Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Friends?!?!

Wednesday night after 3 days without seeing our puppy friend Hernaldo shows up for dinner carrying the little squirt. I couldn't believe it. One of the children had seen him on the street and asked him to return my puppy to me. I guess word around here travels fast! Since we knew Lotti was coming in the next day and could take her to Ana. I felt it was better to be safe than sorry, so  the little one slept in the shower so she couldn't disappear again.

That night I patrolled from 3-5AM and the only nest that was laid on the beach that night had been poached. I am getting really frustrated with the amount of poaching on this beach. As of now we have a 30% poach rate and last year when I was working on a more established project, Playa San Miguel which has been protected for over a decade, we only had 12% poached. So it is really hard to feel like every night we are losing eggs. Hopefully we will see a change as our new project becomes more established.

When I get back to the house at 5 all I want to do is sleep, but the puppy has other ideas. So I take her out to the beach and we go for a little run, which tires her out so I could get a couple extra hours of shut eye.

At 10AM Lotti arrived to help us exhume a nest that a local, Ronni, had found on the beach after dogs had gotten to it. We hadn't had much faith in the nest hatching since it had been traumatized and moved so late in its development. Since we had noticed it had started to smell, we figured it was best to get it out of the hatchery before it contaminated all our other nests with bugs. But when we dug into the nest and got a visual of the eggs it was apparent they were in the middle of hatching. So we took the one baby we saw was ready to be released and left the rest for another 48 hours to give them a chance to hatch on their own before we helped them out.

At 7:45PM we began patrol by releasing the one baby who had spend the day sleeping in a bucket of sand in a closet. She seemed pretty weak walking to the water, but once she was in the water she was swimming fast. Hopefully we will see her again in 12 years!

As soon as we were sure the baby had made it out to sea we began our normal patrols. Matt and I went to the north and Victor headed south. We walked all the way to the north end of the beach without seeing anything, but poachers. This gave us confidence there were going to be a lot of turtles because the number of poachers seems to correlate to the number of turtles.

As we returned towards the house, we see a up track, so the turtle is still present.  Matt and I were measuring the track when I saw someone come up from behind me. It was a group of 6 people from one of the local families. They stepped towards me blocking me from seeing the turtle. Feeling comfortable that I knew the group, I asked if it would be alright if I took the measurements and tagged the turtle, but they could keep the eggs. I was hoping if I had the opportunity to spend time with them they would be more likely to give me at least 1/2 of a nest.

The lady who was obviously in charge seemed hesitant, scared that we would scare the turtle before she laid. I had to ensure them that I would wait until she started laying before I would go touch the turtle. As a group, we waited as the turtle climbed to the top of the beach and begin laying her eggs. This took almost a 1/2 hour which gave us a lot of time to get to know the locals.

At first everyone was little quiet and unsure of the situation, but before long they were asking all sorts of questions about what I do, the nesting process and the babies. This is when it dawned on me, they know their beach well and how to predict when and where turtles are going to nest, but don't know much about the animal  herself.  Knowing that I began to have more confidence that maybe we could convert the poachers on this beach.

Thanks Victor for the great photos!
Once the turtle started laying, I approached her with my red light and measured and tagged her, explaining the whole process of what I was doing to the interested audience.  After we had gathered the information we needed, I looked at the group  and asked if they would be interested in splitting the nest so that we could help guarantee eggs for the future. They all stood there silently staring at me and finally someone spoke up and said "Absolutely not!" So with that I left the eggs to an unthinkable future  and walked away with hopes that maybe when they see the babies they would be more interested in conservation. But until then I will keep building on the relationships I made that night.

Here is the Turtle Tracker for Costa de Oro for today
Turtles Nested: 48
Eggs in Hatchery: 3060
Babies Release: 1
Nests in Hatchery: 32

No comments:

Post a Comment