Community-based sea turtle research and conservation in Dominica : a manual of recommended practices

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Community-based sea turtle research and conservation in Dominica : a manual of recommended practices
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Stapletone, Seth P.
Eckert, Karen L.
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Note:


This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International
Development. It was prepared by WIDECAST under a subcontract with Chemonics Inter-
national Inc. under the terms of USAID Caribbean Open Trade Support Program, Contract
No. AFP-I-02-04-00002-01. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do
not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the
United States Government.


















For bibliographic purposes, this document should be cited as:

Stapleton, Seth P. and Karen L. Eckert. 2008. Community-Based Sea Turtle Research and
Conservation in Dominica' A Manual of Recommended Practices. Prepared by the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) and the Dominica Sea Turtle
Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO), with funding from the U. S. Agency for Interna-
tional Development. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8. Beaufort, North Carolina. 47 pp.


ISSN: 1930-3025

Cover Photo courtesy of Seth Stapleton (Rosalie Bay, Dominica)

Copies of this publication may be obtained from:

Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO)
P.O. Box 939, Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: (767) 448-4001
E-Mail: domsetco@gmail.com


Online at www.widecast.org








COMMUNITY-BASED SEA TURTLE
RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION
IN DOMINICA:


A MANUAL OF RECOMMENDED PRACTICES



Seth P. Stapleton
Karen L. Eckert

2008


L WIDECAST DomSeTCO
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization

C fUSAID
~>l^ FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
-LOU AI







Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


PREFACE AND INTENT



For more than 25 years the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDE-
CAST), with Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, has
linked scientists, conservationists, natural resource users and managers, policy-makers,
industry groups, educators, and other stakeholders together in a collective effort to develop
a unified management framework, and to promote a region-wide capacity to design and
implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programmes.

As a Partner Organization of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme and its
Regional Programme for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), WIDECAST is
designed to address research and management priorities at national and regional levels,
both for sea turtles and for the habitats upon which they depend. We focus on bringing the
best available science to bear on contemporary management and conservation issues, em-
powering stakeholders to make effective use of that science in the policy-making process,
and providing an operational mechanism and a framework for cooperation at all levels, both
within and among nations.

Network participants are committed to working collaboratively to develop their collective
capacity to manage shared sea turtle populations. By bringing people together and by en-
couraging inclusive management planning, WIDECAST is helping to ensure that utilization
practices, whether consumptive or non-consumptive, do not undermine sea turtle survival
over the long term. Among these capacity building initiatives is a programme in Dominica,
begun in 2003, to demonstrate how sustainable management of depleted sea turtle stocks
can be accomplished through community-led processes of engagement, consensus and small
business training related to eco-tourism development appropriate to the "Nature Island".

This Manual of Recommended Practices is designed to offer guidance to community-based
organizations involved in sea turtle population monitoring (on nesting beaches), tagging
and measuring of sea turtles, characterizing habitat and nest site selection, documenting
hatch success, keeping standardized records, and engaging in public education and out-
reach. The recommendations are based on the experience and success of Dominica's Rosalie
Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), and they follow internationally recognized best practices.

We dedicate this Manual, the development of which was made possible through support
provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to the people of Dominica who
are striving to ensure the survival of their sea turtles. Such efforts will surely result in
rising populations, and with that recovery will come new economic choices, stronger com-
munities, healthier coastal ecosystems, and a better future for all.

Karen L. Eckert
Executive Director
WIDECAST






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



The present-day sea turtle conservation programme in the Commonwealth of Dominica
draws its strength from the dedicated efforts of many people over the course of many years.
In particular: Adolphus Christian, Stephan Durand, Arlington James, David Williams, Eric
Hypolite, Ronald Charles and other Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division staff; Andrew
Magloire, Harold Guiste, Al Philbert and Norman Norris of the Fisheries Division; and
Inspector Cuffy Williams and fellow officers of the Commonwealth of Dominica Police
Force. This Manual benefits from their experiences, as well as from access to established
international norms related to sea turtle field research and conservation programming.

The authors are grateful to Mr. Errol Harris (Dominican Sea Turtle Conservation Organ-
ization, DomSeTCO), Mr. Stephen Durand (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division), Mr.
Harold Guiste (Fisheries Division), Dr. Scott Eckert (WIDECAST) and Dr. Julia Horrocks
(University of the West Indies) for their expert review of this document.

We would also like to recognize Mr. Rowan Byrne (University of University of Wales,
Aberystwyth) and Mr. Allan Franklin (University of the West Indies, Barbados) for their
contributions to sea turtle conservation in Dominica as former Project Directors of the
Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), and to the following beach patrollers and data
collectors who have contributed countless thousands of hours documenting and protecting
the sea turtles that arrive each year to lay their eggs on the island's shores: John
Alexander, Damian Althnese, Alexander Beaupierre, Jerome Bruno, Jackson Cadette, John
Cadette, Osmond Cadette, Nelly Felix, Gracien Fontaine, Andre George, Dexter George,
Vernon George, MacDonald Greenaway, Bradley Guye, Julian Frances, Errol Harris,
Marcella Harris, Clarisant Joseph, Bonifas Lawrence, Frances Lawrence, Wenslaus
Lawrence, Zuane Prescott, Charles Richards, Dennis Roman, Martin Sorhaindo, Charles
Watty, Edward Watty, Jolly Williams, Hannah Williams, and Joelle and Glen of the
Northeast, in addition to Stephen Durand, Adolphus Christian, and other current and
retired Forestry, Fisheries, Police and other Government officers. Similarly, we are
grateful for the contributions of the 2003 RoSTI Youth Interns: Beverly Scotland, Mia
Beaupierre, Ashlene Giraudel, Darren Esprit, and Regina Joseph

We sincerely thank Mrs. Beverly Deikel (Rosalie Bay Nature Resort) for her support of sea
turtle conservation in Dominica over the years, and we are also indebted to members of the
WIDECAST network for their willingness to share their extensive expertise, provide peer-
training, donate technical materials, and support community-based sea turtle conservation
and ecotourism programmes in Dominica. This publication was made possible through
support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of
Contract #AFP-I-02-04-00002-01, and by a grant from Diana Gardener and Judson Parsons.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


TABLE OF CONTENTS



P reface an d In ten t.................................................. ..............................................................

A ckn o w ledgem en ts.................................................................. ................... ........................ ..... iv

T able of C on ten ts................................................................... ................................................. v

List ofFigures......................................................................................... vii



I. IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................................................................... ................ ......... 1

II. N ESTIN G BEACH PATROLS ........................................................... .................... 3

III. TA G GIN G SEA TU RTLES ................................................................ .................... 6

G ettin g Started ................................................................................. ...... ........... . 8

F lip p er T ags .................................................... ............................ ......................... .... 8

P IT T ags ........................................................ .................. ................ .... 11

IV. MEASURING SEA TURTLES.......................................................... 12

V. CHARACTERIZING HABITAT ..................... ..................... ........................... 14

VI. M OVIN G SEA TU RTLE EGGS ....................................................... ........................ 15

VII. NEST EMERGENCE AND EXCAVATION.................... .. .............................. 19

VIII. RECORD -K EEPIN G ......................................................... ................ .................... 22

IX. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH .................................................... ....................... 23

T u rtle W atch es ........................................................................... ............... ......... 24

School Program m es ................................................................................................ 25

M edia ................................................................................................. . . . . 26

G general Com m ents ...................................................... ................. ........... ........ 26

X. SOLVIN G COM M ON PROBLEM S ................................................. ........................ 26

D isoriented Turtles ................................................................................................ 26






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Poaching and Predators ........................................................................ 28

Sick and Injured Sea Turtles ............................. ...... ............................. 29

Equipm ent M aintenance................................................................ ......................... 29

Q u estion s? ............................................................. ............................ ................. .... 2 9

XI. LITERATURE CITED.................... .......... ............ ......... .................... 30

XII. G LO SSAR Y .......................................................... ................. ..................... 32

X III. C O N T A C T L IST ................................................. ..................................................... 33


APPENDIX I.

APPENDIX II.

APPENDIX III.

APPENDIX IV.



APPENDIX V.


Identifying Dominica's Sea Turtles ......................................... 35

Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches in Dominica ....................................... 39

Turtle W watching Guidelines ...................................................................... 43

Sea Turtle Sighting Data Form ................................................45

Nest Excavation Data Form ........................................ .......... ....................46

Forestry and Wildlife Act Chapter 60:02 ................... .............. 47


The next generation. Photo by Didiher Chac6n C.






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


LIST OF FIGURES



Figure 1. (a) Leatherback, (b) Hawksbill, and (c) Green sea turtles are all known to nest in
the Com m onw health of Dom inica.................................................................................. ...... ..... 1
Figure 2. (a) Rosalie and (b) Castle Bruce are two of the many beaches in Dominica where
sea turtles come to lay their eggs each year. ...................................................... 2
Figure 3. (a) Leatherback crawls are symmetrical, about 150-250 cm wide, while (b)
Hawksbills, which tend to nest near or in vegetation, leave asymmetrical crawl patterns,
70 -85 cm w ide........................................................................................................................ 5
Figure 4. Green sea turtles typically create a deep nesting pit ........................................... 6
Figure 5. Nesting Leatherbacks moved between Dominica and several other Caribbean
islands during 2007. ........................................................................ .............................. 7
Figure 6. In Dominica, (a) flipper tags are applied to a Leatherback in the skin between the
tail and the hind flipper; (b) flipper tags are applied to a Hawksbill or Green turtle through
the center of the first or second 'pad' (on the trailing edge of the front flipper) closest to the
b ody ....................... ............ ............ ... ..................... ............. ......... 9
Figure 7. A Monel 1005-49 style metal flipper tag (a) correctly loaded and (b) cinched in the
ap p location p liers. ........................................................................... .............................. .... 10
Figure 8. Use a firm, swift motion to apply flipper tags to nesting sea turtles ................. 10
Figure 9. A PIT tag injected into the front right shoulder of an adult Leatherback .......... 11
Figure 10. CCLn-n extends from the nuchal notch in the shell to the notch above the tail.
CCLn-t extends from the nuchal notch to the furthest shell tip........................................ 12
Figure 11. Researchers measure (a) Hawksbill CCLn-t in Antigua and (b) Leatherback
C CW in D om inica .................................................................................... ............................. 12
Figure 12. Injuries and distinguishing features, such as (a) barnacles on a Hawksbill's
shell, (b) an amputated rear flipper and (c) lacerations caused by (d) fishing gear are impor-
tant to note on the data sheet. Some injuries, such as when the shell is broken or shortened,
can result in inaccurate measurements and should be noted on the data form. .................. 13
Figure 13. HWL is measured from the nest to the highest point that the water has reached,
and VE is measured from the nest to the edge of the closest vegetation ........................... 15
Figure 14. (a) A Leatherback lays her eggs and (b) a staff member reburies a nest at
L on don derry B each .................................................... ....................................................... 17
Figure 15. Images from elsewhere: (a) eggs collected for relocation in Nevis, West Indies
and (b) nests carefully reburied at 1-meter intervals at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico................. 17






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Figure 16. Baby sea turtles leave small tracks that are miniature versions of their mothers'
track s...... ...... ....................... .. .. ......................... 18

Figure 17. A Leatherback nest hatches in the early evening, leaving dozens of tiny tracks as
evidence of the hatchlings' race to the sea. ............................................... ......................... 19
Figure 18. (a) Hawksbill nest contents are separated into piles of hatched and unhatched
eggs, and (b) recently emerged Green turtle hatchlings are ready to crawl to the sea.........21
Figure 19. Record all data immediately while you are with the turtle .......................... 22
Figure 20. (a) Turtle watches, (b) beach clean-ups, (c) hands-on sharing, and (d) classroom
presentations are just some of the ways to spread the message of sea turtle conservation. 25
Figure 21. Artificial lights, including (a) beachfront developments and (b) bonfires, disori-
ent and confuse adult sea turtles and hatchlings, often misdirecting them away from the
sea an d to their deaths .............................................................................. .................... 27
Figure 22. (a) A carapace and a few eggs are all that remain of a Leatherback illegally
slaughtered in Dominica in 2007. (b) A staff member investigates the remains of a sea tur-
tle nest partially destroyed by dogs................................................................. ..................... 28
Figure 23. Local youth enjoy participating in a sand sculpture competition after a beach
clean -up in L a Plaine, D om inica..................................................................... .................... 31
Figure 24. As the last sea turtle of the night returns safely to the ocean, a satisfied beach
patroller enjoys a colorful sunrise. ........................................................... .................... 34






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


I. INTRODUCTION

The Caribbean Sea is home to six of the world's seven species of sea turtle. Three of these
species are known to nest in Dominica; namely, Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea),
Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green (Chelonia mydas) turtles (Figure 1; Appen-
dix I). Hawksbill and Green turtles are resident; Leatherbacks migrate seasonally from
highseas feeding grounds to lay their eggs on Dominica's windward beaches (Appendix II).
Historical accounts include nesting by Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles, but this species
has not been seen nesting in the 'Nature Isle' in recent memory.

Sea turtles survive remarkable odds an esti- (
mated 1 in 1,000 eggs survive to maturity -.
and adults often make spectacular long-dis-
tance migrations between feeding and nesting
grounds during complex life cycles. Sea turtles
are late-maturing (reproducing for the first
time at ages ranging from 12 to more than 40
years, depending on the species) and they can
live more than 50 years, making them one of "
the oldest creatures in the sea.

Why would anyone want to conserve sea tur-
tles? The reasons might be economic (a sus-
tainable fishery, a profitable 'Turtle Watching'
programme); ecological (Leatherbacks eat poi-
sonous jellyfish, thereby protecting humans
and benefiting fisheries; Green turtles help
keep seagrass meadows healthy, which in
turn stabilize coastal sediments and provide
nursery habitat; Hawksbills feed on sponges,
helping to maintain species diversity in coral
reefs, which in turn stabilize our coast and
support fisheries); aesthetic (sea turtles com-
prise a unique and beautiful part of our heri-
tage); and/or moral (they awe and inspire us).

Despite the varied reasons people cite for car-
ing about sea turtles, Caribbean (and global)
sea turtle populations declined dramatically
over the course of the 20th century. Today the
Figure 1. (a) Leatherback, (b) Hawksbill and (c)
World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists all Green turtles are all known to nest in the Com-
Caribbean sea turtle species as 'Endangered' monwealth of Dominica. Photos: (a) Scott Eckert,
or 'Critically Endangered', meaning that, WIDECAST, (b-c) Caroline Rogers






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


worldwide, these species have suffered adult population declines of at least 50% or 80%,
respectively, over their last three generations (IUCN 2007). Human threats, including
incidental capture by fishing nets, habitat loss and degradation, over-exploitation (in-
cluding the poaching of turtles and eggs), and pollution are responsible for these declines.

The Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), a project of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Con-
servation Network (WIDECAST), began studying Dominica's sea turtles in 2003, initially
focusing on Rosalie Bay and gradually expanding to monitor other nesting beaches along
the East coast. Partnering with the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, the Fisheries
Division, the private sector, and local communities, RoSTI gathered valuable information
about the nesting ecology of sea turtles, including when and where different species nest
(Franklin et al. 2004, Byrne and Eckert 2006, Bryne 2006). Nesting occurs throughout the
country from the high energy, Atlantic-facing beaches of the East and North coasts to the
calmer Caribbean-facing West coast beaches (Figure 2; Appendix II).

















Figure 2. (a) Rosalie and (b) Castle Bruce are two of the many beaches in Dominica where sea turtles
come to lay their eggs each year. Photos: Seth Stapleton

Communities have played a central role in conserving local sea turtle populations and in
documenting the abundance and distribution of seasonal egg-laying and this role will be-
come even more important in the coming years. By becoming active in sea turtle research,
conservation and management efforts, beach patrollers, tour guides and other interested
citizens can help to provide a better understanding of the biology of sea turtles. This under-
standing will, in turn, support recommendations and actions to ensure that the sea turtle
resource remains healthy and useful for economic, ecological, and cultural uses.

Regular beach patrols, identification tagging, measuring sea turtles and characterizing
nesting habitat, monitoring nest success, and engaging in public education and awareness
form the core of Dominica's national sea turtle programme. Each of these activities should
be carried out in accordance with international best practices: the objective of this Manual
is to define and explain these "best practices".






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


II. NESTING BEACH PATROLS

Regular foot patrolling is a well-established research technique (e.g. Schroeder and Murphy
1999) that can provide valuable information about the number (and species) of nesting sea
turtles, their favoured nesting sites, and trends in their distribution and abundance. In
addition, the presence of beach patrollers often results in reduced poaching activity.

Before becoming involved in nesting beach patrols, it is helpful to have a basic understand-
ing of the nesting process. Sea turtles are highly vulnerable while on land and they can be
quite sensitive to lights, noise and movement. For this reason it is essential to limit lights
and activity in order to give the turtle every opportunity to complete the nesting process.

After emerging from the surf, the turtle pulls herself onto the beach in search of a suitable
nesting site. She selects a nest site, creates a 'body-pit' using her flippers to brush away
dry surface sand, and digs the egg chamber (the nest into which the eggs are dropped)
using her agile hand-like rear flippers. This process usually takes at least 20 minutes, but
digging time may greatly increase if obstacles such as stones, roots or groundwater are
present. After the chamber has reached the appropriate depth, the turtle typically lays
anywhere from 70 to 160 round, leathery white eggs.

During the egg-laying phase a sea turtle
is relatively less responsive to activity
around her she can be approached by
CFf-'C-KLl.-ST trained data collectors, or viewed more
closely by visitors accompanied by a
E 20 clean tags, with tag applicator(s) licensed guide. Despite the large number
of eggs, egg-laying only takes about 8-15
minutes before the turtle backfills the
O Approved torch (flashlight) or headlamp
chamber with sand and 'camouflages' the
area (by tossing sand with her flippers)
Measuring tape(s) of the appropriate lengths) re t ing to the e.
before returning to the sea.

data sheets, pencils Beach patrolling is challenging work.
Walking in soft sand all night, in all

ing tape, permanent marker kinds of weather, requires energy and
dedication! Be prepared when you head
rout to the beach: carry a Beach Pack (see
charged batteries
Insert) and take care to protect specialty
items such as GPS units, PIT tags and
scanners, cameras, etc. from sand, ocean
spray and weather.






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


During peak nesting season, patrol the beaches as frequently as possible. Having patrollers
on the beach nightly is optimal but may not always be practical. Be sure to consider the
nesting season and preferred nesting beach types for each species of sea turtle (see Insert).


SEA TURTLE NESTING IN DOMINICAl(


When?



Peak nesting from
April to June




Occasional nesting
year-round;
Activity may
increase from
June October


Occasional nesting
year-round;
Activity may
increase from
June September


Where?


High energy
beaches along the
East and North
coasts



Small, isolated
beaches with
mature vegetation,
particularly on the
West coast


Usually high
energy beaches
with wide stretches
of open sand


How many eggs?


About 80 eggs per
nest and many
smaller, 'yolkless'
eggs




About 150 eggs
per nest ('yolkless
eggs rarely seen)




About 120 eggs
per nest ('yolkless'
eggs rarely seen)


How nlany nests?


Average 5-7 nests
per season
(reported from the
scientific literature)



Average 4-5 nests
per season
(reported from the
scientific literature)



Average 3-4 nests
per season
(reported from the
scientific literature)


Marine turtles typically nest during the night, and experience has shown that turtles
generally complete the nesting process in 60 to 90 minutes. By conducting patrols at least
hourly, patrollers will encounter most, if not all, turtles before they return again to the sea.

Note: "Hourly" patrol means that no part of the beach is left unpatrolled for more than one
hour, not that you patrol only once per hour. If, for example, it takes you 15 minutes to
walk down the beach, then you can rest for 30 minutes before you walk back meaning
that you are back where you started in no more than one hour's time.

Start patrols no later than one hour after sunset and continue until sunrise. Early morning
foot patrols should be used to record nesting activity that might have been missed when all-
night patrol is not possible.


I eath rbaS.






Hawk~sbl






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Spotting sea turtle crawls amongst human foot-
prints can be difficult at first. However, a bit of
practice makes recognizing crawls easy! Hold a
dim flashlight low and nearly parallel to the
ground to illuminate the beach, but don't let the
beam shine too far ahead of you. When you see
a crawl (Figure 3), determine if the turtle is still
on the beach and, if so, what she is doing. Turn
off your flashlight so as not to disturb the turtle;
let your eyes adjust and scan the area. Approach
the turtle from behind to determine her activity.

If you do not see the turtle, slowly follow the
crawl until you locate her position. If the turtle
has not begun to lay eggs and the beach is not
long, you may have time to finish the patrol and
return to the turtle for data collection.

If she is already laying her eggs (or covering her
nest), check for flipper tags as a priority so that
her identity can be known.


IDENTIFY THAT

CRAVWL

, Leatherback
Crawl Pallern Svninielrn:al (front
flippr ers. mi:i e in uLinis,:,n)
MVa. -uIlLI WiJlh 150- 250 cm

- Hawksbill
Crawl Pallern Avmmennlrical (front
flirppers, allernale. :lne Ihen the
:,Iher)
Maximum Width. 70 85 cm

' Green
Crawl Pattern: Symmetrical (front
flippers move in unison)
Maximum Width: 100 130 cm


Figure 3. (a) Leatherback crawls are symmetrical; (b) Hawksbills, which tend to nest in or near beach
vegetation, have an asymmetrical crawl pattern (i.e. one front flipper moves forward, then the other).
Photos: (a) Seth Stapleton, (b) Rowan Byrne






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


A "false crawl" meaning that the turtle returns to the sea without laying any eggs is a
common occurrence resulting from factors ranging from very dry (or very wet) sand to
barking dogs or other disturbances. Whether the nesting is successful or unsuccessful, drag
your foot across the track, making a large 'X', so the crawl will not be double-counted in
your nightly tally.

If the turtle is no longer on the beach, you will need to rely on "crawl signs" to identify the
species and the outcome of the crawl. First, make certain that the crawl leads back to the
sea if it does not, the turtle is still on the beach! Consider the outcome a NEST onlyif you
observe eggs. In the absence of visual confirmation of eggs, an area with a large amount of
disturbance that appears to be a nest site can be classified as a SUSPECTED NEST.
Suspected nests can later be confirmed if, for example, hatchlings are seen.

A FALSE CRAWL is indicated when there is no body
pit or the egg chamber was clearly abandoned before
eggs were laid.

The species can often be determined if the crawl or -- -
.). .
nest is fresh. Crawl width and symmetry are spe- -
cies-specific (see Insert, "Identify that Crawl!"). -,-
Habitat characteristics can also be useful. A deep. -
body pit in an open, sandy nesting site is most likely .. -
a Green turtle (Figure 4), whereas a modest distur- F 4 y
Figure 4. Green sea turtles typically cre-
bance close to vegetation is more likely a Hawksbill. ate a deep nesting pit. Photo: Edith van
der Wal (Aruba)


III. TAGGING SEA TURTLES

While beach patrols provide information about the number and species of sea turtles using
particular beaches, marking individual turtles for long-term identification can provide more
detailed information, such as how many years pass before a female returns to Dominica to
nest again, how many nests an individual turtle lays in a year, etc. Tagging also provides
data about sea turtle size and growth. Finally, knowing the identity of a turtle can shed
light on long distance movement; for example, tags are often reported or returned when a
turtle is located or killed in another country.

The 2007 nesting season in Dominica provides an excellent example of the information that
can be gathered from marking turtles. In 2007, each Leatherback tagged while nesting in
Dominica was seen, on average, three times and each laid an average of 2.6 confirmed nests
(Stapleton and Eckert 2007). (Note: This number would have been higher had each and
every nest been observed and recorded.)






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Five Leatherbacks tagged
by other sea turtle moni-
toring programmes (Puerto
Rico, St. Lucia, Grenada,
and Trinidad) also nested
in Dominica in 2007, and 8
Leatherbacks traveled be-
tween Dominica, Guade-
loupe and Martinique (see
SStapleton and Eckert 2007)
(Figure 5).
-- Dominica
Leatherbacks tagged Similarly, more than half
on other islands nesting of all Leatherbacks tagged
in Dominica
while nesting in Dominica
Leatherbacks tagged
in Dominica nesting in 2007 were seen on more
on other islands
on______________ than one nesting beach in
Dominica. For example,
Leatherbacks seen nesting
Sat La Plaine might later be
found laying eggs at Rosa-
lie or Londonderry (Staple-
ton and Eckert 2007).


Figure 5. Nesting leatherbacks moved between Dominica and several A number of methods are
other Caribbean islands during 2007. Source: adapted from Stapleton available for marking tur-
and Eckert (2007) tles, ranging from paint-
ing and shell notching to
metal or plastic flipper
tags and computer microchips (Eckert and Beggs 2006). Each technique has its benefits
and drawbacks, and methods are generally chosen based on project objectives and financial
considerations (some tags are more expensive than others). The two most common tags are
external flipper tags and internal PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags.

Flipper tags are modified livestock ear tags applied with a specialized applicator. Applied
correctly, the tag tab pierces the turtle's flesh and a clasp secures the tag to the flipper. A
unique identification number and return address are inscribed on either side of each metal
flipper tag. Metal flipper tags are widely used and relatively inexpensive. PIT tags,
computer microchips about the size of a grain of rice and more expensive than flipper tags,
are injected under the skin and provide a more permanent mark.






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Getting Started
The tagging procedures described here have been adapted from Eckert and Beggs (2006)
and their manual should be consulted for additional detail.
Metal flipper tags are coated in animal-based oils (often ostrich oil!) during production, and
these oils can result in infection. Always clean tags thoroughly to remove the oily residue
before you apply the tag to the turtle's flipper. Use a biodegradable cleaning solution, such
as Simple Green, to wash the tags and follow-up with hot, soapy water and a 24-hour soak
in alcohol. Rinse and dry tags prior to storage and use. A thorough cleaning reduces the
risk of infection and increases the probability that the tag will remain on the turtle for
many years.
Each Beach Pack should be given a certain
number tags (10-20), based how many tur- I TAI N
FLIPPER TAGGI NG
ties the patroller might see that night.

Record all tag numbers as soon as the tags
are distributed. Each patroller is respon-
sible for his or her tags. A small plastic n CLEAN all flipper tags thoroughly as soon as
bag, safety pin, or fishing line will help to you receive them
keep flipper tags organized in the Beach
Pack during beach patrols. O RECORD all tag numbers immediately

Flipper Tagging D On the beach, WAIT until the turtle is laying
Nesting sea turtles are protected in Dom- eggs before you approach to tag her
inica (Appendix V). Tagging sea turtles re-
quires a permit from the Forestry, Wildlife 0 Check ALL 4 FLIPPERS for existing tags
and Parks Division, and formal training is
required prior to tagging. D Select the correct TAG, and tagging SITE

For Leatherbacks, the larger 'monel' tags RECORD tag n ber(s) on your data for
U RECORD tag numbers) on your data form
are placed in the thinnest section of skin
between a rear flipper and the tail (Figure A
l APPLY tags with a firm, swift motion .
6). Run your fingers along the flesh until
you identify the thinnest portion of skin.
O te t t o i Be sure that the tag is attached properly, an
Do not place the tag too close to the tail!
RE-CHECK the tag number
Leave a small amount of space (a few mil-
limeters) between the curved edge of the El Make sure that each turtle has TWO fipper
tag and the edge of the flipper, tags before she leaves the beach!






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Hard-shelled sea turtles (Greens, Hawksbills)
should be tagged on the front flippers in the
flipper 'pads' closest to the shell (Figure 6).

Use the larger 'monel' tags or the smaller
'inconel' tags (pictured at right) with Green '
turtles. Use only the smaller 'inconel' tags
with Hawksbills.

First, examine thoroughly all four flippers :
front and rear for tags. Other projects may -.
tag in different location or use different types of tags than you do. Make note of possible
tag "scars" which might appear as holes or tears in the turtle's flesh or flipper pads. If a
turtle is already carrying tags, she does not need additional tags.

Before applying any new tag(s), be sure to read the tag numbers) carefully and write them
in the appropriate place on the data form.

After the tags have been applied, re-check that the correct tag numbers have been recorded.
It is easy to misread a tag amidst the excitement of a nesting turtle and crowds of people!
















Figure 6. In Dominica, (a) flipper tags are applied to a Leatherback in the skin between the tail and
the hind flipper (note the posterior point of the carapace on the left edge of the photo); (b) flipper tags
are applied to a Hawksbill or Green turtle through the center of the first or second 'pad' (on the trailing
edge of the front flipper) closest to the body. Photos: Seth Stapleton



Nesting turtles should have two flipper tags before they leave the nesting beach. 'Double-
tagging' increases the chance that at least one tag will remain to identify the turtle in fu-
ture years.






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Do not approach a turtle for tagging until she enters the 'nesting trance', and then wait
until the mid stages of egg-laying to begin tagging. Do not interfere with a sea turtle that
is still in the process of selecting a nest site, body-pitting, or digging the nest. During
pauses in her crawling (or digging) you may be able to read rear flipper tags discreetly
using a dim light, approaching her from behind.

It is difficult (for you) and stressful (for the turtle) to tag her as she is returning to the sea.
Restraining a sea turtle, especially a Leatherback, can be impossible. An organized and
consistent patrol schedule is the best strategy for encountering turtles early in the nesting
cycle, and successfully tagging them.



(a) (c)










Figure 7. A Monel 1005-49 style metal flipper tag (a-b) correctly loaded and (c) cinched in the application
pliers. ALWAYS align the base plate of the tag flat against the pliers. Note the tine bent over and
completely through the stirrup. Source: http://www.nationalband.com/nbt.pdf



Tagging applicators (or pliers) are
used to attach flipper tags. Select
the appropriate tag and applicators.

Load the tag by pressing the 'V' end
of the tag into the applicator pliers
until it fits snugly into place (Figure
7).

When the tag is correctly seated in
the applicator pliers, both hands are
needed to squeeze the applicator in a
*...o Afirm, smooth motion to ensure that
the tag cinches properly (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Use a firm, swift motion to apply flipper tags to
nesting sea turtles. Photo: Seth Stapleton

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


After applying the tag, check the underside of the tag to verify that the tab is closed, the tag
is securely attached, and the tag is not pinching the flipper.

Hint: to get a better feel for how much pressure to apply, it is useful to practice tagging on a
sheet of heavy cardboard.

The turtle may move slightly during tagging; a swift, strong tagging motion helps to reduce
any reaction to the tagging. If you sense that the turtle was disturbed by tagging, take a
few steps back, turn off your lights, and wait a few moments before continuing.

If a tag must be removed for any reason, use two pairs of needle-nosed pliers to grasp and
unclasp the tag, or use wire-cutters to cut the tag and pull it carefully through the turtle's
flesh. Put any removed tags in your Beach Pack, do not discard them on the beach. Record
on the data form the number of the tag you removed. Write down why the tag was removed
and carefully record the numbers) of any new tag(s) applied.

Do not remove existing tags unless they are causing harm (such as infection) to the turtle.
Instead, record the tag numbers and, if the tag was not issued to your project, flip the tag
over and write down the return address. Contact the WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging
Centre (Prof. Julia Horrocks, Coordinator: (246) 417-4320, julia.horrocks@cavehill.uwi.edu)
at the University of the West Indies in Barbados to report tag numbers applied by scientists
in other countries, or submit this information to DomSeTCO, the Forestry, Wildlife and
Parks Division, or the Fisheries Division in Roseau.

PIT Tagging

Applying PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder)
tags is considered to be more invasive than ap-
plying flipper tags and should be done only under
the guidance of workers experienced with the
technique. If you are considering this technique,
contact the WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging
Centre and seek advice from experienced PIT
tagging colleagues in the Caribbean region.

PIT tagging is not a substitute for flipper tag-
ging, but is best used together with flipper tag-
ging. A PIT tag is injected under the skin, gener-
ally into muscle, using a needle applicator pro-
vided by the manufacturer (Figure 9). Most PIT Figure 9. A PIT tag injected into the front right
shoulder of an adult Leatherback. Photo: Seth
tags and applicators are pre-sterilized and pack- Stapleton
aged for field use.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


For further detail on PIT tag purchase, field use, and record-keeping, please refer to Eckert
and Beggs (2006) "Marine Turtle Tagging.'A Manual ofRecommended Practices'.


IV. MEASURING SEA TURTLES

Measuring the carapace (shell) of a sea turtle
provides information on the turtle's growth from
year to year, as well as information about the
average size of the sea turtles that nest in Dom-
inica. Sea turtles are measured either in a
straight line using tree calipers, or over-the-
curve using a flexible measuring tape.

Curved Carapace Length notch-to-tip (CCLn-t)
is the distance from the nuchal notch (the shell
edge directly behind the head) along the mid-
line to the shell's furthest tip. Curved Carapace
Width (CCW) is the maximum shell width
(Bolten 1999). See Figure 10.

Use a flexible measuring tape to obtain the CCL
and CCW measures. For CCLn-t, place the end
of the tape at the shell edge (nuchal notch),
straighten the tape along the length of the shell,
and record the measurement at the most distant
portion of the shell (Figure 11 a).

For CCW, align the '0' of the tape with one edge
at the widest portion of the shell, just behind the
front flippers (Figure lib). Stretch the tape over
the shell to the opposite edge so that the tape is
perpendicular to the CCLn-t measure.

Leatherbacks are large (CCL often exceeds 1.5
meters!), and two people may be required to
measure size accurately.

Figure 11. Researchers measure (a) Hawksbill CCLn-t
in Antigua and (b) Leatherback CCW in Dominica.
Photos: (a) M. Watkins-Gilkes, (b) Seth Stapleton


Figure 10. CCLn-n ("NN") extends from the
nuchal notch in the shell to the notch above the
tail. CCLn-t ("NT") extends from the nuchal
notch to the furthest shell tip. Use "NT" !


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NT






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


When using a measuring tape, be sure the tape lies flat and in a straight line; remove kinks
from the tape and excess sand from the shell. Always record the measurement in centi-
meters (cm), and make careful note of injuries, deformities, or other distinguishing features
such as barnacles or algae (Figure 12). Injuries provide an index of turtle encounters with
predators, fishing gear, and boats, and unusual characteristics can help identify a turtle
that has lost its tags. If possible, include a sketch or photograph with the data form.


Figure 12. Injuries and distinguishing features, such as (a) barnacles on a Hawksbill's shell, (b) an am-
putated rear flipper and (c) lacerations caused by (d) fishing gear are important to note on the data form.
Some injuries, such as when the shell is broken or shortened, can result in inaccurate measurements and
should be noted clearly on the data form. Photos: Seth Stapleton


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


V. CHARACTERIZING HABITAT

To better understand how sea turtles use Dominica's beaches, and what type of habitat(s)
they prefer, always record basic measures that characterize the nesting site. Over the
years, this information will help managers understand how patterns of beach use, nest site
selection, nest loss to erosion, etc. can change over time.

Divide the beach length into sectors of approximately equal size. Structure the sectors to
best characterize your beach, providing a suitable (but not excessive!) amount of detail. For
example, a 300 meter long beach may be divided into 10 segments of 30 meters in length or
6 segments of 50 meters in length. It would not make sense to divide a 300 meter beach
into 150 2-meter segments (too much detail) or 2 150-meter segments (not enough detail)!

Natural landmarks such as streams or rock outcroppings can provide ideal beach divisions.
In addition, 'permanent' features such as large tress or rocks, a road entrance, or a built
structure near the beach can mark beach sectors as described above. When existing land-
marks are unavailable, place signs, posts or rocks (at the vegetation line), as necessary, to
mark beach sectors. To ensure that the boundaries are visible by flashlight (torch) at night,
number your markers with reflective tape or white (or reflective) paint.

Make a map of your beach sectors and their labeled markers, including photocopies, and
store these in a safe place. This is an important document and will be needed every year.

A Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellite technology to calculate an exact position.
Different GPS units record data differently, so be careful that you understand the details.
Record the latitude and longitude on the data form.

In addition to location, document the following on the data form (see Record-Keeping, and
Appendix IV):

> Distance to the high water line (HWL) defined as the distance from the nest to the
furthest reach of tidal waters, often marked by a row of debris and seaweeds. Using the
large measuring tape, align the '0' with the nest, have a partner hold the tape in place,
and walk toward the sea with the other end of the measuring tape in-hand until you
reach the high water mark. Record your measurement to the nearest tenth of a meter.

> Distance to the vegetation edge (VE) defined as the distance from the nest to the edge
of the closest line of permanent vegetation. Again, align the '0' with the nest, have a
partner hold the tape in place, and walk to the nearest vegetation edge with the other
end of the tape in-hand. Record your measurement to the nearest tenth of a meter. If
the nest is located in vegetation, measure VE in the same manner and record on the
data form that the nest was located in the vegetation.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Figure 13. HWL is measured from the nest to the highest point that the water has reached,
and VE is measured from the nest to the edge of the closest vegetation.



VI. MOVING SEA TURTLE EGGS

In Dominica, nesting sea turtles and eggs are protected by law (Appendix V). Handling sea
turtle eggs without a permitfrom the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division is an illegal act.

Leatherbacks, in particular, prefer "high energy" beaches and there is a natural amount of
egg loss to erosion each year. Managers can counter this loss by moving eggs laid in high
risk areas, to areas of lower risk. For example, eggs can be moved to an area higher on the
same beach (closer to the vegetation) or to a nearby beach where erosion is less likely.

Of course eggs must always be moved properly and in accordance with international best
practices: eggs should be moved within 12 hours of egg-laying, they should be moved gently
and carefully (to minimize breakage or damage), and they should be moved to a beach that
has suitable incubation characteristics (e.g. similar sand composition), preferably one where
sea turtles from the same colony are known to nest.

Before we discuss the specifics of nest relocation, it is useful to have a little background on
nest site fidelity meaning a turtle's tendency to return repeatedly to a particular beach.
Popular belief holds that an adult female will return to nest precisely on the beach from
which she hatched. While sea turtles show a strong attraction to the general area of their
birth (for example, the East coast of Dominica), Leatherbacks show a bit less site fidelity
than do other sea turtle species (for a recent summary, see Braiutigam and Eckert 2006).
Leatherbacks are more likely to consider a small island's entire coastline (which may
include several sandy beaches) as a single nesting ground.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Data collected in Dominica demonstrate this behaviour: more than half the Leatherbacks
reported on Dominica's nesting beaches in 2007 were recorded on multiple beaches over the
course of the nesting season. Some even traveled between Dominica and other Caribbean
islands, depositing clutches of eggs in more than one country (Stapleton and Eckert 2007).
Over time this has been a successful strategy for this species with the Leatherback's habit
of nesting on coastlines with strong wave action, an entire season's young might be lost to
erosion if all the eggs were laid in one place.


To reduce the risk of egg loss to erosion (or
poaching), "nest relocation" the act of re-
moving the eggs from their natural nest
and creating a new, exact copy of the nest
somewhere else is a widely used manage-
ment option. The following nest relocation
procedures are modified from Boulon (1999)
and Mortimer (1999). For more detail,
please review the original sources (find
these online at www.widecast.org).

Cautionarynote: It is always best to allow
eggs to remain in their original setting if
erosion, over-wash, or poaching do not pre-
sent a significant risk. Relocate eggs only
as a last resort, and remember that Govern-
ment permits are required.

Eggs contain fragile embryos that will not
survive rough handling. If the nest must be
moved, use extreme care during the collec-
tion, transfer, and reburial of eggs. Collect
the eggs as they are laid, placing them
gently into a clean bag or bucket set next to
you in the sand.

Some people prefer to fit a plastic bag into
the nest, such that the eggs are laid directly


N EST RE LOCAT O N

CH-ECKLIUST


D Relocate eggs ONLY IF absolutely
necessary, and then as soon as possible!

D CAREFULLY collect eggs in a clean bag or
container

D Locate a SAFE, nearby reburial site

D GENTLY transfer eggs to the reburial site

D Be the turtle! Dig a new nest BY HAND, and
confirm that the new nest is the right depth

D CAREFULLY (by hand!) place the yolked
eggs in the nest; smaller, yolkless eggs go on top

D BACKFILL the nest with damp sand, gently
tamping the sand as you continue

0 Place NEST MARKER in the nest, map the
nest's location, and record it on the data form


into it. In that case, care must be taken to dig


the bag out, generally from the back of the nest. The natural "light-bulb" (flask) shape of
the nest means that you cannot pull the bag straight up and out without breaking the eggs.

If a nest has already been covered, locate and excavate the eggs with care (see Nest
Emergence and Excavation).


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


To reduce the risk of bacterial transmission during next excavation, wear latex gloves. If
the eggs are in a bucket, prevent moisture loss by covering them with a damp (not wet)
cloth. Measure and record the depth and width of the original nest chamber so that you
will have a guide for the dimensions of the new nest chamber (Figure 14).


Figure 14. (a) A Leatherback lays her eggs and (b) a RoSTI staff member reburies a nest at London-
derry Beach, Dominica. Photos: Seth Stapleton


Figure 15. Images from elsewhere: (a) eggs collected for relocation in Nevis, West Indies and (b) nests
carefully reburied at 1-meter intervals at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Photos: (a) Alicia Marin, (b) Jamie Pena.

Once the eggs have been collected, they must be reburied as quickly as possible, preferably
within one hour. Identify a suitable reburial site nearby, ideally on the same beach.
Minimize the distance traveled and, if possible, eliminate the need for vehicle transport.
Do not travel excessive distances to relocate nests; for example, you would not transport a
nest from Portsmouth to Rosalie. If a vehicle is required, take care that the eggs are held
securely in place and do not chill the eggs through exposure to air-conditioning.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Nests should not be reburied too close together a good rule is that nests be reburied no
closer than 1 meter (3 feet) apart on all sides (Figure 15b). After selecting a suitable site,
use your hands to dig a new nest chamber. Match the dimensions of the new nest to those
of the original nest. As a guide, Leatherback nests are typically about 70 cm deep, Green
turtles about 60 cm deep, and Hawksbills about 50 cm deep.

Carefully place eggs into the new egg chamber by hand (see Insert: "Nest Relocation Check
List"). Do not dump or drop the eggs from the collection bucket or bag into the new nest.

Leatherbacks (and occasionally other species) lay two types of eggs: yolked eggs that may
develop into hatchlings, and small, irregular yolkless eggs that will never develop into
hatchlings. Count the eggs as you set them in the nest, making certain to separate the
yolked and yolkless eggs. When you rebury the eggs, place the yolkless eggs last (on top).
Cover the eggs, replacing into the nest several centimeters of the naturally damp sand that
you removed when you dug the egg chamber. Continue backfilling until the nest surface is
even with the surrounding beach surface. Finally, label a segment of plastic flagging tape
with the turtle's tag numbers and nest date, and insert it just beneath the surface of the
sand. This marker will provide important information later when the nest is dug after the
hatchlings are gone. If you are concerned that poaching remains a threat, rebury eggs at
night and scatter dry sand across the site to minimize evidence of digging.

Record on the Sea Turtle Sight-
ing Form (Appendix IV) whether
- and where the nest was relo-
cated. Watch the site closely 55
75 days later for evidence of
hatching (Figure 16). If the nest
is lost (such as to poachers, pred-
ators, or erosion), make a note on
the original data form.

If there is no practical area for
reburial, then you may need to
consider identifying an area for a
hatchery. A hatchery must be in
an area protected from erosion,
at least one vertical meter above
the highest tide levels, and must Figure 16. Baby sea turtles leave small tracks that are miniature
versions of their mothers' tracks. Photo: Carol Stapleton
be large enough to allow nest
spacing of 1 m between nests.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Cautionarynote: Enclosed hatcheries (cf. Figure 15b) require a major investment of man-
power and money, they artificially concentrate nests (in some cases increasing the risk of
erosion or poaching), and they generally reduce hatch success (although the trade-off is
acceptable if the nest would likely be completely lost in its original location). Consistent
monitoring and fencing is generally needed to protect nests from predators and poachers.
Watch for hatchlings, release them immediately. To maintain a healthy incubation envi-
ronment (e.g. reduce concentrations of metabolic gases and/or bacteria), discard the waste
collected from excavated nests (e.g. hatched shells, rotten eggs) in the surf. Discarding this
material nearby will attract predators to your hatchery. The hatchery site should be moved
to a new location every 1-2 years. See Mortimer (1999) for details.



VII. NEST EMERGENCE AND EXCAVATION

While beach patrols and tagging help us understand the numbers and types of sea turtles
nesting in Dominica, conservation programmes also need to estimate hatch success -
defined as the number (proportion) of eggs that hatch and/or the number of hatchlings that
make it safely to the sea. Identifying causes of nest failure can help you determine if
management practices, such as nest relocation, are necessary. To estimate hatch success
and assess possible causes of nest failure, nests are excavated meaning that they are dug
and their contents categorized (see Appendix IV: Nest Excavation Data Form). It can be a
messy job, but it provides essential data about reproductive success.

Hatchlings typically emerge and crawl to the sea after 55 75 days. During this 'hatch
window', watch nests closely. Visit, al 1-I,-1 ,,Iily. n.--I- lh,,i
are due to hatch. Usually hatchlings ,',, I l'I.m 11I.- n.--i 1
the sea in a few minutes (Figure 17).

'. -- 2 .. .--I-.










Figure 17. A Leatherback nest hatches in the early evening, leaving dozens of tiny tracks as evidence of
the hatchlings' race to the sea. Photos: (a-b) Jenny Freestone (Antigua), (c) Didiher Chac6n (Costa Rica)


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


To an untrained eye, hatchling tracks may appear similar to crab or other small animal
tracks. A little practice will help you correctly identify sea turtle tracks look for a large
number of tracks with a central point of origin. A hatched nest will create a slight depres-
sion, as the sand collapses into the space vacated by the hatchlings (Figure 17a). Both the
nest depression and the hatchlings' tracks are easily erased by tides, rain, and beach traffic.


SORTINGj NEST

CONTENTS By

CATEGORY

- Hatched egg shells
- Hatchlings: Live, dead, or deformed
r Unhatched eggs:
: Rotten contents show signs of decay,
e.g. rainbow colors and/or 'chunkiness'
SEmbryo unhatched baby turtle or any i
sign of embryo development
Early Tiny, pink embryos
may be the size of a penc
Late Larger embryos


Usually the majority of a nest's hatch-
lings emerge together. However, they
may also emerge and crawl to the sea
in small groups. If you witness a hatch,
keep your distance and do not interfere
with their race for the sea. Gently free
any hatchling that becomes trapped by
beach debris or tyre tracks, or becomes
disoriented by shoreline lighting.

Nest excavations are easiest to com-
plete within 1-2 days after hatchling
emergence. Nest contents decompose
quickly, becoming more difficult to
excavate and catalog. If 75 days pass
with no signs of emergence, consider
excavating the nest to assess reasons)
for nest failure.


Undeveloped No sign of em Wear latex or rubber gloves to reduce
development and no signs l exposure to bacteria. Using your
Deformed An improper hands, gently scoop sand from the
embryo: e.g. twins, mil nest, carefully unearthing the eggs and
double head .iiI separating the hatched egg shells from
.-Pipped Partiallyti unhatched eggs and any live hatch-
lings (Figure 18a). Be as delicate as
possible while removing the contents. E 4-h.ll4 are fragile, and they are much easier to
categorize when intact, and don't forget that there may be hatchlings remaining in the nest!
Continue to scoop and sort nest contents until you reach the bottom of the egg chamber.

If you have trouble pinpointing the exact location of a nest, find a thin, stiff stick to use as a
probe. At the possible nest site, gentlypress the stick into the sand, paying close attention
to the resistance you feel. You will feel less resistance as you probe the nest site the sand
in the egg chamber is less dense than the surrounding sand.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Once the nest contents have been removed, identify and categorize the contents and record
them on the Nest Excavation Data Form (Appendix IV). Place any live, active hatchlings on
the sand to crawl to the sea. Very weak hatchlings can be placed in a dark container for
release later in the evening. Count whole unhatchedd) eggs, as well as hatched e&-lll-]
that appear to consist of more than half of an entire shell. Carefully open each unhatched
egg by pinching the shell and tearing it open. Be careful egg contents are under pressure
and can squirt upon opening. Examine the contents of unhatched eggs for signs of embryo
development and categorize appropriately (see Insert, previous page). Look carefully along
the inside of the shell for small embryos and blood vessels that indicate early development;
these signs are easily missed. Each turtle is counted only once on the data form; e.g. a dead
mid-term embryo missing a front flipper is cataloged in the 'deformity' category or the 'late-
term embryo' category (more correctly the former), but not both.

Live 'pipped' (partially hatched) turtles nearly completed hatched can be helped from the
shell and held to allow the shell to straighten, or reburied in a bucket with damp, loose,
shallow sand and given an opportunity to emerge on their own. Place pipped eggs and
hatchlings in a container stored in a dark, cool, quiet location until they are ready for
release. All hatchlings should be released during darkness. Remember to keep flashlights
off; lights confuse sea turtles. Gently shake the container and move the hatchlings in your
hands to awaken inactive, sleepy turtles. Be sure to allow the turtles to crawl for a few
meters along the sand into the surf. Never place hatchlings directly into the sea.

If the excavated nest was located in a hatchery, collect the egg contents and toss them in
the surf or bury them in an area regularly washed out to sea, or an area away from the
beach so they do not attract predators. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards!


















Figure 18. (a) Contents of a Hawksbill nest are separated into piles of hatched shells and unhatched
eggs; (b) recently emerged Green turtle hatchlings are ready to crawl to the sea. Photos: Seth Stapleton


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


VIII. RECORD-KEEPING

Accurate record-keeping is an important part of conservation. An occasional data collection
error is unavoidable; even an experienced biologist may forget to document the time or
measure a turtle! However, it's important to try to limit errors data is most useful when
it is complete and accurate. High quality data helps Government and communities alike
make the best management decisions. And after spending long, challenging hours on the
beach, you want to make sure that your data forms are as useful as possible!

A data form must be completed for each
nesting activity and each turtle encoun-
tered. For example, if you witness 3 false
crawls and 2 successful nests during a
beach patrol, five (5) data forms must be
completed. Complete the data forms
immediately (as shown in Figure 19); do
not try to remember details and expect
that you will be able to accurately record
this information later.


The Sea Turtle Sighting Form (Appen- Figure 19. Record all data immediately, while you are
dix IV) is designed to document nesting, still with the turtle. Photo: Jumby Bay Hawksbill
but in-water observations can also be Project.
recorded on this form.

The first line of the data form is used to record the date and time. Record the date in DAY-
MONTH-YEAR format, and remember that the date changes at midnight! 'AM' refers to
times in the morning (after midnight and before noon); 'PM' refers to the afternoon and
evening (after noon and before midnight). Record the TIME when you first encounter the
animal. Write down the NAMES of each beach patroller present (Observers) and record the
NUMBER of Guests. Note the beach NAME and LOCATION and, if applicable, the beach
SECTOR where the crawl took place.

Record the SPECIES (or 'Unknown'), GENDER (egg-laying turtles are always female), and
how you determined the species: did you see an adult turtle, a juvenile, a hatchling, or just
a nesting crawl? If you saw a turtle, what was its CONDITION: alive or dead? Carefully
record crawl width, circle the correct crawl pattern, and take the turtle's measurements.
(Note whether a damaged carapace has affected the measurement.) Record the ACTIVITY
you first noticed when you saw the turtle: searching for a nest site, body-pitting, digging
the nest, laying eggs, covering the nest, returning to the sea, or stranded (dead).


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The most important part of data collection is the turtle's identity. Carefully read and
RECORD TAG NUMBERS; if you apply a new tag, remember to write the tag numbers)
down before you apply the tag. Check the appropriate box to show whether the flipper tag
was Old (already present) or New(just applied), located on the Front or Rear flipper and on
the Right or Left side (her right or left, not yours). Note the location of any possible tag
scars, and record the tag numbers of any tags that were Destroyedor Lost during tagging.

If the turtle crawled ashore, be sure to check the result: CONFIRMED NEST, SUSPECT-
ED NEST, or FALSE CRAWL. A nest is only 'Confirmed' if you see eggs! For Leather-
backs, record both yolked and yolkless EGG COUNTS (note: for other species, all eggs are
assumed to be yolked). Record whether eggs were collected and REBURED; if so, write the
time (collected, reburied) and the reburial site. In the NOTES section, describe injuries,
barnacles, measurements to nearby landmarks (to help you relocate the nest at hatching),
evidence of predators, poaching, etc. The PAGE NUMBER is not filled out in the field; all
data forms are numbered sequentially in a notebook by the database manager.

Use the Nest Excavation Data Form (Appendix IV) when you exhume the contents of a
hatched nest. Record Dates, Times, Observers, Beach Location, Species, and Guests as de-
scribed above. Write the adult turtle's tag numbers and note what Evidence (if any) was
present to indicate that the nest hatched. Record how many live and dead hatchlings you
see on the beach, as well as the Date, Time, and Number of Turtles Released under the
Hatchlings Released heading. You'll also see that this data form contains blanks corres-
ponding to all egg categories discussed in the ExcavatingNests section.

Read and review your data form one last time to make sure you have been as thorough as
possible. Designate a secure area where you can store all of your project's data forms. The
data manager should collect your completed data forms on a regular basis; data should be
computerized and annual reports submitted to the permitting agency. WIDECAST can
provide database management software and training. For information about data entry and
database use, refer to the WIDECAST Regional Marine Turtle Database.' User's Manual
(Eckert and Sammy 2005).



IX. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Population monitoring and related research is essential to better management of the deple-
ted sea turtle resource, but effective conservation and recovery programmes need to do
more than patrol beaches and count sea turtle eggs. Teaching your community and the
whole of Dominica about sea turtle conservation issues (and marine conservation issues in
general) is another incredibly important task!


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Dominica is a diverse country. Your education and outreach programmes need to appeal to
many different people: rural East coast farmers and Roseau businessmen, elders and stu-
dents, fishers and taxi drivers. Expect lots of different questions, some simple, some com-
plex, some controversial. Regardless of the activity and the audience, always be prepared
to answer questions! In the sections below, we'll discuss some effective ways to communi-
cate you conservation message.

Turtle Watches

There's nothing quite like seeing an enormous turtle lumber out of the sea, scoop sand with
agile hand-like flippers, and lay dozens of eggs in hopes of contributing to the next genera-
tion of sea turtles. 'Turtle Watching' is a memorable hands-on way to teach people about
sea turtles ... but it's also a very vulnerable time for the turtle. Egg-laden females can be
disturbed and disoriented by artificial lights (including torches/flashlights and camera
flashes), noise, and unexpected movement. Nesting is the only reason that Caribbean sea
turtles return to land after hatching, and excessive disturbance can cause a female to aban-
don this important activity. To ensure a safe environment for the turtle, your visitors, and
yourself, emphasize and enforce internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. Appendix III).
Guided 'Turtle Watches' can also generate employment for your community; contact the
Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO) for more information.



TURTLE WATCH-IN: Do's atnd Don'ts

SGive the turtle PLENTY OF SPACE at least 30 feet (10 m) before she begins laying
her eggs and after she has completed laying her eggs. Only approach a turtle when she
is laying her eggs.
SLIGHTS may only be used while the turtle is laying her eggs. The light should be dim, and
should never be directed to the face of the turtle.
> Flash PHOTOGRAPHY may disorient or temporarily blind a turtle. Only take photographs
while the turtle is depositing her eggs, and then only from behind.
> Limit visitor NOISE and movement. Pay attention to your Guide.
> View the nesting turtle in SMALL GROUPS and limit viewing time to make sure that all
have a chance to see the nesting process.
> Turtles may only be TOUCHED very gently while they are laying eggs, but only as
permitted by project staff or your tour guide. Never RIDE turtles.
> Take your RUBBISH with you as you leave the beach. Adult turtles and hatchlings may
become trapped or entangled in any rubbish found on the beach.
SRemind visitors that nesting sea turtles and eggs are PROTECTED in Dominica!


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Figure 20. (a) 'Turtle Watches', (b) beach clean-ups, (c) hands-on sharing, and (d) classroom presenta-
tions are just some of the ways to spread the message of sea turtle conservation. Photos: S. Stapleton



School Programmes

Speaking to school groups, either in the classroom or on the beach (Figure 20), can be a very
effective and enjoyable outreach technique. Kids are enthusiastic and excited to share their
sea turtle experiences, and they will often bring the conservation messages home to their
parents and others in the community.

Always take the age of your audience into consideration! Ideas need to be presented differ-
ently to 6-year olds than to 13-year olds. Incorporating simple games and art activities,
especially with younger children, is a great way to get them involved in the lesson and
thinking about the marine environment. An interactive slide show, puppet show, or photos


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that you can pass around the class can reinforce your message. Contests and quizzes are
fun for all ages and they can be useful in encouraging participation in group discussions.

WIDECAST has provided DomSeTCO with a variety of educational tools, including class-
room lessons (Harold and Eckert 2005), summer camp programmes, children's books, a sea
turtle slideshow, and various technical materials. These are suitable for all ages and can be
useful in planning activities and creating templates for creative outreach. Ask a local
library, Government office, or DomSeTCO if you can borrow a slide projector, as needed.

Media

The media reaches thousands of people island-wide, everyday. Radio, television, newspa-
pers, magazines ... they all help to publicize marine conservation issues and shape public
opinion. With the growing popularity of sea turtles in Dominica, the media continues to be
an important conservation partner. Prepare press releases. Invite the media to special
events. Agree to be interviewed for a radio programmes. Keep sea turtles in the news!

General Comments

Many people don't have the opportunity to personally view a nesting or hatching turtle ...
yet we still want them to feel a sea turtle shell, see how the backbone and ribs fit together,
and marvel at how small the eggs and hatchlings are! For this purpose, the Forestry,
Wildlife and Parks Division keeps a small sea turtle natural history collection in Roseau.
Inquire with Forestry to learn if you may borrow these materials for your education
programmes. Cautionary note: Do not collect sea turtle shells, eggs, or other parts for
personal use or display. Remember, sea turtles and their eggs are protected by law.

We've touched on just a few of the many ways to communication a conservation message to
the general public. Other ideas that have been successfully used in the past include 'Hatch-
ling Day', summer camp, internship programmes, publicly-displayed murals, beach clean-
ups, and appearances at events such as DiveFest and Scott's Head / Soufriere Marine
Reserve Day. The possibilities are endless, so don't be afraid to try something new! Domin-
ica is your island, and you know best how to teach your fellow citizens. Be creative and
have fun your enthusiasm will spread!



X. SOLVING COMMON PROBLEMS

Disoriented Turtles

Sea turtles can be confused and misdirected by artificial lights. For detailed recommenda-
tions; advice for architects, planners and hotels; contact information for lighting manu-
facturers; and model lighting ordinances, see Witherington and Martin (2000).


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Hatchlings, and to a lesser extent nesting females, are strongly affected by artificial lights
and may wander inland toward hotel and road lighting, sports fields, and security lights of
one kind or another. Even beach fires can be deadly, especially to hatchlings (Figure 21).
Solving this issue requires dialogue with those responsible for the lights.

An absence oflighting is the best guarantee that sea turtles will safely find the ocean, but
where this is not an option several "next best" solutions have long been available. For
example, Witherington (1990) proposed: (1) shielding and lowering light sources (low inten-
sity lighting at low elevations can be both attractive and adequate for most purposes; the
glow can be shielded from the beach by ornamental flowering hedges or other barriers), (2)
alternative light sources (e.g., low pressure sodium (LPS) lighting is known to be less
attractive to hatchlings than full-spectrum white light), (3) time restrictions (turn lights off
during evening hours when hatching is most likely to occur; e.g., 7 PM to 11 PM), (4) motion
sensitive lighting (sensor-activated lighting comes on only when a moving object, such as a
person, approaches the light; this might be effective in low traffic areas), and/or (5) area re-
strictions (restrict beach lighting to areas of the beach where little or no nesting occurs; the
effectiveness of this is diminished, however, since sources of light several kilometers away
can disrupt hatchling orientation).

Lighting associated with people on the nesting beach can also pose a problem. Strict light-
ing guidelines should be enforced (see "Turtle Watching. Do's and Don'ts): flashlights/
torches/ headlamps should be dim and aimed downward, camera flashing should be con-
fined to the late egg-laying phase, and no light should be shined in the turtle's face.


















Figure 21. Artificial lights, including (a) beachfront developments and (b) bonfires, disorient and confuse
adult sea turtles and hatchlings, often misdirecting them away from the sea and to their deaths. Photos:
(a) Ticiana Fettermann, (b) Alicia Marin


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If a turtle is disoriented by fixed lighting (e.g. a house or street light), try using your body to
block her from crawling in the wrong direction and redirect her to the sea. Don't worry, she
isn't going to knock you down and crawl over you! She will try to avoid you, so carefully
placing yourself is a very helpful means to redirect her movements. It can be painful to be
struck by a sea turtle flipper, so standing a meter or two in front of her shoulder is wise.
With stubborn turtles you may need to use a flashlight/torch to light a return path to the
sea. Do not shine a light from the sea back to the turtle. Instead, stand behind the turtle
and shine a light to the sea from behindthe turtle at a low angle.

In the case of confused hatchlings, be sure that all flashlights are turned off and that other
artificial light sources are blocked (again, use your body!). In the absence of artificial lights,
hatchlings typically correct their path to the sea and do not require further assistance. If
they are unable to redirect themselves, gently collect them, carry them (a short distance) to
the nearest place on the beach that is unaffected by lights, and turn them towards the sea.

Hatchlings must be allowed to orient and crawl to the sea, do notplace them directlyin the
waves. Scientists believe that those first steps to the sea may help set the 'compasses' that
will guide the hatchlings offshore and, ultimately, bring them home again as adults.

Poaching and Predators

Finding a slaughtered turtle carcass or a destroyed nest (Figure 22) is a frustrating and
disheartening experience. Despite your efforts, poachers and animal predators may contin-
ue to present a serious threat to adult females and their nests.


(b)
















Figure 22. (a) A carapace and a few eggs are all that remain of a Leatherback killed illegally in Domin-
ica in 2007. (b) A RoSTI staff member investigates the remains of a sea turtle nest partially destroyed by
dogs. Photos: Seth Stapleton


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Although the results of poaching and predation can be discouraging, do not lose hope! Be
diligent with your beach patrol schedule. Your presence on the beach will help to safeguard
the turtles from poachers and predators. Try not to leave turtles unattended. Disguise
nesting activities by walking across crawls, dragging palm fronds over the area, scattering
dry sand over the nest sites or, if necessary, relocating eggs (see Moving Sea Turtle Eggs).

Be careful keep in mind that, while sea turtle conservation is very important and reward-
ing work, no turtle is worth putting yourself in harm's way. Report illegal activity. Seek
the assistance of the Police, the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, and other authori-
ties. Alerting the media to illegal activity can also help focus attention on the problems
that poaching whether of sea turtles or other endangered species pose to the nation and
the future generations of its citizens.

While animal predators are clearly part of the natural cycle of life, some predators, such as
dogs, have been introduced to the environment and can be incredibly destructive to sea
turtles and other endangered wild creatures. Dialogue with dog owners is the first step to
reducing the presence of dogs on nesting beaches. Fenced hatcheries are one solution to the
loss of eggs to unsupervised dogs; the 'caging' of individual nests can also be effective. This
type of management decision must be made in consultation with experts and authorities.

Sick and Injured Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are susceptible to variety of injuries, ranging from amputations from encounters
with boat propellers or sharks to entanglement in fishing gear and embedded fishing hooks.
Refer to WIDECAST's Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures' A Field Guide (Phelan
and Eckert 2006) to learn how to respond to sick and injured sea turtles that you encounter
on the beach or in the water. This Field Guide, as well as other useful references, are
available from the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO). Caution-
arynote: Do not attempt to treat a sea turtle without expert assistance, and never bring a
sick or injured sea turtle or hatchling home.

Equipment Maintenance

Sand, salt, wind and water are tough on field equipment, and some wear and tear is una-
voidable. Routine maintenance and precautionary measures can help to extend equipment
life. Regularly lubricate the hinges and springs of tagging pliers with WD-40 or similar
spray lubricant to keep them working properly. Keep electronic equipment in sealed plastic
bags on the beach. Regularly inspect and wipe away salt and sand from gear, as necessary.

Questions?

Questions about research and conservation protocols, sea turtle regulations and law en-
forcement, and problems encountered can be directed to local authorities (see Contact List).


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XI. LITERATURE CITED

Bolten, A.B. 1999. Techniques for Measuring Sea Turtles, p.110-114. In K.L. Eckert, K.A.
Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research and Management
Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle
Specialist Group Publ. No. 4.

Boulon, R.H. 1999. Reducing Threats to Eggs and Hatchlings: In Situ Protection, p.169-174.
In K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research
and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles. IUCN/ SSC
Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4. Washington D.C.

Brfiutigam, A. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. Turning the Tide. Exploitation, Trade and Manage-
ment of Marine Turtles in the Lesser Antilles, Central America, Colombia and Vene-
zuela. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK. 533 pp.

Byrne, R. 2006. 2006 Annual Project Report- Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI). Pre-
pared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment (Forestry,
Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 25 pp.

Byrne, R. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. 2004 2005 Biennium Project Report. Rosalie Sea Turtle
Initiative (RoSTI). Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the En-
vironment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, W. Indies. 51 pp.

Dow, Wendy, Karen Eckert, Michael Palmer and Philip Kramer. 2007. An Atlas of Sea
Turtle Nesting Habitat for the Wider Caribbean Region. The Wider Caribbean Sea Tur-
tle Conservation Network and The Nature Conservancy. WIDECAST Technical Report
No. 6. Beaufort, North Carolina. 267 pages, plus electronic Appendices

Eckert, K.L. and J. Beggs. 2006. Marine Turtle Tagging. A Manual of Recommended Prac-
tices. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 2. Revised Edition. Beaufort, North Carolina.
40 pp.

Eckert, S.A. and D. Sammy. 2005. WIDECAST Regional Marine Turtle Database. User's
Manual Version 3.0. Beaufort, North Carolina. 60 pp.

Franklin, A., R. Byrne and K.L. Eckert. 2004. 2003 Annual Report. Rosalie Sea Turtle Initi-
ative (RoSTI). Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Envi-
ronment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 57 pp.

Harold, S. and K. L. Eckert. 2005. Endangered Caribbean Sea Turtles. An Educator's
Handbook. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Technical
Report No. 3. Beaufort, North Carolina. 176 pp.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


IUCN. 2007. IUCNRedList of ThreatenedSpecies. URL: www.redlist.org. Accessed 2007.

Mortimer, J.A. 1999. Reducing Threats to Eggs and Hatchlings: Hatcheries, p.175-178. In
K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research
and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles. IUCN/SSC Mar-
ine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4.

Phelan, S.M. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures' A Field
Guide. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Technical Re-
port No. 4. Beaufort, North Carolina. 71 pp.

Stapleton, S.P. and K.L. Eckert. 2007. Nesting Ecology and Conservation Biology of Marine
Turtles in the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. RoSTI 2007 Annual Project
Report. Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment
(Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 45 pp.

Witherington, B.E. and R.E. Martin. 2000. Undrinl,~/in,.: Assessing and Resolving Light
Pollution Problems on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches. Florida Marine Research Institute
Technical Report TR-2. 73 pp.


Witherington, B. 1990. Photopollution on sea turtle nesting beaches' problems and next-
best solutions, p.43-45. In T.H. Richardson, J.I. Richardson and M. Donnelly (Com-
pilers), Proceedings of the 10th Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Biology and Conserva-
tion NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-278. U. S. Dept. Commerce.



















Figure 23. Local youth enjoy participating in a sand
sculpture competition after a beach clean-up in La
Plaine, Dominica. Photo: Seth Stapleton


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


XII. GLOSSARY


Body-pitting During the nesting process, egg-bearing sea turtles clear away dry, surface
sand using sweeping flipper motions
Carapace The topside (back) of a sea turtle's shell
Confirmed Nest A nesting activity in which egg-laying is visually confirmed
Curved Carapace Length (CCL) A measurement following the midline of the carapace,
extending from the nuchal (see Nuchal) notch to the furthest posterior tip of the shell
Curved Carapace Width (CCW) A size measurement taken at the widest part of the
carapace (typically just behind the front flippers) and perpendicular to the midline
Egg Chamber The hole into which the turtle lays her eggs
Embryo A still-developing turtle fully enclosed in the egg
False Crawl A nesting attempt that does not result in egg-laying
Flipper Tag A uniquely numbered metal or plastic tag attached to the front or rear flipper
used to identify individual turtles
Global Positioning System (GPS) A device using satellite technology to calculate an exact
position
High Water Line (HWL) The distance from the nest to the highest point reached by the
sea
Keratin Rough protein substances forming various biological tissues including hair,
protein, and scutes (see Scutes)
Neophyte a sea turtle that is nesting for the first time
Nest (see Confirmed Nest)
Nesting Trance The period of the nesting process (egg-laying) when a sea turtle may be
approached for data collection
Nuchal, or Nuchal Notch The edge of the carapace directly behind the turtle's head
Pipped Egg A partially hatched egg; an egg in which the turtle has partially emerged
PIT Tag Passive Integrated Transponder; a uniquely coded microchip, injected just
beneath the skin, used to mark individual animals
Plastron The bottomside (belly) of a sea turtle's shell
Remigrant A sea turtle that is not nesting for the first time, but has nested in Dominica
in previous years (this is confirmed by the presence of flipper tags)
Scute The thin, colorful plates covering the carapace of a hard-shelled sea turtle
Suspected Nest A nesting activity that likely resulted in a nest, but eggs could not be
visually confirmed (confirmation may come later, such as when eggs are seen to have
washed away, or hatchlings emerge)
Vegetation Edge (VE) The distance from the nest to the closest vegetation edge


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XIII. CONTACT LIST


Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation
Organization (DomSeTCO)
Mr. Errol Harris
Chairman
P.O. Box 939, Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: (767) 448-4091
Cell: (767) 275-0724, (767) 613-6630
domsetco@gmail.com
errolmar@cwdom.dm

Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division
Ministry of Agriculture and the
Environment
Botanical Gardens, Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: (767) 266-3817
forestry@cwdom.dm

Fisheries Division
Ministry of Agriculture and the
Environment
Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Blvd
Roseau Fisheries Complex
Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: (767) 448-2401
fisheriesdivision@cwdom.dm


Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force
Police Headquarters
Bath Road, Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: (767) 448-2222
dompol@cwdom.dm

WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging
Centre
Prof. Julia Horrocks
Coordinator
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus (P.O. Box 64)
Bridgetown, Barbados
Tel: (246) 417-4320
Fax: (246) 417-4325
julia.horrocks@cavehill.uwi.edu

WIDECAST: Wider Caribbean Sea
Turtle Conservation Network
Dr. Karen Eckert
Executive Director
1348 Rusticview Drive
Ballwin, Missouri
63011 USA
Tel: (314) 954-8571
keckert@widecast.org
Visit www.widecast.org!


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Figure 24. As Ihe lasl sea luille of Ihe
nighl relLuns safely lo Ihe ocean, a
satisfied beach palroller enjoys a col-
ourful sunrise. Photos: Seth Stapleton


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-Am
cam *^o^^-

.:, L -::







Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


APPENDIX I: IDENTIFYING DOMINICA'S SEA TURTLES

Caretta caretta: Loggerhead (Eng), Caguama (Sp), Caouanne (Fr)

SPhysical Characteristics


.---







Adult (top)






r-'
r '* -
1'- .1 ; .



Adult (bottom)

.::, t, .,-i -






Hatchling


Head


* Named for: Relatively large head (up to 10
inches [25 cm] in width)
* Length-adult: Carapace (upper shell) length
of 3-4 feet (ca. 1-1.2 m)
* Lencth-hatchling: Carapace length of 1.7-
1.8 in (ca. 44-48 mm)
* Weight-adult: to 400 Ib (ca. 100-180 kg)
* Color-adult: Carapace is red-brown; plastron
(belly) is light yellow to light brown
* Color-hatchling: Uniform in color, red-brown
to grey-black

Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting

* Peak nesting: May-July
* Number of nests: On average, 3-4 per year
at 13-15-day intervals
* Average clutch size: 100-120 eggs per nest
* Incubation time: ca. 50-75 days


Global Status

* Endangered (World Conservation Union:
IUCN); international trade prohibited by
CITES; protected under the Protocol con-
cerning Specially Protected Areas and
Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Con-
vention; protected under the Inter-American
Convention for the Protection and Conser-
vation of Sea Turtles


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Chelonia mvdas: Green Turtle (Eng), Tortuga verde (Sp), Tortue verte (Fr)

Physical Characteristics

Named for: Color of body fat (tinted from a
diet of seagrass)
Length-adult: Carapace (upper shell) length
A of 3-4 feet (ca. 1-1.2 m)
-., ._'r .o Lencth-hatchling: Carapace length of 1.9 in
r (ca. 49 mm)
S-Weiqht-adult: to 400 Ib (ca. 120-180 kg)
Color-adult: Carapace usually mottled gray,
green, brown and black; plastron (belly) is
pale yellow
-L'* Color-hatchling: black carapace, white plas-
tron

Adult (top) *
Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting


Adult (bottom)


-- .. '
Ht h




Hatchling


Head


* Peak nesting: May-September
* Number of nests: On average, 3-5 per year
at 12-14 day intervals
* Average clutch size: 110-140 eggs per nest
* Incubation time: 50-70 days


Global Status

*Endangered (World Conservation Union:
IUCN); international trade prohibited by
CITES; protected under the Protocol con-
cerning Specially Protected Areas and Wild-
life (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Conven-
tion; protected under the Inter-American
Convention for the Protection and Conserva-
tion of Sea Turtles


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Dermochelvs coriacea: Leatherback (Eng), Tortuga Laud (Sp), Tortue luth (Fr)

Physical Characteristics

Named for: Lack of a bony carapace (upper
shell); leathery skin
Length-adult (female): Carapace length of
4.5-6 feet (ca. 1.4-1.8 m), with 7 ridges
Lencth-hatchling: Carapace length of 2.4-
2.6 in (ca. 60-65 mm)
Weight-adult (female): 550-1400 Ib (ca.
250-650 kg) [males to 2000 Ib (920 kg)]
Color-adult: Carapace and plastron (belly)
both gray/black with white or pale spots
Color-hatchling: Carapace is black with
Adult (top) white spots, plastron is mottled black and
white


Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting

Peak nesting: March-July
Number of nests: On average, 6-9 times per
year at 9-11 day intervals
Average clutch size: 80-90 [yolked] eggs per
nest
Incubation time: 50-75 days


Global Status
Adult (bottom)
*Critically Endangered (World Conservation
Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited
by CITES; protected under the Protocol con-
cerning Specially Protected Areas and Wild-
life (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Conven-
tion; protected under the Inter-American
Convention for the Protection and Conserva-
tion of Sea Turtles
Hatchling


Head


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


Eretmochelvs imbricata: Hawksbill (Eng), Tortuga Carey (Sp), Tortue imbriquee (Fr)

I lPhysical Characteristics


-? ,







Adult (top)


Adult (bottom)









Hatchling


Head


* Named for: Hawk-like beak
* Length-adult: Carapace (upper shell) length
of 2-3 feet (ca. 60-90 cm)
* Lencth-hatchlinc: Carapace length of 1.6-
1.8 in (ca. 40-45 mm)
* Weight-adult: 132-176 Ib (ca. 60-80 kg)
* Color-adult: Carapace is brown, black, and
amber; Plastron (belly) is yellow
* Color-hatchling: Uniform in color, grey or
brown

Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting

* Peak nesting: April-November
* Number of nests: On average, 4-5 times per
year at 14-15 day intervals
* Average clutch size: ca. 160 eggs per nest
* Incubation time: 50-75 days


Global Status

*Critically Endangered (World Conservation
Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited
by CITES; protected under the Protocol con-
cerning Specially Protected Areas and Wild-
life (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Conven-
tion; protected under the Inter-American
Convention for the Protection and Conserv-
ation of Sea Turtles


,-40.- -- ---'I-
--- -;^^^


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~rr -
I-.-,
-- ~






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8

APPENDIX II: SEA TURTLE NESTING IN DOMINICA

The Commonwealth of Dominica's sea turtle nesting beach maps are presented for the
three species known to nest on the island: Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill
(Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles. Natural fluctuations
are observed in the numbers of sea turtles coming ashore to nest each year. These maps
are designed to represent the number of crawls occurring at a particular beach in an
'average' year, according to the best available information.

Information on the level of nesting occurring at the various sites was compiled from several
sources, including: consultations with officers of the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division
(particularly Stephen Durand and Charles Watty), the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation
Organization (Errol Harris), and the Fisheries Division (Harold Guiste); as well as informal
discussions with local community members, original data and Annual Reports from the
Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (Franklin et al. 2004, Byrne 2006, Byrne and Eckert 2006,
Stapleton and Eckert 2007), and information summarized by Dow et al. (2007).

Beach coordinates were obtained using a handheld Global Positioning System unit (Garmin
International, Inc., Olathe, KS, USA), supplemented with satellite imagery (Google Earth
v. 4.2; www.earth.google.com) as needed. The Dominica shoreline was obtained from the
World Vector Shoreline of the Caribbean Region (U.S. Geological Survey and National Geo-
spatial-Intelligence Agency; http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/pubs/of2005-1071/data/background
/carib bnds/carib wvs geo wgs84meta.htm). Maps were constructed using ArcGIS 9.2 (En-
vironmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, California), and beaches are repre-
sented by a single point approximating the beach midpoint.

Beach length: Because the vast majority of beaches in Dominica are very small, beaches
were more readily displayed as single points than as beach length segments. In all cases,
however, data were also collected for beach endpoints so that beach length can be calculated
from the dataset available.

Beach width: Based on regular cycles of erosion and accretion, as well as storm events,
beach width changes in predictable and unpredictable ways each year. Therefore, estimates
of beach width were not included in this mapping exercise.

These maps provide baseline data that should be continually reviewed and improved for
maximal usefulness to management. Confirmation concerning the distribution and abun-
dance of the annual nesting effort is still needed for beaches "thought to support nesting",
and more confidence is needed in distinguishing between Hawksbill and Green turtle nest-
ing sites, as it is clear that some observers still confuse the two species.


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8



LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE NESTING BEACHES
IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA
Swaieh Hampstead

Thibaud alibishie
Toucari .ointe Baptiste
Bell Hall-. y/!Woodford Hill
Blenhelm /Nalker's Rest
Purple Turt B u Jimmy's Bay
Big Bottom
Glavillia--- Hodges BaBig BottoAllmans
AIIman's
CoconutL'anse Noire Breakfast
L'anse Tortu aba
Sa(Londonderry)
Melville Hall
Sand Bay
(Marigot)
Hatten Garden

Castle Bruce


Rosalie
Ravine Cyrique
N Bord La Mer

Bout Sable


*These beaches are thought to support nesting, but at
unknown levels (probably fewer than 25 crawls per year)



0 WIDECAST DomSeTCO
Wi4dr Caribbwe Sea Turte COmcraon, Netwo r
Prepared by WIDECAST and DomSeTCO, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development @ 2008


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25 100 crawls / year


O Fewer than 25 crawls / year

o Unknown crawls / year*






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE NESTING BEACHES
IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF tOMINICA


5A
--
c~


Purple Turtle
Glanvilli
Coconut-
Secret Beach













N


A


*I Fewer than 25 crawls / year
e Unknown crawls / year* I
*These beaches are thought to support nesting, but at
unknown levels (probably fewer than 25 crawls per year)


SWIDECAST DomSeTCO
Wider Caribban Sea Tumtfe Coerviton Nertwoi
Prepared by WIDECAST and DomSeTCO, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development @ 2008


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


GREEN SEA TURTLE NESTING BEACHES
IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA


N


Fewer than 25 crawls / year
o Unknown crawls / year*
'These beaches are thought to support nesting, but at
unknown levels (probably fewer than 25 crawls per year)


EWIDECAST
W hfr Caribbean Sea Turte Consrvation Networ


DomSeTCO
- la S Tneh Co'rvn n SO- ni.teIq i


Prepared by WIDECAST and DomSeTCO, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development 2008


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


APPENDIX III: TURTLE WATCHING GUIDELINES




TURTLE WATCHING


Sea turtles have lived in the ,i,' r, s oceans for more 'iin 150 million 'it.
,tflU these ancient reptiles are now .oI'dlllit threatened with extinction. Atln IA
populations are declining as a result 'fpre r'it,-nI hunting, increasing coastal
development, incidental capture in fisheries, the degradation and destruction of
r, -Iin.: beaches, and marine pollution. You can help to protect them by following
ith,- simple guidelines.

Developed in collaboration ,iith ith I V\',hi Caribbean Sea T,o th, Conservation
Network (WIDECAST), these guidelines are intended to give general advice only
be sure to find out about local rules and regulations.


All species of sea turtle are .-id.]ngel'ed and need our protection
a Turtles breathe air just like us, which means the\ can drown if the\ are
prevented from r, ai hirvr the surface of the sea
Litter is dangerous, ,-..pi i.ll\ plastic bags which can be mistaken for
i '1l ftih a favourite turtle food
Turtles remain in the same area for years and, as adults, return to the
same nesting area year after year if a nesting colony is destroyed, the
turtles may never return

WH T- 'Jij CAN DO
Support local sea turtle conservation initiatives consider volunteering!
P.nlu I I p. in local sighting networks and complete all sirhting forms
Do not buy or sell sea turtle products turtles are strictly protected
under CITES (Convention on International Trade in riiidi',i.: I.'I Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora) and most national laws

ON THE WATER
Keep a good look out for sea turtles while boating boat strikes can kill
When in the water, keep your distance and avoid startling turtles; avoid
disturbing r,- -inl, ;l-Tpir, or actively feeding turtles
To ensure that encounters are as unthreatening as possible, approach
turtles --lIwl'.I and calmly and move away if the turtle shows igtn- of
distress
Never try to spear, harass, catch or ride turtles
Experts advise not to touch or feed wild turtles
a Take all litter home with you: trash can kill, especially when it is mistaken
for food







Pai ; :.,-;'ng in turtle watching programmes actually helps to
protect turtles by raising awareness about them
Be sure to find out about local laws and regulations, as h:- i
may .jf l from these general gul-' -lnr,


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8




TURTLE WATCHING "


ON THE BEACH
During breeding seasons, some special considerations apply to turtle Imn-ing
beaches.
Avoid damage to inLublting nests for example, avoid driving on a turtle
nesting beach or using these beaches for camp fires or barbecues
Do not leave large items (such as chairs, umbrellas or recreational vehicles)
on nesting beaches at night these can obstruct a turtle's path and prevent
egg-laying
Keep pets, especially dugs, away as they can endanger eggs and hatchlings
Keep beach lighting to a minimum artificial lighting disorients turtles
Shield or switch off liIhliting which is \ iible from the beach

Watching nesting turtles
Seeing an adult turtle come on shore to lay her eggs is an unforgettable
experience. However, on land turtles are very vulnerable and if sla riled, a
female turtle may return to the sea before her eggs can be Lt1 .--t-ull) laid.
Please follow these simple rules when watching nesting turtles.
Keep disturbance to a minimum stay quiet and move around slowly
Do not approach turtles as t1hey arrive from the sea: they are a.lil)
frightened off
Turtles that have not yet laid their egg- must be left alone
Make minimal use of flashlights; never shine lights directly into a turtle's face
Try not to "trap" turtles arppl % .ch from behind and keep low to the ground
Move away if the turtle shows signs of distress
Turtle eggs and hatchlings should be left undisturbed
Consider limiting viewing to 30 minutes at a time

Photography
Flash photography of nesting turtles is a controversial topic. In some places this
constitutes harassment and is illegal If using a camera flash, do so sparingly and:
Never take photographs before a turtle has laid her eggs
Only take photographs from behind the turtle the flash will ktmpiai ril\
"blind" her and complicate her return to the sea

Hatchling turtles
Try to shield hatchlings if they appear disoriented by beachfront lighting -
place yourself between the hatchlings and the light source, and ask that
the lights be turned off long enloughl for the hatchlings to reach the sea
Do not interfere with their crawl to the sea as this could jeopardize their
survival
Never photograph hatchlings the\ are very sensitive to light


p.0-



SneCoral AliaHUnce (CORA,) is a mnwilr- Visit the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle
s supported, non-profit internaliOndl orgairiation Conseration Network (WIDECAST) website at
S' dedic.aid keeping coral r vs alive around tlhe http://www.widecast.org for more information S
World Visit our wei hltp://www coral.ori on marine turtles and turtle conservation

SCORAL. Ihese guidelin es may Ix reproducd ami distriblukd fl ielvy so long as Ih a I hr rprqoductd in their entireity
and Ihe CORAl copy right is include d. Suggl;',ltins for improing Ithel guidelines s',hould Ix sent to intoi;coral.org B


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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8

APPENDIX IV: SEA TURTLE DATA FORMS

Page


.4 DOMINICA SEA TURTLE SIGHTING FORM
Date: _Time Turtle is Encountered: AM / PM

Obse-ers.___ No. Guests:

Beach Name: Beach Section:

Location (GPS): Latitude Longitude

Turtle Species: Gender: Female / Mlale / unknown

Identified by: [ Adult H Juveuile DHatchling Condition: 0 Alive H Dead

or, E Crawl/Nest Crawl Width: cm Crawl Pattern: Symmetrical / Alremaring
Activity (circle): Onshore: Crawling Digging Laying Covering Retuing Stranded
At sea: Swimming Feeding Resrmg Eurangled

Tag #1: _____ OLD or H NEW /I RIGHT or I-LEFT /1 FRONT or H REAR

Tag #2: OLD or DNEW/ I RIGHT or LEFT/ FRON or FRREAR

Tag'scars'? EDYes INo Destroyed or Lost tags?

Result: I -Nest (eggs confirmed) H] Suspected Nest I False Crawl (no eggs)

Egg Counts: Yolked large) eggs Unyolked (small) eggs

AWere the eggs collected and reburied? H Yes [ INo
Ifyes, Time: Collected AM / PM Reburied A_ AM / PN
Reburial Beach: Reburial Site (GPS): Lat Long_
Turtle Size: CCL-NT cm C C W __ cm Carapace Damaged? IYes H INo

) NT Descriptions (parasites, injuries) and Notes (location landmarks, evidence of

poaching or other threats etc.). Please continue on reverse. (Write legibly'i


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Prepared by te Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservaton Network (WIDECAST) and the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation
Organization (DomSeTCO), with funding from the United States A erxy Fr International Development. 2008







Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8


DOMINICA SEA TURTLE NEST EXCAVATION FORM

Date Nest Hatch Observed: Date Nest Excavated:

Time Nest Hatch Observed: Time Nesi Excavated:

Observers:

Beach Name: Beach Section:

Location (GPS): Latitude Longitude

Turtle Species: Date Deposited:

Tag Number(s) for the Nesting Female:

Hatch Evidence: ]Tracks E Hatchlings C Depression LINone


Hatch Results
Live Harcilings out of nest: Dead Hatchlings out of nest:
Live Hatchlings m nest: Dead Hatchlings in nest:
Hatched Shells:
Rotten: U__ndeveloped (not rotten):
Pipped (partially hatched) Alive: Pipped Dead:
Full-Term Embryo (unharchledi Alive: Full-Term Embryo Dead:
Early-Term Embryo:
Yolkless:
Deformed Embryo (for example, twins, albino):


Hatchling Release
Date: Time:
Number of Turtles Guests:


Notes:






Prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) and the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation
Organization (DomSeTCO), with fuhn ng from re L.'nlte States Agency fo International Development. 2008


-46-






Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Procedures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8

APPENDIX VI: FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE ACT, CHAPTER 60:02






Laws of Dominica
Forestry and Wildlife Act
Chapter 60:02, Act 12 of 1976
Amended by Act 35 of 1982
Amended by Act 12 of 1990


Chapter 60:02
Section 21
Ninth Schedule



Regulations for the taking of sea turtles

1. The word 'turtle' shall be deemed not to include the tortoise or land turtle
(Geochelone carbonaria).

2. No person shall:
Catch or take or attempt to catch or take any turtle between the 1st June and
the 30th September both dates inclusive,
Catch or take or attempt to catch or take any turtle which is under twenty
pounds in weight
Disturb any turtle nest or eggs or take any turtle eggs, or take or attempt to
take any turtle laying eggs or on the shore engaged in nesting activities.


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SWIDECAST
Caribbean Sea Turt(e Conservation Network




Full Text

PAGE 1

Seth P. Stapleton and Karen L. Eckert WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 2008 COMMUNITY-BASED SEA TURTLE RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION IN DOMINICA: A MANUAL OF RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

PAGE 2

Note: This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development. It was prepared by WIDECAST under a subcontract with Chemonics International Inc. under the terms of USAID Caribbean Open Trade Support Program, Contract No. AFP-I-02-04-00002-01. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the United States Government. For bibliographic purposes, this document should be cited as: Stapleton, Seth P. and Karen L. Eckert. 2008. Community-Based Sea Turtle Research and Conservation in Dominica: A Ma nual of Recommended Practices. Prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) and the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO), with funding from the U. S. Agency for International Development. WIDECAST Technical Re port No. 8. Beaufort, North Carolina. 47 pp. ISSN: 1930-3025 Cover Photo courtesy of Seth St apleton (Rosalie Bay, Dominica) Copies of this publicatio n may be obtained from: Dominica Sea Turtle Conservati on Organization (DomSeTCO) P.O. Box 939, Roseau Commonwealth of Dominica Tel: (767) 448-4001 E-Mail: domsetco@gmail.com Online at www.widecast.org

PAGE 3

COMMUNITY-BASED SEA TURTLE RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION IN DOMINICA: A MANUAL OF RECOMMENDED PRACTICES Seth P. Stapleton Karen L. Eckert 2008 D omSeTCO Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization

PAGE 4

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 ii

PAGE 5

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 iii PREFACE AND INTENT For more than 25 years the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), with Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, has linked scientists, conservationists, natural resource users and managers, policy-makers, industry groups, educators, and other stakeholde rs together in a colle ctive effort to develop a unified management framework, and to prom ote a region-wide capacity to design and implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programmes. As a Partner Organization of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme and its Regional Programme for Specially Protecte d Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), WIDECAST is designed to address research and management priorities at national and regional levels, both for sea turtles and for the habitats upon wh ich they depend. We focus on bringing the best available science to bear on contempo rary management and conservation issues, empowering stakeholders to make effective use of that science in the policy-making process, and providing an operational mechanism and a fram ework for cooperation at all levels, both within and among nations. Network participants are committed to working collaboratively to de velop their collective capacity to manage shared sea turtle populations. By bringing people together and by encouraging inclusive management planning, WIDECAS T is helping to ensure that utilization practices, whether consumptive or non-consum ptive, do not undermine sea turtle survival over the long term. Among these capacity bu ilding initiatives is a programme in Dominica, begun in 2003, to demonstrate how sustainabl e management of depleted sea turtle stocks can be accomplished through community-led pr ocesses of engagement, consensus and small business training related to eco-tourism developm ent appropriate to the “Nature Island”. This Manual of Recommended Practices is designed to offer guidance to community-based organizations involved in sea turtle populati on monitoring (on nesting beaches), tagging and measuring of sea turtles, characterizing habitat and nest site selection, documenting hatch success, keeping standardized records, and engaging in public education and outreach. The recommendations are based on the experience and success of Dominica’s Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), and they follow internationally recognized best practices. We dedicate this Manual, the development of which was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to the people of Dominica who are striving to ensure the survival of their se a turtles. Such efforts will surely result in rising populations, and with that recovery will come new economic choices, stronger communities, healthier coastal ecosyste ms, and a better future for all. Karen L. Eckert Executive Director WIDECAST

PAGE 6

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The present-day sea turtle conservation prog ramme in the Commonwealth of Dominica draws its strength from the dedicated efforts of many people over the course of many years. In particular: Adolphus Christian, Stephan Durand, Arlington James, David Williams, Eric Hypolite, Ronald Charles and other Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division staff; Andrew Magloire, Harold Guiste, Al Philbert and No rman Norris of the Fisheries Division; and Inspector Cuffy Williams and fellow officers of the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force. This Manual benefits from their experi ences, as well as from access to established international norms related to sea turtle field research and conservation programming. The authors are grateful to Mr. Errol Harri s (Dominican Sea Turtle Conservation Organization, DomSeTCO), Mr. Stephen Durand (F orestry, Wildlife and Parks Division), Mr. Harold Guiste (Fisheries Division), Dr. Sc ott Eckert (WIDECAST) and Dr. Julia Horrocks (University of the West Indies) for thei r expert review of this document. We would also like to recognize Mr. Rowan Byrne (University of University of Wales, Aberystwyth) and Mr. Allan Franklin (Univers ity of the West Indies, Barbados) for their contributions to sea turtle conservation in Do minica as former Project Directors of the Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), and to the following beach patrollers and data collectors who have contributed countless thous ands of hours documenting and protecting the sea turtles that arrive each year to la y their eggs on the island’s shores: John Alexander, Damian Althnese, Alexander Beaup ierre, Jerome Bruno, Jackson Cadette, John Cadette, Osmond Cadette, Nelly Felix, Gracie n Fontaine, Andre George, Dexter George, Vernon George, MacDonald Greenaway, Brad ley Guye, Julian Frances, Errol Harris, Marcella Harris, Clarisant Joseph, Bonifa s Lawrence, Frances Lawrence, Wenslaus Lawrence, Zuane Prescott, Charles Richards, Dennis Roman, Martin Sorhaindo, Charles Watty, Edward Watty, Jolly Williams, Hannah Williams, and Joelle and Glen of the Northeast, in addition to Stephen Durand, Adolphus Christian, and other current and retired Forestry, Fisheries, Police and othe r Government officers. Similarly, we are grateful for the contributions of the 2003 Ro STI Youth Interns: Beverly Scotland, Mia Beaupierre, Ashlene Giraudel, Darren Esprit, and Regina Joseph We sincerely thank Mrs. Beverly Deikel (Rosa lie Bay Nature Resort) for her support of sea turtle conservation in Dominica over the years, and we are also indebted to members of the WIDECAST network for their willingness to s hare their extensive expertise, provide peertraining, donate technical materials, and supp ort community-based sea turtle conservation and ecotourism programmes in Dominica. Th is publication was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for Inte rnational Development, under the terms of Contract #AFP-I-02-04-00002-01, and by a grant from Diana Gardener and Judson Parsons. The opinions expressed herein are those of th e authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

PAGE 7

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 v TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface and Intent......................................................................................................................iii Acknowledgements.....................................................................................................................iv Table of Contents.........................................................................................................................v List of Figures............................................................................................................................vii I. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................1 II. NESTING BEACH PATROLS.........................................................................................3 III. TAGGING SEA TURTLES..............................................................................................6 Getting Started..........................................................................................................8 Flipper Tags...............................................................................................................8 PIT Tags...................................................................................................................11 IV. MEASURING SEA TURTLES.......................................................................................12 V. CHARACTERIZING HABITAT.....................................................................................14 VI. MOVING SEA TURTLE EGGS.....................................................................................15 VII. NEST EMERGENCE AND EXCAVATION..................................................................19 VIII. RECORD-KEEPING......................................................................................................22 IX. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH..................................................................................23 Turtle Watches........................................................................................................24 School Programmes.................................................................................................25 Media........................................................................................................................26 General Comments..................................................................................................26 X. SOLVING COMMON PROBLEMS...............................................................................26 Disoriented Turtles.................................................................................................26

PAGE 8

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 vi Poaching and Predators..........................................................................................28 Sick and Injured Sea Turtles..................................................................................29 Equipment Maintenance.........................................................................................29 Questions?................................................................................................................29 XI. LITERATURE CITED....................................................................................................30 XII. GLOSSARY................................................................................................................ .....32 XIII. CONTACT LIST........................................................................................................... ..33 APPENDIX I. Identifying Dominica’s Sea Turtles..............................................................35 APPENDIX II. Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches in Dominica ...................................................39 APPENDIX III. Turtle Watching Guidelines.........................................................................43 APPENDIX IV. Sea Turtle Sighting Data Form...................................................................45 Nest Excavation Data Form........................................................................4 6 APPENDIX V. Forestry and Wildlife Act Chapter 60:02 .....................................................47 The next generation Photo by Didiher Chacn C.

PAGE 9

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. (a) Leatherback, (b) Hawksbill, and (c) Green sea turtles are all known to nest in the Commonwealth of Dominica.................................................................................................1 Figure 2. (a) Rosalie and (b) Castle Bruce are two of the many beaches in Dominica where sea turtles come to lay their eggs each year............................................................................. 2 Figure 3. (a) Leatherback crawls are symmetrical, about 150-250 cm wide, while (b) Hawksbills, which tend to nest near or in vegetation, leave asymmetrical crawl patterns, 70-85 cm wide.................................................................................................................. ............5 Figure 4. Green sea turtles typically create a deep nesting pit................................................6 Figure 5. Nesting Leatherbacks moved between Dominica and several other Caribbean islands during 2007. .......................................................................................................... .........7 Figure 6. In Dominica, (a) flipper tags are applie d to a Leatherback in the skin between the tail and the hind flipper; (b) flipper tags are applied to a Hawksbill or Green turtle through the center of the first or second ‘pad’ (on the trailing edge of the front flipper) closest to the body........................................................................................................................... ...................9 Figure 7. A Monel 1005-49 style metal flipper tag (a) correctly loaded and (b) cinched in the application pliers............................................................................................................. ..........10 Figure 8 Use a firm, swift motion to apply f lipper tags to nesting sea turtles.....................10 Figure 9 A PIT tag injected into the front righ t shoulder of an adult Leatherback............11 Figure 10. CCLn-n extends from the nuchal notch in the shell to the notch above the tail. CCLn-t extends from the nuchal notch to the furthest shell tip.............................................12 Figure 11. Researchers measure (a) Hawksbill CCL n-t in Antigua and (b) Leatherback CCW in Dominica................................................................................................................ ......12 Figure 12. Injuries and distinguishing features, such as (a) barnacles on a Hawksbill’s shell, (b) an amputated rear flipper and (c) la cerations caused by (d) fishing gear are important to note on the data sheet. Some injuries, such as when the shell is broken or shortened, can result in inaccurate measurements and should be noted on the data form. ..................13 Figure 13. HWL is measured from the nest to the highest point that the water has reached, and VE is measured from the nest to the edge of the closest vegetation...............................15 Figure 14. (a) A Leatherback lays her eggs and (b) a staff member reburies a nest at Londonderry Beach.............................................................................................................. .....17 Figure 15. Images from elsewhere: (a) eggs collecte d for relocation in Nevis, West Indies and (b) nests carefully reburied at 1-meter intervals at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico...................17

PAGE 10

Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 viii Figure 16. Baby sea turtles leave small tracks that are miniature versions of their mothers’ tracks......................................................................................................................... .................18 Figure 17 A Leatherback nest hatches in the early ev ening, leaving dozens of tiny tracks as evidence of the hatchlings’ race to the sea...............................................................................19 Figure 18. (a) Hawksbill nest contents are separated into piles of hatched and unhatched eggs, and (b) recently emerged Green turtle ha tchlings are ready to crawl to the sea.........21 Figure 19 Record all data immediately – while you are with the turtle..............................22 Figure 20. (a) Turtle watches, (b) beach clean-ups, (c) hands-on sharing, and (d) classroom presentations are just some of the ways to spread the message of sea turtle conservation.25 Figure 21 Artificial lights, including (a) beachfro nt developments and (b) bonfires, disorient and confuse adult sea turtles and hatchlings often misdirecting them away from the sea and to their deaths........................................................................................................ ......27 Figure 22. (a) A carapace and a few eggs are a ll that remain of a Leatherback illegally slaughtered in Dominica in 2007. (b) A staff member investigates the remains of a sea turtle nest partially destroyed by dogs..........................................................................................2 8 Figure 23 Local youth enjoy participating in a s and sculpture competition after a beach clean-up in La Plaine, Dominica...............................................................................................3 1 Figure 24. As the last sea turtle of the night returns safely to the ocean, a satisfied beach patroller enjoys a colorful sunrise............................................................................................ 34

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 1 I. INTRODUCTION The Caribbean Sea is home to six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle. Three of these species are known to nest in Dominica; namely, Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green (Chelonia mydas) turtles (Figure 1; Appendix I). Hawksbill and Green turtles are reside nt; Leatherbacks migrate seasonally from highseas feeding grounds to lay their eggs on Dominica’s windward beaches (Appendix II). Historical accounts include nesting by Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles, but this species has not been seen nesting in the ‘N ature Isle’ in recent memory. Sea turtles survive remarkable odds – an estimated 1 in 1,000 eggs survive to maturity – and adults often make spectacular long-distance migrations between feeding and nesting grounds during complex life cycles. Sea turtles are late-maturing (reproducing for the first time at ages ranging from 12 to more than 40 years, depending on the species) and they can live more than 50 years, making them one of the oldest creatures in the sea. Why would anyone want to conserve sea turtles? The reasons might be economic (a sustainable fishery, a profitable ‘Turtle Watching’ programme); ecological (Leatherbacks eat poisonous jellyfish, thereby protecting humans and benefiting fisheries; Green turtles help keep seagrass meadows healthy, which in turn stabilize coastal sediments and provide nursery habitat; Hawksbills feed on sponges, helping to maintain species diversity in coral reefs, which in turn stabilize our coast and support fisheries); aesthetic (sea turtles comprise a unique and beautiful part of our heritage); and/or moral (they awe and inspire us). Despite the varied reasons people cite for caring about sea turtles, Caribbean (and global) sea turtle populations declined dramatically over the course of the 20th century. Today the World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists all Caribbean sea turtle species as ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’, meaning that, (b) (a) (c) Figure 1. (a) Leatherback, (b) Hawksbill and (c) Green turtles are all known to nest in the Commonwealth of Dominica.Photos: (a) Scott Eckert, WIDECAST, (b-c) Caroline Rogers (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 2 worldwide, these species have suffered adult po pulation declines of at least 50% or 80%, respectively, over their last three generati ons (IUCN 2007). Human threats, including incidental capture by fishing nets, habitat loss and degradation, over-exploitation (including the poaching of turtles and eggs), and pollution are responsible for these declines. The Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI), a project of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), began studying Dominica’s sea turtles in 2003, initially focusing on Rosalie Bay and gradually expand ing to monitor other nesting beaches along the East coast. Partnering with the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, the Fisheries Division, the private sector, and local comm unities, RoSTI gathered valuable information about the nesting ecology of sea turtles, incl uding when and where different species nest (Franklin et al. 2004, Byrne and Eckert 2006, Bryne 2006). Nesting occurs throughout the country from the high energy, Atlantic-facing beaches of the East and North coasts to the calmer Caribbean-facing West coast beaches (Figure 2; Appendix II). Figure 2. (a) Rosalie and (b) Castle Bruce are two of the many beaches in Dominica where sea turtles come to lay their eggs each year. Photos: Seth Stapleton Communities have played a central role in conserving local sea turtle populations and in documenting the abundance and distribution of seas onal egg-laying – and this role will become even more important in the coming years. By becoming active in sea turtle research, conservation and management efforts, beach pa trollers, tour guides and other interested citizens can help to provide a better understandi ng of the biology of sea turtles. This understanding will, in turn, support recommendations and actions to ensure that the sea turtle resource remains healthy and useful for ec onomic, ecological, and cultural uses. Regular beach patrols, identification tagging measuring sea turtles and characterizing nesting habitat, monitoring nest success, and engaging in public education and awareness form the core of Dominica’s national sea turtle programme. Each of these activities should be carried out in accordance with international best practices: the objective of this Manual is to define and explain these “best practices”. (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 3 II. NESTING BEACH PATROLS Regular foot patrolling is a well-established re search technique (e.g. Schroeder and Murphy 1999) that can provide valuable information about the number (and species) of nesting sea turtles, their favoured nesting sites, and trends in their distribution and abundance. In addition, the presence of beach patrollers of ten results in reduced poaching activity. Before becoming involved in nesting beach patr ols, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the nesting process. Sea turtles are hi ghly vulnerable while on land and they can be quite sensitive to lights, noise and movement. Fo r this reason it is essential to limit lights and activity in order to give the turtle every opportunity to complete the nesting process. After emerging from the surf, the turtle pulls herself onto the beach in search of a suitable nesting site. She selects a nest site, creates a ‘body-pit’ using her flippers to brush away dry surface sand, and digs the egg chamber (t he nest into which the eggs are dropped) using her agile hand-like rear flippers. This process usually takes at least 20 minutes, but digging time may greatly increase if obstacle s such as stones, roots or groundwater are present. After the chamber has reached the appropriate depth, the turtle typically lays anywhere from 70 to 160 round, leathery white eggs. During the egg-laying phase a sea turtle is relatively less resp onsive to activity around her – she can be approached by trained data collectors, or viewed more closely by visitors accompanied by a licensed guide. Despite the large number of eggs, egg-laying only takes about 8-15 minutes before the turtle backfills the chamber with sand and ‘camouflages’ the area (by tossing sand with her flippers) before returning to the sea. Beach patrolling is challenging work. Walking in soft sand all night, in all kinds of weather, requires energy and dedication! Be prepared when you head out to the beach: carry a Beach Pack (see Insert) and take care to protect specialty items such as GPS units, PIT tags and scanners, cameras, etc. from sand, ocean spray and weather. BEACH PACK CHECKLIST 20 clean tags, with tag applicator(s) Approved torch (flashlight) or headlamp Measuring tape(s) of the appropriate length(s) Clipboard, dat a sheets, pencils Nylon flagging tape, permanent marker Radio or cell phone, charged batteries Rain gear, insect repellent

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 4 During peak nesting season, patrol the beaches as frequently as possible. Having patrollers on the beach nightly is optimal but may not alwa ys be practical. Be sure to consider the nesting season and preferred nesting beach types for each species of sea turtle (see Insert). Marine turtles typically nest during the ni ght, and experience has shown that turtles generally complete the nesting process in 60 to 90 minutes. By conducting patrols at least hourly, patrollers will encounter most, if not all, turtles before they return again to the sea. Note: “Hourly” patrol means that no part of the beach is left unpatrolled for more than one hour, not that you patrol only once per hour. If, for example, it takes you 15 minutes to walk down the beach, then you can rest fo r 30 minutes before you walk back – meaning that you are back where you started in no more than one hour’s time. Start patrols no later than one hour after suns et and continue until sunrise. Early morning foot patrols should be used to record nesting activity that might have been missed when allnight patrol is not possible. SEA TURTLE NESTING IN DOMINICA When? Where? How many eggs? How many nests? Leatherback Peak nesting from April to June High energy beaches along the East and North coasts About 80 eggs per nest and many smaller, ‘yolkless’ eggs Average 5-7 nests per season (reported from the scientific literature) Hawksbill Occasional nesting year-round; Activity may increase from June – October Small, isolated beaches with mature vegetation, particularly on the West coast About 150 eggs per nest (‘yolkless eggs rarely seen) Average 4-5 nests per season (reported from the scientific literature) Green Turtle Occasional nesting year-round; Activity may increase from June – September Usually high energy beaches with wide stretches of open sand About 120 eggs per nest (‘yolkless’ eggs rarely seen) Average 3-4 nests per season (reported from the scientific literature) (a)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 5 Spotting sea turtle crawls amongst human footprints can be difficult at first. However, a bit of practice makes recognizing crawls easy! Hold a dim flashlight low and nearly parallel to the ground to illuminate the beach, but don’t let the beam shine too far ahead of you. When you see a crawl (Figure 3), determine if the turtle is still on the beach and, if so, what she is doing. Turn off your flashlight so as not to disturb the turtle; let your eyes adjust an d scan the area. Approach the turtle from behind to determine her activity. If you do not see the turtle, slowly follow the crawl until you locate her position. If the turtle has not begun to lay eggs and the beach is not long, you may have time to finish the patrol and return to the turtle for data collection. If she is already laying her eggs (or covering her nest), check for flipper tags as a priority so that her identity can be known. Figure 3. (a) Leatherback crawls are symmetrical; (b) Hawk sbills, which tend to nest in or near beach vegetation, have an a symmetrical crawl pattern (i.e. one front flipper moves forwar d, then the other). Photos: (a) Seth Stapleton, (b) Rowan Byrne (b) IDENTIFY THAT CRAWL! Leatherback Crawl Pattern: Symmetrical (front flippers move in unison) Maximum Width: 150 – 250 cm Hawksbill Crawl Pattern: Asymmetrical (front flippers alternate, one then the other) Maximum Width: 70 – 85 cm Green Crawl Pattern: Symmetrical (front flippers move in unison) Maximum Width: 100 – 130 cm (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 6 A “false crawl” – meaning that the turtle return s to the sea without laying any eggs – is a common occurrence resulting from factors rang ing from very dry (or very wet) sand to barking dogs or other disturbances. Whether th e nesting is successful or unsuccessful, drag your foot across the track, making a large ‘X ’, so the crawl will not be double-counted in your nightly tally. If the turtle is no longer on the beach, you will need to rely on “crawl signs” to identify the species and the outcome of the crawl. First, make certain that the crawl leads back to the sea – if it does not, the turtle is st ill on the beach! Consider the outcome a NEST only if you observe eggs. In the absence of visual confirmation of eggs, an area with a large amount of disturbance that appears to be a nest site can be classified as a SUSPECTED NEST Suspected nests can later be confirmed if for example, hatchlings are seen. A FALSE CRAWL is indicated when there is no body pit or the egg chamber was clearly abandoned before eggs were laid. The species can often be determined if the crawl or nest is fresh. Crawl width and symmetry are species-specific (see Insert, “Identify that Crawl!”). Habitat characteristics can also be useful. A deep body pit in an open, sandy nesting site is most likely a Green turtle (Figure 4), whereas a modest disturbance close to vegetation is more likely a Hawksbill. III. TAGGING SEA TURTLES While beach patrols provide information about the number and species of sea turtles using particular beaches, marking individual turtles for long-term identification can provide more detailed information, such as how many years pass before a female returns to Dominica to nest again, how many nests an individual turtle lays in a year, etc. Tagging also provides data about sea turtle size and growth. Finally, knowing the identity of a turtle can shed light on long distance movement; for example, tags are often reported or returned when a turtle is located or killed in another country. The 2007 nesting season in Dominica provides an excellent example of the information that can be gathered from marking turtles. In 20 07, each Leatherback tagged while nesting in Dominica was seen, on average, three times an d each laid an average of 2.6 confirmed nests (Stapleton and Eckert 2007). (Note: This number would have been higher had each and every nest been observed and recorded.) Figure 4 Green sea turtles typically create a deep nesting pit. Photo: Edith van der Wal (Aruba)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 7 Five Leatherbacks tagged by other sea turtle monitoring programmes (Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Trinidad) also nested in Dominica in 2007, and 8 Leatherbacks traveled between Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique (see Stapleton and Eckert 2007) (Figure 5). Similarly, more than half of all Leatherbacks tagged while nesting in Dominica in 2007 were seen on more than one nesting beach in Dominica. For example, Leatherbacks seen nesting at La Plaine might later be found laying eggs at Rosalie or Londonderry (Stapleton and Eckert 2007). A number of methods are available for marking turtles, ranging from painting and shell notching to metal or plastic flipper tags and computer microchips (Eckert and Be ggs 2006). Each technique has its benefits and drawbacks, and methods are generally chos en based on project objectives and financial considerations (some tags are more expensive than others). The two most common tags are external flipper tags and internal PIT (P assive Integrated Transponder) tags. Flipper tags are modified livestock ear tags applied with a specializ ed applicator. Applied correctly, the tag tab pierces the turtle’s flesh and a clasp secures the tag to the flipper. A unique identification number and return address are inscribed on either side of each metal flipper tag. Metal flipper tags are widely used and relatively inexpensive. PIT tags, computer microchips about the size of a grain of rice and more expensive than flipper tags, are injected under the skin and provide a more permanent mark. Figure 5 Nesting leatherbacks moved between Dominica and several other Caribbean islands during 2007. Source: adapted from Stapleton and Eckert (2007)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 8 Getting Started The tagging procedures described here have been adapted from Eckert and Beggs (2006) and their manual should be cons ulted for additional detail. Metal flipper tags are coated in animal-based o ils (often ostrich oil!) during production, and these oils can result in infection. Always clea n tags thoroughly to remove the oily residue before you apply the tag to the turtle’s flipper. Use a biodegradable cleaning solution, such as Simple Green, to wash the tags and followup with hot, soapy water and a 24-hour soak in alcohol. Rinse and dry tags prior to storage and use. A thorough cleaning reduces the risk of infection and increases the probability that the tag will remain on the turtle for many years. Each Beach Pack should be given a certain number tags (10-20), based how many turtles the patroller might see that night. Record all tag numbers as soon as the tags are distributed. Each patroller is responsible for his or her tags. A small plastic bag, safety pin, or fishing line will help to keep flipper tags organized in the Beach Pack during beach patrols. Flipper Tagging Nesting sea turtles are protected in Dominica (Appendix V). Tagging sea turtles requires a permit from the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, and formal training is required prior to tagging. For Leatherbacks, the larger ‘monel’ tags are placed in the thinnest section of skin between a rear flipper and the tail (Figure 6). Run your fingers along the flesh until you identify the thinnest portion of skin. Do not place the tag too close to the tail! Leave a small amount of space (a few millimeters) between the curved edge of the tag and the edge of the flipper. FLIPPER TAGGING CHECKLIST CLEAN all flipper tags thoroughly as soon as you receive them RECORD all tag numbe rs immediately On the beach, WAIT until the turtle is laying eggs before you approach to tag her Check ALL 4 FLIPPERS for existing tags Select the correct TAG, and tagging SITE RECORD tag number(s) on your data form APPLY tags with a firm, swift motion Be sure that the tag is attached properly, and RE-CHECK the tag number Make sure that each turtle has TWO flipper tags before she leaves the beach!

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 9 Hard-shelled sea turtles (Greens, Hawksbills) should be tagged on the front flippers in the flipper ‘pads’ closest to the shell (Figure 6). Use the larger ‘monel’ tags or the smaller ‘inconel’ tags (pictured at right) with Green turtles. Use only the smaller ‘inconel’ tags with Hawksbills. First, examine thoroughly all four flippers – front and rear – for tags. Other projects may tag in different location or use different type s of tags than you do. Make note of possible tag “scars” which might appear as holes or tear s in the turtle’s flesh or flipper pads. If a turtle is already carrying tags, she does not need additional tags. Before applying any new tag(s), be sure to re ad the tag number(s) carefully and write them in the appropriate place on the data form. After the tags have been applied, re-check that the correct tag numbers have been recorded. It is easy to misread a tag amidst the excite ment of a nesting turtle and crowds of people! Nesting turtles should have two flipper tags before they leave the nesting beach ‘Doubletagging’ increases the chance that at least one tag will remain to identify the turtle in future years. Figure 6. In Dominica, (a) flipper tags are applied to a Leatherback in the skin between the tail and the hind flipper (note the posterior point of the carapace on the left edge of the photo); (b) flippertags are applied to a Hawksbill or Green turtle through the c enter of the first or second ‘pad’ (on the trailing edge of the front flipper) closest to the body. Photos: Seth Stapleton (b) (a)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 10 Do not approach a turtle for tagging until she enters the ‘nesting trance’, and then wait until the mid stages of egg-laying to begin tagging. Do not interfere with a sea turtle that is still in the process of selecting a nest si te, body-pitting, or digging the nest. During pauses in her crawling (or digging) you may be able to read rear flipper tags discreetly using a dim light, approaching her from behind. It is difficult (for you) and stressful (for the turtl e) to tag her as she is returning to the sea. Restraining a sea turtle, especially a Leather back, can be impossible. An organized and consistent patrol schedule is the best strategy for encountering turtles early in the nesting cycle, and successfully tagging them. Figure 7. A Monel 1005-49 style metal flipper tag (a-b) correctly loaded and (c) cinched in the application pliers. ALWAYS align the base plate of the tag flat against the pliers. Note the tine bent over and completely through the stirrup. Source: http://www.nationalband.com/nbt.pdf Tagging applicators (or pliers) are used to attach flipper tags. Select the appropriate tag and applicators. Load the tag by pressing the ‘V’ end of the tag into the applicator pliers until it fits snugly into place (Figure 7). When the tag is correctly seated in the applicator pliers, both hands are needed to squeeze the applicator in a firm, smooth motion to ensure that the tag cinches properly (Figure 8). (a) (b)(c) Figure 8 Use a firm, swift motion to apply flipper tags to nesting sea turtles. Photo: Seth Stapleton

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 11 After applying the tag, check the underside of the tag to verify that the tab is closed, the tag is securely attached, and the tag is not pinching the flipper. Hint: to get a better feel fo r how much pressure to apply, it is useful to practice tagging on a sheet of heavy cardboard. The turtle may move slightly during tagging; a swift, strong tagging motion helps to reduce any reaction to the tagging. If you sense that the turtle was disturbed by tagging, take a few steps back, turn off your lights, and wait a few moments before continuing. If a tag must be removed for any reason, use two pairs of needle-nosed pliers to grasp and unclasp the tag, or use wire-cutters to cut th e tag and pull it carefully through the turtle’s flesh. Put any removed tags in your Beach Pa ck, do not discard them on the beach. Record on the data form the number of the tag you removed. Write down why the tag was removed and carefully record the number(s) of any new tag(s) applied. Do not remove existing tags unless they are causing harm (such as infection) to the turtle. Instead, record the tag numbers and, if the tag was not issued to your project, flip the tag over and write down the return address. Contact the WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging Centre (Prof. Julia Horrocks, Coordinator: (246) 417-4320, julia.horrocks@cavehill.uwi.edu ) at the University of the West Indies in Barbad os to report tag numbers applied by scientists in other countries, or submit this informat ion to DomSeTCO, the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, or the Fisheries Division in Roseau. PIT Tagging Applying PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags is considered to be more invasive than applying flipper tags and should be done only under the guidance of workers experienced with the technique. If you are considering this technique, contact the WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging Centre and seek advice from experienced PIT tagging colleagues in the Caribbean region. PIT tagging is not a substitute for flipper tagging, but is best used together with flipper tagging. A PIT tag is injected under the skin, generally into muscle, using a needle applicator provided by the manufacturer (Figure 9). Most PIT tags and applicators are pre-sterilized and packaged for field use. Figure 9 A PIT tag injected into the front right shoulder of an adult Leatherback. Photo: Seth Stapleton

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 12 For further detail on PIT tag purchase, field use, and record-keeping, please refer to Eckert and Beggs (2006) “Marine Turtle Tagging: A Manual of Recommended Practices”. IV. MEASURING SEA TURTLES Measuring the carapace (shell) of a sea turtle provides information on the turtle’s growth from year to year, as well as information about the average size of the sea turtles that nest in Dominica. Sea turtles are measured either in a straight line using tree calipers, or over-thecurve using a flexible measuring tape. Curved Carapace Length notch-to-tip (CCLn-t) is the distance from the nuchal notch (the shell edge directly behind the head) along the midline to the shell’s furthest tip. Curved Carapace Width (CCW) is the maximum shell width (Bolten 1999). See Figure 10. Use a flexible measuring tape to obtain the CCL and CCW measures. For CCLn-t, place the end of the tape at the shell edge (nuchal notch), straighten the tape along the length of the shell, and record the measurement at the most distant portion of the shell (Figure 11a). For CCW, align the ‘0’ of the tape with one edge at the widest portion of the shell, just behind the front flippers (Figure 11b). Stretch the tape over the shell to the opposite edge so that the tape is perpendicular to the CCLn-t measure. Leatherbacks are large (CCL often exceeds 1.5 meters!), and two people may be required to measure size accurately. Figure 11. Researchers measur e (a) Hawksbill CCLn-t in Antigua and (b) Leatherback CCW in Dominica. Photos: (a) M. Watkins-Gilkes, (b) Seth Stapleton Figure 10. CCLn-n (“NN”) ext ends from the nuchal notch in the shell to the notch above the tail. CCLn-t (“NT”) ex tends from the nuchal notch to the furthest shell tip. Use “NT” (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 13 When using a measuring tape, be sure the tape lies flat and in a straight line; remove kinks from the tape and excess sand from the shell. Always record the measurement in centimeters (cm), and make careful note of injuries, deformities, or other distinguishing features such as barnacles or algae (Figure 12). Injuri es provide an index of turtle encounters with predators, fishing gear, and boats, and unusual characteristics can help identify a turtle that has lost its tags. If possible, include a sketch or photograph with the data form. Figure 12. Injuries and distinguishing features, such as (a) barnacles on a Hawksbill’s shell, (b) an amputated rear flipper and (c) lacerations caused by (d) fishing gear are important to note on the data form. Some injuries, such as when the shell is broken or s hortened, can result in inaccurate measurements and should be noted clearly on the data form. Photos: Seth Stapleton (a) (c) (d) (b) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 14 V. CHARACTERIZING HABITAT To better understand how sea turtles use Domini ca’s beaches, and what type of habitat(s) they prefer, always record basic measures t hat characterize the nesting site. Over the years, this information will help managers under stand how patterns of beach use, nest site selection, nest loss to erosion, etc. can change over time. Divide the beach length into sectors of approx imately equal size. Structure the sectors to best characterize your beach, providing a suitabl e (but not excessive!) amount of detail. For example, a 300 meter long beach may be divided in to 10 segments of 30 meters in length or 6 segments of 50 meters in length. It woul d not make sense to divide a 300 meter beach into 150 2-meter segments (too much detail) or 2 150-meter segments (not enough detail)! Natural landmarks such as streams or rock ou tcroppings can provide ideal beach divisions. In addition, ‘permanent’ features such as larg e tress or rocks, a road entrance, or a built structure near the beach can mark beach sectors as described above. When existing landmarks are unavailable, place signs, posts or ro cks (at the vegetation line), as necessary, to mark beach sectors. To ensure that the boundarie s are visible by flashlight (torch) at night, number your markers with reflective ta pe or white (or reflective) paint. Make a map of your beach sectors and their labeled markers, including photocopies, and store these in a safe place. This is an impo rtant document and will be needed every year. A Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellit e technology to calculate an exact position. Different GPS units record data differently, so be careful that you understand the details. Record the latitude and longitude on the data form. In addition to location, document the following on the data form (see Record-Keeping and Appendix IV): Distance to the high water line ( HWL ) – defined as the distance from the nest to the furthest reach of tidal waters, often marked by a row of debris and seaweeds. Using the large measuring tape, align the ‘0’ with the nest, have a partner hold the tape in place, and walk toward the sea with the other end of the measuring tape in-hand until you reach the high water mark. Record your meas urement to the nearest tenth of a meter. Distance to the vegetation edge ( VE ) – defined as the distance from the nest to the edge of the closest line of permanent vegetation. Again, align the ‘0’ with the nest, have a partner hold the tape in place, and walk to the nearest vegetation edge with the other end of the tape in-hand. Record your measur ement to the nearest tenth of a meter. If the nest is located in vegetation, measur e VE in the same manner and record on the data form that the nest was located in the vegetation.

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 15 VI. MOVING SEA TURTLE EGGS In Dominica, nesting sea turtles and e ggs are protected by law (Appendix V). Handling sea turtle eggs without a permit from the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division is an illegal act. Leatherbacks, in particular, prefer “high ener gy” beaches and there is a natural amount of egg loss to erosion each year. Managers can count er this loss by moving eggs laid in high risk areas, to areas of lower risk. For example, eggs can be moved to an area higher on the same beach (closer to the vegetation) or to a nearby beach where erosion is less likely. Of course eggs must always be moved proper ly and in accordance with international best practices: eggs should be moved within 12 hour s of egg-laying, they should be moved gently and carefully (to minimize breakage or damage), and they should be moved to a beach that has suitable incubation characteri stics (e.g. similar sand comp osition), preferably one where sea turtles from the same colony are known to nest. Before we discuss the specifics of nest relocati on, it is useful to have a little background on nest site fidelity – meaning a turtle’s tendency to return repeatedly to a particular beach. Popular belief holds that an adult female will return to nest precisely on the beach from which she hatched. While sea turtles show a stro ng attraction to the general area of their birth (for example, the East coast of Dominica ), Leatherbacks show a bit less site fidelity than do other sea turtle species (for a rece nt summary, see Brutigam and Eckert 2006). Leatherbacks are more likely to consider a small island’s entire coastline (which may include several sandy beaches) as a single nesting ground. Vegetation Nest Sea HWL VE High Water Mark Figure 13 HWL is measured from the nest to the highest point that the water has reached, and VE is measured from the nest to the edge of the closest vegetation.

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 16 Data collected in Dominica demonstrate this behaviour: more than half the Leatherbacks reported on Dominica’s nesting beaches in 2007 were recorded on multiple beaches over the course of the nesting season. Some even traveled between Dominica and other Caribbean islands, depositing clutches of eggs in mo re than one country (Stapleton and Eckert 2007). Over time this has been a successful strategy for this species – with the Leatherback’s habit of nesting on coastlines with strong wave acti on, an entire season’s young might be lost to erosion if all the eggs were laid in one place. To reduce the risk of egg loss to erosion (or poaching), “nest relocation” – the act of removing the eggs from their natural nest and creating a new, exact copy of the nest somewhere else – is a widely used management option. The following nest relocation procedures are modified from Boulon (1999) and Mortimer (1999). For more detail, please review the original sources (find these online at www.widecast.org ). Cautionary note: It is always best to allow eggs to remain in their original setting if erosion, over-wash, or poaching do not present a significant risk. Relocate eggs only as a last resort, and remember that Government permits are required. Eggs contain fragile embryos that will not survive rough handling. If the nest must be moved, use extreme care during the collection, transfer, and reburial of eggs. Collect the eggs as they are laid, placing them gently into a clean bag or bucket set next to you in the sand. Some people prefer to fit a plastic bag into the nest, such that the eggs are laid directly into it. In that case, care must be taken to dig the bag out, generally from the back of the ne st. The natural “light-bulb” (flask) shape of the nest means that you cannot pull the bag stra ight up and out without breaking the eggs. If a nest has already been covered, locate and excavate the eggs with care (see Nest Emergence and Excavation). NEST RELOCATION CHECKLIST Relocate eggs ONLY IF absolutely necessary, and then as soon as possible! CAREFULLY collect eggs in a clean bag or container Locate a SAFE, nearby reburial site GENTLY transfer eggs to the reburial site Be the turtle! Dig a new nest BY HAND, and confirm that the new nes t is the right depth CAREFULLY (by hand!) place the yolked eggs in the nest; smaller, yolkless eggs go on top BACKFILL the nest with damp sand, gently tamping the sand as you continue Place NEST MARKER in the nest, map the nest’s location, and record it on the data form

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 17 To reduce the risk of bacterial transmission du ring next excavation, wear latex gloves. If the eggs are in a bucket, prevent moisture lo ss by covering them with a damp (not wet) cloth. Measure and record the depth and widt h of the original nest chamber so that you will have a guide for the dimensions of the new nest chamber (Figure 14). Figure 14. (a) A Leatherback lays her eggs and (b) a RoSTI staff member reburies a nest at Londonderry Beach, Dominica. Photos: Seth Stapleton Figure 15. Images from elsewhere: (a) eggs collected for re location in Nevis, West Indies and (b) nests carefully reburied at 1-meter intervals at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Photos: (a) Alicia Marin, (b) Jamie Pena. Once the eggs have been collected, they must be reburied as quickly as possible, preferably within one hour. Identify a suitable reburia l site nearby, ideally on the same beach. Minimize the distance traveled and, if possible, eliminate the need for vehicle transport. Do not travel excessive distances to relocate ne sts; for example, you would not transport a nest from Portsmouth to Rosalie. If a vehicle is required, take care that the eggs are held securely in place and do not chill the eggs through exposure to air-conditioning. (a) (b) (b) (a)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 18 Nests should not be reburied too close together – a good rule is that nests be reburied no closer than 1 meter (3 feet) apart on all side s (Figure 15b). After selecting a suitable site, use your hands to dig a new nest chamber. Ma tch the dimensions of the new nest to those of the original nest. As a guide, Leather back nests are typically about 70 cm deep, Green turtles about 60 cm deep, and Hawksbills about 50 cm deep. Carefully place eggs into the new egg chamber by hand (see Insert: “Nest Relocation Check List”). Do not dump or drop the eggs from the collection bucket or bag into the new nest. Leatherbacks (and occasionally other species) lay two types of eggs: yolked eggs that may develop into hatchlings, and small, irregular yolkless eggs that will never develop into hatchlings. Count the eggs as you set them in the nest, making certain to separate the yolked and yolkless eggs. When you rebury the eggs, place the yolkless eggs last (on top). Cover the eggs, replacing into th e nest several centimeters of the naturally damp sand that you removed when you dug the egg chamber. Continue backfilling until the nest surface is even with the surrounding beach surface. Fina lly, label a segment of plastic flagging tape with the turtle’s tag numbers and nest date, and insert it just beneath the surface of the sand. This marker will provide important info rmation later when the nest is dug after the hatchlings are gone. If you are concerned that poaching remains a threat, rebury eggs at night and scatter dry sand across the site to minimize evidence of digging. Record on the Sea Turtle Sighting Form (Appendix IV) whether – and where – the nest was relocated. Watch the site closely 55 75 days later for evidence of hatching (Figure 16). If the nest is lost (such as to poachers, predators, or erosion), make a note on the original data form. If there is no practical area for reburial, then you may need to consider identifying an area for a hatchery. A hatchery must be in an area protected from erosion, at least one vertical meter above the highest tide levels, and must be large enough to allow nest spacing of 1 m between nests. Figure 16. Baby sea turtles leave sma ll tracks that are miniature versions of their mothers’ tracks. Photo: Carol Stapleton ___________________________________________________

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 19 Cautionary note: Enclosed hatcheries (cf. Figure 15b) require a major investment of manpower and money, they artificially concentrate nests (in some cases increasing the risk of erosion or poaching), and they generally re duce hatch success (although the trade-off is acceptable if the nest would likely be completely lost in its original location). Consistent monitoring and fencing is generally needed to protect nests from predators and poachers. Watch for hatchlings, release them immediately. To maintain a healthy incubation environment (e.g. reduce concentrati ons of metabolic gases and/or bacteria), discard the waste collected from excavated nests (e.g. hatched shells rotten eggs) in the surf. Discarding this material nearby will attract predators to your hatchery. The hatchery site should be moved to a new location every 1-2 years. See Mortimer (1999) for details. VII. NEST EMERGENCE AND EXCAVATION While beach patrols and tagging help us understand the numbers and types of sea turtles nesting in Dominica, conservation programm es also need to estimate hatch success – defined as the number (proportion) of eggs th at hatch and/or the number of hatchlings that make it safely to the sea. Identifying caus es of nest failure can help you determine if management practices, such as nest relocation are necessary. To estimate hatch success and assess possible causes of nest failure, nest s are excavated – meaning that they are dug and their contents catego rized (see Appendix IV: Nest Excavation Data Form). It can be a messy job, but it provides essent ial data about reproductive success. Hatchlings typically emerge and crawl to the sea after 55 – 75 days. During this ‘hatch window’, watch nests closely. Vi sit, at least daily, nests that are due to hatch. Usually hatchlings crawl from the nest to the sea in a few minutes (Figure 17). Figure 17 A Leatherback nest hatches in the early evening, l eaving dozens of tiny tracks as evidence of the hatchlings’ race to the sea. Photos: (a-b) Jenny Freestone (Antigua), (c) Didiher Chacn (Costa Rica) ____________________________________________________________________________________ (a) (b) (c)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 20 To an untrained eye, hatchling tracks may appear similar to crab or other small animal tracks. A little practice will help you correctl y identify sea turtle tracks – look for a large number of tracks with a central point of origin A hatched nest will create a slight depression, as the sand collapses into the space vacated by the hatchlings (Figure 17a). Both the nest depression and the hatchlings’ tracks are eas ily erased by tides, rain, and beach traffic. Usually the majority of a nest’s hatchlings emerge together. However, they may also emerge and crawl to the sea in small groups. If you witness a hatch, keep your distance and do not interfere with their race for the sea. Gently free any hatchling that becomes trapped by beach debris or tyre tracks, or becomes disoriented by shoreline lighting. Nest excavations are easiest to complete within 1-2 days after hatchling emergence. Nest contents decompose quickly, becoming more difficult to excavate and catalog. If 75 days pass with no signs of emergence, consider excavating the nest to assess reason(s) for nest failure. Wear latex or rubber gloves to reduce exposure to bacteria. Using your hands, gently scoop sand from the nest, carefully unearthing the eggs and separating the hatched egg shells from unhatched eggs and any live hatchlings (Figure 18a). Be as delicate as possible while removing the contents. Eggshells are fragile, and they are much easier to categorize when intact, and don’t forget that there may be hatchlings remaining in the nest! Continue to scoop and sort nest contents unt il you reach the bottom of the egg chamber. If you have trouble pinpointing the exact location of a nest, find a thin, stiff stick to use as a probe. At the possible nest site, gently press the stick into the sand, paying close attention to the resistance you feel. You will feel less resistance as you probe the nest site – the sand in the egg chamber is less dense than the surrounding sand. SORTING NEST CONTENTS BY CATEGORY Hatched egg shells Hatchlings: Live, dead, or deformed Unhatched eggs: o Rotten – contents show signs of decay e.g. rainbow colors and/or ‘chunkiness’ o Embryo – unhatched baby turtle or any sign of embryo development Early – Tiny, pink embryos; may be the size of a pencil point Late – Larger embryos (>1 cm) o Undeveloped – No sign of embryo development and no signs of rotting o Deformed – An improperly formed embryo; e.g. twins, missing flippers, double head o Pipped – Partially hatched turtle

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 21 Once the nest contents have been removed, iden tify and categorize the contents and record them on the Nest Excavation Data Form (Appendix IV). Place any live, active hatchlings on the sand to crawl to the sea. Very weak hatc hlings can be placed in a dark container for release later in the evening. Count whole (u nhatched) eggs, as well as hatched eggshells that appear to consist of more than half of an entire shell. Carefully open each unhatched egg by pinching the shell and tearing it open. Be careful – egg contents are under pressure and can squirt upon opening. Examine the cont ents of unhatched eggs for signs of embryo development and categorize appropriately (see Insert, previous page). Look carefully along the inside of the shell for small embryos and bl ood vessels that indicate early development; these signs are easily missed. Each turtle is co unted only once on the data form; e.g. a dead mid-term embryo missing a front flipper is cata loged in the ‘deformity’ category or the ‘lateterm embryo’ category (more co rrectly the former), but not both Live ‘pipped’ (partially hatched) turtles near ly completed hatched can be helped from the shell and held to allow the shell to straight en, or reburied in a bucket with damp, loose, shallow sand and given an opportunity to emer ge on their own. Place pipped eggs and hatchlings in a container stored in a dark, c ool, quiet location until they are ready for release. All hatchlings should be released du ring darkness. Remember to keep flashlights off; lights confuse sea turtles. Gently shake the container and move the hatchlings in your hands to awaken inactive, sleepy turtles. Be su re to allow the turtles to crawl for a few meters along the sand into the surf. Ne ver place hatchlings directly into the sea. If the excavated nest was located in a hatcher y, collect the egg contents and toss them in the surf or bury them in an area regularly washed out to sea, or an area away from the beach so they do not attract predators. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards! Figure 18. (a) Contents of a Hawksbill nest are separat ed into piles of hatched shells and unhatched eggs; (b) recently emerged Green turtle hatchlings ar e ready to crawl to the sea. Photos: Seth Stapleton (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 22 VIII. RECORD-KEEPING Accurate record-keeping is an important part of conservation. An occasional data collection error is unavoidable; even an experienced biol ogist may forget to document the time or measure a turtle! However, it’s important to try to limit errors – data is most useful when it is complete and accurate High quality data helps Government and communities alike make the best management decisions. And af ter spending long, challenging hours on the beach, you want to make sure that your data forms are as useful as possible! A data form must be completed for each nesting activity and each turtle encountered. For example, if you witness 3 false crawls and 2 successful nests during a beach patrol, five (5) data forms must be completed. Complete the data forms immediately (as shown in Figure 19); do not try to remember details and expect that you will be able to accurately record this information later. The Sea Turtle Sighting Form (Appendix IV) is designed to document nesting, but in-water observations can also be recorded on this form. The first line of the data form is used to record the date and time. Record the date in DAYMONTH-YEAR format, and remember that the date changes at midnight! ‘AM’ refers to times in the morning (after midnight and befo re noon); ‘PM’ refers to the afternoon and evening (after noon and before midnight). Record the TIME when you first encounter the animal. Write down the NAMES of each beach patroller present (Observers) and record the NUMBER of Guests. Note the beach NAME and LOCATION and, if applicable, the beach SECTOR where the crawl took place. Record the SPECIES (or ‘Unknown’), GENDER (egg-laying turtles are always female), and how you determined the species: did you see an adult turtle, a juvenile, a hatchling, or just a nesting crawl? If you saw a turtle, what was its CONDITION : alive or dead? Carefully record crawl width, circle the correct crawl pattern, and take the turtle’s measurements. (Note whether a damaged carapace has a ffected the measurement.) Record the ACTIVITY you first noticed when you saw the turtle: search ing for a nest site, body-pitting, digging the nest, laying eggs, covering the nest, retu rning to the sea, or stranded (dead). Figure 19 Record all data immediately, while you are still with the turtle. Photo: Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project.

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 23 The most important part of data collection is the turtle’s identity. Carefully read and RECORD TAG NUMBERS ; if you apply a new tag, remember to write the tag number(s) down before you apply the tag. Check the appropriat e box to show whether the flipper tag was Old (already present) or New (just applied), located on the Front or Rear flipper and on the Right or Left side (her right or left, not yours). Note the location of any possible tag scars, and record the tag numbers of any tags that were Destroyed or Lost during tagging. If the turtle crawled ashore, be sure to check the result: CONFIRMED NEST SUSPECTED NEST or FALSE CRAWL A nest is only ‘Confirmed’ if you see eggs! For Leatherbacks, record both yolked and yolkless EGG COUNTS (note: for other species, all eggs are assumed to be yolked). Record whether eggs were collected and REBURED ; if so, write the time (collected, reburied) and the reburial site. In the NOTES section, describe injuries, barnacles, measurements to nearby landmarks (to help you relocate the nest at hatching), evidence of predators, poaching, etc. The PAGE NUMBER is not filled out in the field; all data forms are numbered sequentially in a notebook by the database manager. Use the Nest Excavation Data Form (Appendix IV) when you exhume the contents of a hatched nest. Record Dates, Times, Observers, Beach Location, Species, and Guests as described above. Write the adult turtle’s tag numbers and note what Evidence (if any) was present to indicate that the nest hatched. Record how many live and dead hatchlings you see on the beach, as well as the Date, Time, and Number of Turtles Released under the Hatchlings Released heading. You’ll also see that this data form contains blanks corresponding to all egg categories discussed in the Excavating Nests section. Read and review your data form one last time to make sure you have been as thorough as possible. Designate a secure area where you can store all of your project’s data forms. The data manager should collect your completed data forms on a regular basis; data should be computerized and annual reports submitted to the permitting agency. WIDECAST can provide database management software and trai ning. For information about data entry and database use, refer to the WIDECAST Regional Marine Turtle Database: User’s Manual (Eckert and Sammy 2005). IX. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH Population monitoring and related research is essential to better management of the depleted sea turtle resource, but ef fective conservation and reco very programmes need to do more than patrol beaches and count sea turtle eggs. Teaching your community and the whole of Dominica about sea turtle conservation issues (and marine conservation issues in general) is another incredibly important task!

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 24 Dominica is a diverse country. Your educatio n and outreach programmes need to appeal to many different people: rural East coast farmers and Roseau businessmen, elders and students, fishers and taxi drivers. Expect lots of different questions, some simple, some complex, some controversial. Regardless of the a ctivity and the audience, always be prepared to answer questions! In the se ctions below, we’ll discuss some effective ways to communicate you conservation message. Turtle Watches There’s nothing quite like seeing an enormous turtle lumber out of the sea, scoop sand with agile hand-like flippers, and lay dozens of eggs in hopes of contributing to the next generation of sea turtles. ‘Turtle Watching’ is a memorable hands-on way to teach people about sea turtles … but it’s also a very vulnerable ti me for the turtle. Egg-laden females can be disturbed and disoriented by artificial light s (including torches/flashlights and camera flashes), noise, and unexpected movement. Nesting is the only reason that Caribbean sea turtles return to land after hatching, and excessive disturbance can cause a female to abandon this important activity. To ensure a safe environment for the turtle, your visitors, and yourself, emphasize and enforce internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. Appendix III). Guided ‘Turtle Watches’ can also generate employment for your community; contact the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organiza tion (DomSeTCO) for more information. TURTLE WATCHING: Do’s and Don’ts Give the turtle PLENTY OF SPACE – at least 30 feet (10 m) – before she be g ins la y in g her eggs and after she has completed laying her eggs. Only approach a turtle when she is laying her eggs. LIGHTS may only be used while the turtle is la y in g her e gg s. The li g ht should be dim, and should never be directed to the face of the turtle. Flash PHOTOGRAPHY ma y disorient or temporaril y blind a turtle. Onl y take photo g raphs while the turtle is depositing her eggs, and then only from behind. Limit visitor NOISE and movement. Pay attention to your Guide. View the nesting turtle in SMALL GROUPS and li mit viewing time to make sure that all have a chance to see the nesting process. Turtles may only be TOUCHED very gent ly while they are laying eggs, but onl y as permitted by project staff or your tour guide. Never RIDE turtles. Take your RUBBISH with you as you leave the beach. Adult turtles and hatchlin g s ma y become trapped or entangled in any rubbish found on the beach. Remind visitors that nesting sea turtles and eggs are PROTECTED in Dominica!

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 25 Figure 20. (a) ‘Turtle Watches’, (b) beach clean-ups, (c ) hands-on sharing, and (d) classroom presentations are just some of the ways to spread the messa ge of sea turtle conservation. Photos: S. Stapleton School Programmes Speaking to school groups, either in the classr oom or on the beach (Figure 20), can be a very effective and enjoyable outreach technique. Kids are enthusiastic and excited to share their sea turtle experiences, and they will often br ing the conservation messages home to their parents and others in the community. Always take the age of your audience into cons ideration! Ideas need to be presented differently to 6-year olds than to 13-year olds. Incorporating simple games and art activities, especially with younger children, is a great way to get them involved in the lesson and thinking about the marine environment. An in teractive slide show, puppet show, or photos (a) (b) (c) (d)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 26 that you can pass around the class can reinfo rce your message. Contests and quizzes are fun for all ages and they can be useful in en couraging participation in group discussions. WIDECAST has provided DomSeTCO with a vari ety of educational tools, including classroom lessons (Harold and Eckert 2005), summer camp programmes, children’s books, a sea turtle slideshow, and various technical materials. These are suitable for all ages and can be useful in planning activities and creating te mplates for creative outreach. Ask a local library, Government office, or DomSeTCO if you can borrow a slide projector, as needed. Media The media reaches thousands of people island-w ide, everyday. Radio, television, newspapers, magazines … they all help to publicize marine conservation issues and shape public opinion. With the growing popularity of sea turtles in Dominica, the media continues to be an important conservation partner. Prepare pr ess releases. Invite the media to special events. Agree to be interviewed for a radio programmes. Keep sea turtles in the news! General Comments Many people don’t have the opportunity to pe rsonally view a nesting or hatching turtle … yet we still want them to feel a sea turtle she ll, see how the backbone and ribs fit together, and marvel at how small the eggs and hatchlings are! For this purpose, the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division keeps a small sea turtle natural history collection in Roseau. Inquire with Forestry to learn if you ma y borrow these materials for your education programmes. Cautionary note: Do not collect sea turtle shells, eggs, or other parts for personal use or display. Remember, sea turtl es and their eggs are protected by law. We’ve touched on just a few of the many ways to communication a conservation message to the general public. Other ideas that have been successfully used in the past include ‘Hatchling Day’, summer camp, internship programm es, publicly-displayed murals, beach cleanups, and appearances at events such as Di veFest and Scott’s Head / Soufriere Marine Reserve Day. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to try something new! Dominica is your island, and you know best how to teach your fellow citizens. Be creative and have fun – your enthusiasm will spread! X. SOLVING COMMON PROBLEMS Disoriented Turtles Sea turtles can be confused and misdirected by artificial lights. For detailed recommendations; advice for architects, planners and hotels; contact information for lighting manufacturers; and model lighting ordinances, see Witherington and Martin (2000).

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 27 Hatchlings, and to a lesser extent nesting female s, are strongly affected by artificial lights and may wander inland toward hotel and road lig hting, sports fields, and security lights of one kind or another. Even beach fires can be deadly, especially to hatchlings (Figure 21). Solving this issue requires dialogue with those responsible for the lights. An absence of lighting is the best guarantee that sea turt les will safely find the ocean, but where this is not an option several “next best” solutions have long been available. For example, Witherington (1990) proposed: (1) sh ielding and lowering light sources (low intensity lighting at low elevations can be both attractive and adequate for most purposes; the glow can be shielded from the beach by ornam ental flowering hedges or other barriers), (2) alternative light sources (e.g., low pressure sodium (LPS) lighting is known to be less attractive to hatchlings than full-spectrum white light), (3) time restrictions (turn lights off during evening hours when hatching is most likely to occur; e.g., 7 PM to 11 PM), (4) motion sensitive lighting (sensor-activated lighting come s on only when a moving object, such as a person, approaches the light; this might be effe ctive in low traffic areas), and/or (5) area restrictions (restrict beach lighting to areas of th e beach where little or no nesting occurs; the effectiveness of this is diminished, however, si nce sources of light several kilometers away can disrupt hatchling orientation). Lighting associated with people on the nestin g beach can also pose a problem. Strict lighting guidelines should be enforced (see “Turtle Watching: Do’s and Don’ts”): flashlights/ torches/ headlamps should be dim and aimed downward, camera flashing should be confined to the late egg-laying phase, and no light should be shined in the turtle’s face. Figure 21 Artificial lights, including (a) beachfront de velopments and (b) bonfires, disorient and confuse adult sea turtles and hatchlings, often misdirecting them away from the sea and to their deaths. Photos: (a) Ticiana Fettermann, (b) Alicia Marin (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 28 If a turtle is disoriented by fixed lighting (e.g. a house or street light), try using your body to block her from crawling in the wrong direction and redirect her to the sea. Don’t worry, she isn’t going to knock you down and crawl over you! She will try to avoid you, so carefully placing yourself is a very helpful means to redi rect her movements. It can be painful to be struck by a sea turtle flipper, so standing a mete r or two in front of her shoulder is wise. With stubborn turtles you may need to use a flas hlight/torch to light a return path to the sea. Do not shine a light from the sea back to the turtle. Instead, stand behind the turtle and shine a light to the sea from behind the turtle at a low angle. In the case of confused hatchlings, be sure that all flashlights are turned off and that other artificial light sources are blocked (again, use your body!). In the absence of artificial lights, hatchlings typically correct their path to the se a and do not require further assistance. If they are unable to redirect themselves, gently co llect them, carry them (a short distance) to the nearest place on the beach that is unaffected by lights, and turn them towards the sea. Hatchlings must be allowed to orient and crawl to the sea, do not place them directly in the waves. Scientists believe that those first steps to the sea may help set the ‘compasses’ that will guide the hatchlings offshore and, ultimately, bring them home again as adults. Poaching and Predators Finding a slaughtered turtle carcass or a destro yed nest (Figure 22) is a frustrating and disheartening experience. Despite your effort s, poachers and animal predators may continue to present a serious threat to adult females and their nests. Figure 22. (a) A carapace and a few egg s are all that remain of a Leat herback killed illegally in Dominica in 2007. (b) A RoSTI staff member investigates t he remains of a sea turtle nest partially destroyed by dogs. Photos: Seth Stapleton (a) (b)

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 29 Although the results of poaching and predation can be discouraging, do not lose hope! Be diligent with your beach patrol schedule. Your presence on the beach will help to safeguard the turtles from poachers and predators. Tr y not to leave turtles unattended. Disguise nesting activities by walking across crawls, dra gging palm fronds over the area, scattering dry sand over the nest sites or, if necessary, relocating eggs (see Moving Sea Turtle Eggs). Be careful: keep in mind that, while sea turtle co nservation is very important and rewarding work, no turtle is worth putting yourself in harm’s way. Report illegal activity. Seek the assistance of the Police, the Forestry, W ildlife and Parks Division, and other authorities. Alerting the media to illegal activity ca n also help focus attention on the problems that poaching – whether of sea turtles or othe r endangered species – pose to the nation and the future generations of its citizens. While animal predators are clearly part of the nat ural cycle of life, some predators, such as dogs, have been introduced to the environmen t and can be incredibly destructive to sea turtles and other endangered wild creatures. Di alogue with dog owners is the first step to reducing the presence of dogs on nesting beache s. Fenced hatcheries are one solution to the loss of eggs to unsupervised dogs; the ‘caging’ of individual nests can also be effective. This type of management decision must be made in consultation with experts and authorities. Sick and Injured Sea Turtles Sea turtles are susceptible to variety of inju ries, ranging from amputations from encounters with boat propellers or sharks to entanglement in fishing gear and embedded fishing hooks. Refer to WIDECAST’s Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Field Guide (Phelan and Eckert 2006) to learn how to respond to si ck and injured sea turtles that you encounter on the beach or in the water. This Field Guide, as well as other useful references, are available from the Dominica Sea Turtle Co nservation Organization (DomSeTCO). Cautionary note: Do not attempt to treat a sea turtle wi thout expert assistance, and never bring a sick or injured sea turtle or hatchling home. Equipment Maintenance Sand, salt, wind and water are tough on fiel d equipment, and some wear and tear is unavoidable. Routine maintenance and precautionary measures can help to extend equipment life. Regularly lubricate the hinges and spri ngs of tagging pliers with WD-40 or similar spray lubricant to keep them working properly. Keep electronic equipment in sealed plastic bags on the beach. Regularly inspect and wipe away salt and sand from gear, as necessary. Questions? Questions about research and conservation pr otocols, sea turtle regulations and law enforcement, and problems encountered can be directed to local authorities (see Contact List).

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 30 XI. LITERATURE CITED Bolten, A.B. 1999. Techniques for Measuring Sea Turtles, p.110-114. In K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research and Management Techniques for the Conserva tion of Marine Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4. Boulon, R.H. 1999. Reducing Threats to Eggs and Hatchlings: In Situ Protection, p.169-174. In K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Ab reu-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles. IUCN/ SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4. Washington D.C. Brutigam, A. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. Turning the Tide: Exploitation, Trade and Management of Marine Turtles in the Lesser Ant illes, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK. 533 pp. Byrne, R. 2006. 2006 Annual Project Report: Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI). Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 25 pp. Byrne, R. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. 2004 2005 Biennium Project Report: Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI). Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, W. Indies. 51 pp. Dow, Wendy, Karen Ecke rt, Michael Palmer and Philip Kramer. 2007. An Atlas of Sea Turtle Nesting Habitat for the Wider Caribbean Region. The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network and The Nature Conservancy. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 6. Beaufort, North Carolina. 267 pa ges, plus electronic Appendices Eckert, K.L. and J. Beggs. 2006. Marine Turtle Tagging: A Manual of Recommended Practices. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 2. Revi sed Edition. Beaufort, North Carolina. 40 pp. Eckert, S.A. and D. Sammy. 2005. WIDECAST Regional Marine Turtle Database: User’s Manual Version 3.0. Beaufort, North Carolina. 60 pp. Franklin, A., R. Byrne and K.L. Eckert. 2004. 2003 Annual Report: Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (RoSTI). Prepared by WIDECAST for the Minis try of Agriculture and the Environment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Divisi on). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 57 pp. Harold, S. and K. L. Eckert. 2005. Endangered Caribbean Sea Turtles: An Educator’s Handbook. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conserva tion Network (WIDECAST) Technical Report No. 3. Beaufort, North Carolina. 176 pp.

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 31 IUCN. 2007. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. URL: www.redlist.org. Accessed 2007. Mortimer, J.A. 1999. Reducing Threats to Eggs and Hatchlings: Hatcheries, p.175-178. In K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abre u-Grobois and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4. Phelan, S.M. and K.L. Eckert. 2006. Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Field Guide. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Technical Report No. 4. Beaufort, North Carolina. 71 pp. Stapleton, S.P. and K.L. Eckert. 2007. Nesting Ecology and Conservation Biology of Marine Turtles in the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies: RoSTI 2007 Annual Project Report. Prepared by WIDECAST for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment (Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division). Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. 45 pp. Witherington, B.E. and R.E. Martin. 2000. Understanding, Assessing and Resolving Light Pollution Problems on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches. Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Report TR-2. 73 pp. Witherington, B. 1990. Photopollution on sea turtle nesting beaches: problems and nextbest solutions, p.43-45. In T.H. Richardson, J.I. Richardson and M. Donnelly (Compilers), Proceedings of the 10th Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEF C-278. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Figure 23 Local youth enjoy participating in a sand sculpture competition after a beach clean-up in La Plaine, Dominica. Photo: Seth Stapleton

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 32 XII. GLOSSARY Body-pitting – During the nesting process, egg-bearin g sea turtles clear away dry, surface sand using sweeping flipper motions Carapace – The topside (back) of a sea turtle’s shell Confirmed Nest – A nesting activity in which egg-laying is visually confirmed Curved Carapace Length (CCL) A measurement following the midline of the carapace, extending from the nuchal (see Nuchal ) notch to the furthest posterior tip of the shell Curved Carapace Width (CCW) A size measurement taken at the widest part of the carapace (typically just behind the front flippers) and perpendicular to the midline Egg Chamber – The hole into which the turtle lays her eggs Embryo – A still-developing turtle fully enclosed in the egg False Crawl – A nesting attempt that does not result in egg-laying Flipper Tag – A uniquely numbered metal or plastic tag a ttached to the front or rear flipper used to identify individual turtles Global Positioning System (GPS) – A device using satellite technology to calculate an exact position High Water Line (HWL) – The distance from the nest to the highest point reached by the sea Keratin – Rough protein substances forming variou s biological tissues including hair, protein, and scutes (see Scutes ) Neophyte – a sea turtle that is nesting for the first time Nest (see Confirmed Nest ) Nesting Trance – The period of the nesting process (e gg-laying) when a sea turtle may be approached for data collection Nuchal or Nuchal Notch – The edge of the carapace dire ctly behind the turtle’s head Pipped Egg – A partially hatched egg; an egg in which the turtle has partially emerged PIT Tag – Passive Integrated Transponder; a uni quely coded microchip, injected just beneath the skin, used to mark individual animals Plastron – The bottomside (belly) of a sea turtle’s shell Remigrant – A sea turtle that is not nesting for the first time, but has nested in Dominica in previous years (this is confirmed by the presence of flipper tags) Scute – The thin, colorful plates covering th e carapace of a hard-shelled sea turtle Suspected Nest – A nesting activity that likely resulted in a nest, but eggs could not be visually confirmed (confirmation may come la ter, such as when eggs are seen to have washed away, or hatchlings emerge) Vegetation Edge (VE) – The distance from the nest to the closest vegetation edge

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 33 XIII. CONTACT LIST Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO) Mr. Errol Harris Chairman P.O. Box 939, Roseau Commonwealth of Dominica Tel: (767) 448-4091 Cell: (767) 275-0724, (767) 613-6630 domsetco@gmail.com errolmar@cwdom.dm Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment Botanical Gardens, Roseau Commonwealth of Dominica Tel: (767) 266-3817 forestry@cwdom.dm Fisheries Division Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Blvd Roseau Fisheries Complex Roseau Commonwealth of Dominica Tel: (767) 448-2401 fisheriesdivision@cwdom.dm Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force Police Headquarters Bath Road, Roseau Commonwealth of Dominica Tel: (767) 448-2222 dompol@cwdom.dm WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging Centre Prof. Julia Horrocks Coordinator University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus (P.O. Box 64) Bridgetown, Barbados Tel: (246) 417-4320 Fax: (246) 417-4325 julia.horrocks@cavehill.uwi.edu WIDECAST: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network Dr. Karen Eckert Executive Director 1348 Rusticview Drive Ballwin, Missouri 63011 USA Tel: (314) 954-8571 keckert@widecast.org Visit www.widecast.org

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 34 Figure 24. As the last sea turtle of the night returns safely to the ocean, a satisfied beach patroller enjoys a colourful sunrise. Photos: Seth Stapleton

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 35 APPENDIX I: IDENTIFYING DOMINICA’S SEA TURTLES Caretta caretta : Loggerhead (Eng), Caguama (Sp), Caouanne (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Relatively large head (up to 10 inches [25 cm] in width) Length-adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 3-4 feet (ca. 1-1.2 m) Length-hatchling : Carapace length of 1.71.8 in (ca. 44-48 mm) Weight-adult : to 400 lb (ca. 100-180 kg) Color-adult : Carapace is red-brown; plastron (belly) is light yellow to light brown Color-hatchling : Uniform in color, red-brown to grey-black Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : May-July Number of nests : On average, 3-4 per year at 13-15-day intervals Average clutch size : 100-120 eggs per nest Incubation time : ca. 50-75 days Global Status Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 36 -Chelonia mydas : Green Turtle (Eng), Tortuga verde (Sp), Tortue verte (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Color of body fat (tinted from a diet of seagrass) Length-adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 3-4 feet (ca. 1-1.2 m) Length-hatchling : Carapace length of 1.9 in (ca. 49 mm) Weight-adult : to 400 lb (ca. 120-180 kg) Color-adult : Carapace usually mottled gray, green, brown and black; plastron (belly) is pale yellow Color-hatchling : black carapace, white plastron Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : May-September Number of nests : On average, 3-5 per year at 12-14 day intervals Average clutch size : 110-140 eggs per nest Incubation time : 50-70 days Global Status Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 37 -Dermochelys coriacea : Leatherback (Eng), Tortuga Lad (Sp), Tortue luth (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Lack of a bony carapace (upper shell); leathery skin Length-adult (female) : Carapace length of 4.5-6 feet (ca. 1.4-1.8 m), with 7 ridges Length-hatchling : Carapace length of 2.42.6 in (ca. 60-65 mm) Weight-adult (female) : 550-1400 lb (ca. 250-650 kg) [males to 2000 lb (920 kg)] Color-adult : Carapace and plastron (belly) both gray/black with white or pale spots Color-hatchling : Carapace is black with white spots, plastron is mottled black and white Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : March-July Number of nests : On average, 6-9 times per year at 9-11 day intervals Average clutch size : 80-90 [yolked] eggs per nest Incubation time : 50-75 days Global Status Critically Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 38 -Eretmochelys imbricata : Hawksbill (Eng), Tortuga Care y (Sp), Tortue imbrique (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Hawk-like beak Length-adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 2-3 feet (ca. 60-90 cm) Length-hatchling : Carapace length of 1.61.8 in (ca. 40-45 mm) Weight-adult : 132-176 lb (ca. 60-80 kg) Color-adult : Carapace is brown, black, and amber; Plastron (belly) is yellow Color-hatchling : Uniform in color, grey or brown Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : April-November Number of nests : On average, 4-5 times per year at 14-15 day intervals Average clutch size : ca. 160 eggs per nest Incubation time : 50-75 days Global Status Critically Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 39 -APPENDIX II: SEA TURTLE NESTING IN DOMINICA The Commonwealth of Dominica's sea turtle nesting beach maps are presented for the three species known to nest on the island: Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles. Natural fluctuations are observed in the numbers of sea turtles coming ashore to nest each year. These maps are designed to represent the number of cra wls occurring at a particular beach in an 'average' year, according to the best available information. Information on the level of nesting occurring at the various sites was compiled from several sources, including: consultations with office rs of the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division (particularly Stephen Durand and Charles Wa tty), the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (Errol Harris), and the Fisheries Di vision (Harold Guiste); as well as informal discussions with local community members, original data and Annual Reports from the Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative (Franklin et al. 2004, Byrne 2006, Byrne and Eckert 2006, Stapleton and Eckert 2007), and informatio n summarized by Dow et al. (2007). Beach coordinates were obtained using a handhe ld Global Positioning System unit (Garmin International, Inc., Olathe, KS, USA), supple mented with satellite imagery (Google Earth v. 4.2; www.earth.google.com ) as needed. The Dominica shoreline was obtained from the World Vector Shoreline of the Caribbean Region (U.S. Geological Surv ey and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/pubs/of2005-1071/data/background /carib_bnds/carib_wvs_geo_wgs84meta.htm ). Maps were constructed using ArcGIS 9.2 (Environmental Systems Research Institute, Re dlands, California), and beaches are represented by a single point approximating the beach midpoint. Beach length: Because the vast majority of beaches in Dominica are very small, beaches were more readily displayed as single points than as beach length segments. In all cases, however, data were also collecte d for beach endpoints so that beach length can be calculated from the dataset available. Beach width: Based on regular cycles of erosion and accretion, as well as storm events, beach width changes in predictable and unpredi ctable ways each year. Therefore, estimates of beach width were not included in this mapping exercise. These maps provide baseline data that should be continually reviewed and improved for maximal usefulness to management. Confirmation concerning the distribution and abundance of the annual nesting effort is still needed for beaches “thought to support nesting”, and more confidence is needed in distingu ishing between Hawksbill and Green turtle nesting sites, as it is clear that some observers still confuse the two species.

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 43 -APPENDIX III: TURTLE WATCHING GUIDELINES

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 45 -APPENDIX IV: SEA TURTLE DATA FORMS

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Stapleton and Eckert (2008) ~ Sea Turtle Field Proc edures Manual ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 8 47 -APPENDIX VI: FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE ACT, CHAPTER 60:02 Laws of Dominica Forestry and Wildlife Act Chapter 60:02, Act 12 of 1976 Amended by Act 35 of 1982 Amended by Act 12 of 1990 Chapter 60:02 Section 21 Ninth Schedule Regulations for the taking of sea turtles 1. The word ‘turtle’ shall be deemed not to include the tortoise or land turtle ( Geochelone carbonaria ). 2. No person shall: Catch or take or attempt to catch or take any turtle between the 1st June and the 30th September both dates inclusive, Catch or take or attempt to catch or take any turtle which is under twenty pounds in weight Disturb any turtle nest or eggs or take any turtle eggs, or take or attempt to take any turtle laying eggs or on th e shore engaged in nesting activities.

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“Working together to build a fu ture where all inhabitants of the Wider Caribbean Regi on, human and sea turtle alike, can live together in balance.” The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is a regional coalition of experts and a Partner Organization to the U.N. Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme. WIDECAST was founded in 1981 in response to a recommendation by the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Resources Conservation for Sustainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 26-29 August 1981) that a “Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan should be prepared ... consistent with the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme.” WIDECAST’s vision for achieving a regional re covery action plan has focused on bringing the best available science to bear on sea turtle management and conservation, empowering people to make effective use of that science in the policy-making process, and providing a mechanism and a framework for cooperation within and among nations. By involving stakeholders at all levels and encouraging policy-oriented research, WIDECAST puts science to practical use in conserving biodiversity and advocates for grassroots involvement in decision-making and project leadership. Emphasizing initiatives that strengthen capacity within participating countries and institutions, the network develops and replicates pilot projects, provides technical assistance, enables coordination in the collection, sharing and use of information and data, and promotes strong linkages between science, policy, and public participation in the design and implementation of conservation actions. Working closely with local communities and resource managers, the network has also developed standard management guidelines and criteria that emphasize best practices and sustainability, ensuring that current utilization practices, whether consumptive or nonconsumptive, do not undermine sea turt le survival over the long term. With Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, WIDECAST is uniquely able to facilitate complementary conservation action across range States, strengthening and harmonizing legislation, encouraging community involvement, and raising public awareness of the endangered status of the region’s six species of migratory sea turtles. As a result, most Caribbean nations have adopted a national sea turtle management plan, poaching and illegal product sales have been reduced or eliminated at key sites, many of the region’s largest breeding colonies are monitored on an annual basis, alternative livelihood models are increasingly available for rural areas, and citizens are mobilized in support of conservation action. You can join us! Visit www.widecast.org for more information. WWW.WIDECAST.ORG “Working together to build a fu ture where all inhabitants of the Wider Caribbean Regi on, human and sea turtle alike, can live together in balance.” The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is a regional coalition of experts and a Partner Organization to the U.N. Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme. WIDECAST was founded in 1981 in response to a recommendation by the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Resources Conservation for Sustainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 26-29 August 1981) that a “Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan should be prepared ... consistent with the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme.” WIDECAST’s vision for achieving a regional reco very action plan has focused on bringing the best available science to bear on sea tu rtle management and conservation, empowering people to make effective use of that science in the policy-making process, and providing a mechanism and a framework for cooperation within and among nations. By involving stakeholders at all levels and encouraging policy-oriented research, WIDECAST puts science to practical use in conserving biodiversity and advocates for grassroots involvement in decisionmaking and project leadership. Emphasizing initiatives that strengthen capacity within participating countries and institutions, the network develops and replicates pilot projects, provides technical assistance, enables coordination in the collection, sharing and use of information and data, and promotes strong linkages between science, policy, and public participation in the design and implementation of conservation actions. Working closely with local communities and resource managers, the network has also developed standard management guidelines and criteria that emphasize best practices and sustainability, ensuring that current utilization practices, whether consumptive or non-consumptive, do not undermine s ea turtle survival over the long term. With Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, WIDECAST is uniquely able to facilitate complementary conservation action across range States, including strengthening legislation, encouraging community involvement, and raising public awareness of the endangered status of the region’s six species of migratory sea turtles. As a result, most Caribbean nations have adopted a national sea turtle management plan, poaching and illegal product sales have been dramatically reduced or elim inated at key sites, many of the region’s largest breeding colonies are monitored on an annual basis, alternative livelihood models are increasingly available for rural areas, and citizens are mobilized in support of conservation action. You can join us! Visit www.widecast.org for more information. WWW.WIDECAST.ORG