Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jag Walk End of Phase Summary

Now that Phase 113 is over, it is time to share our findings with you!

Jag walk is a survey that takes place once a week, every Thursday. It is a 15 mile walk on the beach, from our research base to Tortuguero, the nearest town, so on these days we always wish for a slightly overcast day so that we don’t get scorched by the sun! The survey’s aim is to monitor the impact of jaguar predation on marine turtles. On the way we document presence and absence of jaguar tracks, including entry and exit points between the rainforest edges and the beach, and count turtle tracks every half a mile. We also GPS any turtle carcasses, which have usually been killed by jaguars. Sometimes the carcasses have been dragged deep into the vegetation, so we have to machete our way through, which is an adventure on its own! The carcasses are studied and the estimation of date of kill is recorded, biometric data is taken and photographic evidence is documented.

The following is information on the roundup of the phase:

· There was a total of nine jag walks and the distance covered was an astounding 130.5 miles!

· 22398 green turtle tracks were recorded over nine surveys, which is a humongous amount of turtles!

· 137 newly recorded green turtle carcasses were found.

· 3 newly recorded hawksbill turtle (a critically endangered species) carcasses were found.

Overall, this has been a pretty impressive phase and we found that there was some correlation between jag presence and turtle presence, resulting in the deaths of some unfortunate turtles. However, as you can see from the numbers of turtle tracks and the amount of turtles killed, it is safe to say that the jaguars are luckily not driving the turtles into extinction!