On Thursday night the other interns and I were sitting around the table playing games. It was about 9pm when we hear a knock on the door. Lyan got up to go see who it was. When she came back her messages sent us into a mad scramble. It was a guy who had been playing basketball on the court next to the ATMAR center when he noticed a baby turtle on the court. They went to investigate and it turned out a leatherback nest was hatching. We grabbed our bags, headlamps, gloves, and run out the door towards the beach. When we arrived there was a small group of people standing around a pile of baby turtles. Lyan our team leader started giving directions to people and we went to work. Due to the light from the basketball court the turtles were disoriented and instead of going towards the ocean they went in the opposite direction to the courts which is about 100 feet away. There was a group of people with their cellphones out scanning the ground looking for turtles. I stayed by the nest and directed the emerging turtles in the right direction towards the ocean. We found 35 turtles scattered around the basketball court, grass field, and vegetation heading up to the center. Once we had collected the lost turtles and the rest of the babies had hatched from the nest we began to dig it up. We took out the rest of the babies stuck in the sand along with the eggs to collect data. It was very lucky we were there otherwise many more turtles would have died. As I mentioned in a previous post light pollution is threatening the survival of turtles. Instead of going to the ocean which was about 5 feet away the baby leatherbacks went 100 feet in the wrong direction towards the basketball court lights. This exposes them to predation from dogs, birds, and crabs. They can also easily get caught in the vegetation and if left there the sun in the morning would kill them. This is a major problem that needs to be dealt with if we want to increase the survival of turtles.

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One thought on “Week 6 – Turtle Emergency

  1. Bronwyn,

    So glad someone notified you so you could save as many as you could. This is all so very interesting to me… We are all learning with you and I love to learn about it. Thanks so much ..

    Reply

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