Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jaguars can’t change their spots, but can marine turtles?

Sunday morning started with more live action than expected for the team beginning the 14.5 miles to study jaguar predation of marine turtles on Tortuguero National Park beach. The team was lucky enough to encounter a live sea turtle as she camouflaged her nest on Tortuguero beach and had the opportunity to take pictures of her during daylight hours.

Among the many predated turtles they saw along the way was one that was unidentifiable, but looked to be a hybrid of a green and hawksbill, with a giant claw on its back flipper. Recent studies have indicated that this type of hybridization may becoming increasingly common as hawksbill numbers continue to fall and they fail to find mates amongst their own species.

The team, were joined by researcher and PhD student, Hannah Vander Zenden who was taking samples of scutes (the large scales on the carapace -back shell- of the turtle) from the predated turtles. Interestingly, the hybrid turtle didn’t have and scutes from which to sample, with the carapace completely fused as on smooth piece.


Olly said...

This is amazing! Have you got any photos of this? And can they reproduce? And if they do reproduce, what kind species are they producing? So many questions!