Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mammal Transect Extra

*This entry contains some graphic imagery*

Picture the scene: Saturday’s mammal transect team heading up the beach on an already-scorching day to begin their transect at Mile 15.

It is early February and they are following fresh jag prints as they go. Janet and Sophie are slightly ahead of Jo and Lydia when something stops them in their tracks. Or, as it hap­pens, a turtle’s tracks. No river turtle this - but our old friend Chelonia mydas, the green turtle. Not only is this an early turtle, it is a very unlucky one: the sight that greeted our team was gruesome indeed.

The evidence of fresh predation was plain enough during this turtle-free time of year, and the vivid blood and absence of flies or aroma spoke of a very recent kill (see bottom - not if you're eating your breakfast!). Jaguar predation of turtles is the domain of the jag walk, and not something a mammal transect team is supposed to come across - but Tortuguero beach will surely throw us a few more surprises in the coming months as more and more turtles emerge to nest.

In the meantime, this was one unlucky turtle - and one very lucky jag. A great many photos were taken, and a possibly-overexcited voicemail message left on the base phone as Jo called to share the news. Eventually the team moved on to their transect, just a little distracted, and a great morning was wrapped up with ocelot, jaguar and tapir tracks in the transect mud.