Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2009 Leatherback season excavations

The boat was jam packed with volunteers and staff alike, all aboard for a mass excavation. With only a few excavations to be undertaken in phase 16, it was certainly a survey everyone looked forward too. Once the boat had docked at Turtle Beach Lodge, the team eagerly made there way to the survey site at mile 2 4/8th. Three lucky volunteers were picked at random to assist in the excavation, and Noelle, Kate and Tara were waiting in the wings to get stuck in, as Wing got to work at finding the eggs.

The semi circle of watchers waited it anticipation for the first egg of the clutch to be discovered beneath the black sand, and they didn’t have to wait long. Following the route of soft sand, Wing unearthed the first egg. A sense of relief filled the group, and the atmosphere got increasingly cheery as hatched shells as well as whole eggs were plucked from the chamber.

Within the middle of the nest was Tidbit data-logger, a device belonging COTERC’s student April Stevens. April gave a short talk about the information being collected and the effects of climate change on marine turtle nests. The small device functions throughout the incubation of the nest, logging the temperature of within the clutch every hour. This information will help examine the development of the embryos, as it will obtain the temperatures of crucial times during incubation.

It was s
oon time for Kate, Tara and Noelle to get involved with the eggs. First, they needed to separate the hatched shells from the complete ones, before getting their hands dirty opening the unsuccessful ones. It was soon discovered that fungi or/and bacteria had got into a portion of the nest’s eggs, resulting in quite a nasty and smelly mess, which Vicky was a little too inquisitive about. The three volunteers got to fiddle within the goo, looking for any indication of development within the egg. With Thea at hand taking down all the appropriate data, and the girls getting into an egg cracking rhythm, the survey was almost complete, at which point the audience had retreated somewhat due to lingering odour, which Vicky appeared immune to. With the data in, it was concluded that 32 hatchlings had made it out to begin there voyage to adulthood.