Friday, June 11, 2010

A prehistoric face on the beach

Last weeks mammal transect team had a surprise encounter with a reptile on their way to the survey site at mile 15. As they were walking down the beach they found a Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coricea) who was still on the beach covering her egg chamber at almost six o’clock in the morning. The team, field staff member Sarah Durose and volunteers Jackie Sands, Ben Neuss, and Marcus Wilkinson, guessed that she had come up to shore while it was still dark and hadn’t finished nesting when the sun began to rise.

The mammal transect team radioed the patrol out on nest check to hurry down the beach to see the turtle. Field staff member Andres Jimenez and team sprinted a mile down the beach to catch the turtle before she returned to sea after having finished 15 mile walk down the beach the day before. “It was worth it to see that dinosaur,” he said “I would have run twice that far to see that prehistoric face.” Everyone finally had the opportunity to take as many photos as they liked of a nesting Leatherback (photography is not permitted on the beach during night walks). “She was incredible,” reported Jackie “you could see the pink under her neck.” It was the perfect cap on an excellent Leatherback season here at Jalova.