Saturday, July 24, 2010

Night Walk News

Green Turtle (cheonia mydas) season is in full swing in Tortuguero and volunteers at Jalova have been busy on their first night walks. Green Turtle monitoring has never been conducted on this end of the National Park beach and nearly every turtle encountered has never been tagged before. A survey site has been set up, and each eighth of a mile marked with painted driftwood between mile fifteen and the river mouth at mile eighteen. The survey rules are strickt, to ensure the least disturbance of the turtles possible, while still collecting the needed data. (photo: night walk team - ready to go)

Walking the beach in complete darkness was a new experience for most people. "It took a little while for your eyes to adjust, but once you got used to the light it was great," said Arno Van Heygen. "To interact so closely with the turtles is pretty cool." Volunteers have had to get used to working with the turtles themselves. Intern Sonja measured the curved carapace length of a Green Turtle and compared the experience to “getting hit by a sand brick”. Kyle McNulty said of his first night walk, “I counted eggs. The turtle was huge, I gently pushed the flipper aside and she laid 130 eggs.” Kyle reported his team was “100 % for the night. We saw seven turtles, we tagged seven turtles.” So far the record for ‘number of turtles seen on a shift’ is thirty-eight but expect to see that blown away in the weeks to come! The green season is here.