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Friday, July 27, 2007

Green Turtle “Darwina” is the Second Turtle Tracked from Bonaire this Nesting Season

A Green turtle (Turtuga Blanku), nesting on the Atlantis dive site on the southern coast of Bonaire, was fitted with a satellite transmitter Tuesday night by a team of staff and volunteers from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). This is the second turtle to be tracked during the current nesting season and the second Green turtle ever fitted with a transmitter on Bonaire.

Based on the pattern of turtle nesting activity observed during the last few weeks, it was predicted that the Green turtle would possibly return to the beach on Tuesday night. During a beach patrol on Tuesday morning, STCB’s Funchi Egbreghts found crawl tracks from a turtle but observed that it was a false nesting attempt. So the team set out that night to monitor the area around the dive site.

Around 8:30 pm, a large Green turtle came ashore, but it took her three hours before she found a spot to lay her nest. When attempting to deploy a transmitter, it is important that the turtle be allowed to nest before starting the deployment process. If she decides to go back to the sea, we let her go and wait for her to come back and safely lay her nest. This is done in order to protect her clutch and avoid extra stress on the animal. At 11:30 pm, she began laying eggs. She was then measured (95.5 cm (37.6 in) straight carapace length) and tagged on her front flippers. An hour later and after she had thoroughly covered the nesting area with sand, the approximately 140 kg (309 lb) turtle was fitted with a satellite transmitter. At 2:30 am, the Green turtle was released and she quickly departed into the sea.

This was Darwina’s second nest of this season and it is anticipated that she may lay one or more nests before she leaves the area to return to her home foraging grounds.

Green turtle Darwina will be the second turtle to be tracked from Bonaire during the 2007 nesting season. Tracking of this Green turtle is made possible by a full sponsorship provided by Karen and Ken Miller.

Earlier this month, the female Hawksbill ‘Eloise’ was fitted with a transmitter after nesting at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. Eloise is still in the area and may be departing shortly.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter, which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers on board weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire’s sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.  (Source:  STCB)

Note Update July 30, 2007: Darwina, our female Green turtle, departed from the southern coast of Bonaire during the morning of July 25th, probably right after being fitted with her satellite transmitter. Her path has taken her due south toward Venezuela and it appears that she is turning to the east.

Darwina came ashore on the evening of 24 July to lay, what was believe to be, her second nest of this season and it was thought that she would stay in the area a while longer to lay additional nests.

Darwina is over 80 km from the southern tip of Bonaire and swimming at a rather leisurely pace.

Note Update August 8, 2007: She’s back! Darwina came ashore on Bonaire again shortly before 2:00 AM, right in the area in which she last nested back on July 25. She spent approximately two hours on shore, leaving around 4:00 AM. Subsequent signals we received are confusing and her path after leaving the beach is unclear.

This is the third nest for Darwina this season. STCB staff were on the job bright and early this morning and have already confirmed the nest.

After swimming a huge loop in the southern Caribbean, concerns regarding Darwina having lost her way were apparently unfounded.

Posted by Susan Davis on July 27, 2007 at 11:30am AST
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