Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exciting Nest Check

At five in the morning we embarked on a daily nest check. Although there were no signs of hatchlings, there was still plenty to discover.

Around 600 meters from the Jalova base we found jaguar tracks leading to fresh jaguar scat. We found two whole Green Sea Turtle hatchlings in the jaguar scat. Jaguars are a common predator of Green Sea Turtles in Tortuguero National Park, however it was unknown whether they prey on turtle hatchlings until that morning.

Roughly 50 meters beyond the jaguar scat we saw a sudden movement in the vegetation. As we walked towards the commotion we discovered two sets of fresh jaguar tracks with claws drawn ascending from the surf. This indicates that the jaguar was running. The tracks looked as though they were of an adult jaguar and its cub.

On the perimeter of the vegetation we found a wounded opossum with two puncture wounds – indicative of canine teeth – on its back. Because the attack was noticeably recent, there was a possibility that the jaguar might return.

Partially spur of the moment, but mostly the opportunity to see such an elusive animal, we decided to lay in the surf and wait for the jaguar to come back.

After almost 30 minutes and soaked pants, there was still no sign of a jaguar. Since the jaguar duo did not come back to claim its prey, it is a possibility that the adult was training the cub to hunt.

The trudge back to Jalova was glorious as we regaled the events of the morning. The moment was even worthy of a victory photo set amongst the sunrise.

- Kristen Byrne and Rachael Downes, Volunteers