the face! It took me a second to realise what had happened, quite a sting. No blood though and my eye closed fast. I felt sorrier for Irvin; he kept checking that I was ok and saying sorry. Sweet. I felt taken care of. :)

When we got to the Rio mouth we sat a while until Irvin noticed more rain clouds forming.

Correr! RUN! Rapido! Quickly!

The fast walk back was fairly uneventful until we found a nest that had obviously been poached, and the poachers had left one egg behind. 

a solo O

It was sad, but I hoped all the more for the long lives of the eggs that we collected earlier in the evening.

Buena Suerte!

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