Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monitoring turtle nesting beaches - GVI Placement

I am currently a GVI conservation intern working for one of our partners Bureni Turtle Watch (a group formed under KESCOM) in Vipingo, Mombasa. Kirsty, the Marine Officer, and I have been working on perfecting this placement for some time making preparations for the future interns who will be placed here. Fortunately I have been given the privilege of working with BTW along with another intern for the next few weeks. We have many objectives and goals for this expedition, one of which is to assist a turtle nest hatching and to translocate eggs. We never thought we would get to experience both, never mind on our second day here!

On Tuesday we visited another area of Vipingo called Mwanamia. This area of beach is becoming popular with turtles and the local people are finding more and more nests. At this time the local people are very interested in turtles and conserving them but are unsure what to do, so for the meantime BTW are offering their full support and training

Carefully sifting through the hatched nest, we discover a late green hatchling to be released 

When we arrived, they showed us a nest that had already hatched. We sifted through the sand looking for the empty shells to count but suddenly we something dark and very much alive! Deep in the hole was one male baby Green turtle left behind struggling to get free! It was very overcast that day so we decided to help the turtle to freedom and lifted it onto the surface. Immediately it started to make its way to the ocean and finally made it into the rough water!

Once we recorded the number the shells and the undeveloped eggs, we moved on to a new nest that was just too close to the tide line thus would get flooded at high tide. In order to ensure the survival of these turtles, we decided to translocate them to a safer nest. So under the dark clouds, we filled a bucket with some sand from inside the nest and gently lifted all 139 eggs into the bucket and then very gently placed them into the alternative nest above the tide line. We filled the hole with sand and then cleared the area so the nest was completely hidden. We hope and pray all 139 hatches safely – only 45-60 days to wait!

This week we are expecting one of our turtles to return to our beach and once again lay her eggs. Turtles lay under moonlight at high tide so think of us at 4am whilst you are still cozy in your bed! Fingers crossed we get to experience this amazing event!

Come back and check for our update!