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St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Sea Turtle Conservation Program Annual Report 2010 Jessica Berkel Sea Turtle Program Coordinator St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Gallows Bay, St. Eustatius Dutch Caribbean www.statiapark.org firstname.lastname@example.org Photo: Hawksbill hatchling, Zachary Gipson
FOREWORD The 2010 Sea Turtle nesting season far surpassed anything that t he program has experienced in the 9 years of its existence. There were record numbers of Green Sea Turtle nests in cluding two clutches laid on the main nesting beach that contained rare albino Green Sea Turtle hatchlings. In previous years there was a definite end to the season in mid-October but the 2010 season saw a Hawksbill nest as late as mid-January. This meant that the next to last nest hatched at the end of March which was after the start of the 2011 season which began in mid-March. The very last nest hatched in April 2011. This report gives the reader an insight into the programs activities and tries to paint an accurate picture of the 2010 nesting season. Hoping to have submitted a complete and interesting report Respectfully yours, Jessica Berkel Sea Turtle Conservation Program Coordinator
Introduction The St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) es tablished the Sea Turtle Conservation Program following concerns that the isla nds sea turtle populations were being threatened by anthropogenic disturbance and destructio n of nesting beach habitats through sand mining, joy riding and pollution. A community outreach campaign was organized in 2001 to begin ra ising public awareness about sea turtle conservation issues. Subse quent to this initiative, a beach monitoring program was started in 2002 in affiliation with t he Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). The first t wo years of the program saw very sporadic monitoring of the index beach due to a lack o f personnel. In 2003 however, regular night patrols were conducted following the introducti on of the Working Abroad Program, which brings groups of international volunteers to assist with projects in the National and Marine Parks. By 2004 the program had expanded to i nclude morning track surveys on several of the islands nesting beaches, wit h a dedicated vehicle and a fulltime project coordinator during the nesting season. Data from the Sea Turtle Conservation Program have sh own that three species of sea turtle regularly nest on St Eustatius; the leatherback ( Dermochelys coriacea ), the green ( Chelonia mydas ) and the hawksbill ( Eretmochelys imbricata ), all of which are classified as either endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN. There was also an unconfirmed 2004 report of nesting by a fourth species, the logger head ( Caretta caretta ), which IUCN classes as threatened. In the 2010 season, two Loggerhead nests were excavated confirming for the first time that species us e of Statias beaches. The ultimate objective of the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Program is to promote long-term survival of the sea turtle populations on and around the island. This goal is achieved by safeguarding critical sea turtle habitats, conducti ng research to provide policy and decision makers with current, relevant data on the status of sea turtles in the region, and limiting environmental impacts on nesting beaches and near-shore waters. One of the most important factors to ensure the success of the project is the direct involvement of the local community in the program to pro mote a better understanding of the importance of long-term conservation, not just for sea turtles but for other locally threatened species. The aims of this Annual Report include the following: Summarize the activities of the 2010 Sea Turtle Conservat ion Program. Review the accomplishments and deficiencies of the progra m in 2010. Suggest recommendations for the 2011 program. Provide a summary of the data from 2010 research initiative s. Present information locally, regionally and internati onally about the research and monitoring program on the island. Produce a progress report for the Island Government, potent ial program funding organizations, the local community and international vol unteers.
Participating organisations St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) The Sea Turtle Conservation Program is coordinated by the St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), which is the main non-governmenta l environmental organization on the island of St Eustatius (known locally as Statia). In 1996 STENAPA was given a legal mandate by the Island Government to admi nister a new Marine Park and, in 1998, a new terrestrial National Park. STENAPA al so manages the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden. The Statia National Marine Par k surrounds St Eustatius from the high water mark to the 30 meter depth contour. There a re two marine reserves within the Marine Park which are designated no-take zones and ar e in place to protect marine habitats and reduce fishing pressures. National Marine Park s taff conducts regular patrols and enforcement, maintains dive, snorkel and yacht moorings and conducts many educational program, such as the Snorkel Club and Junior Ran ger Clubs. The Marine Park is responsible for many research and monitoring activit ies including the Sea Turtle Conservation Program. STENAPA is a not-for-profit foundation, relying on governme nt subsidies, grants and minimal income from divers, yachts and hikers to conduct its activities. STENAPA has only seven staff and relies on volunteers to assist wi th conducting field work for projects such as the Sea Turtle Conservation Program. The orga nization is supported by two international volunteer programs; the STENAPA Assista nt Ranger Program and the Working Abroad Program, which are discussed in more detail below. STENAPA Assistant-Ranger Programme Since the inception of the Assistant Ranger Program, formerly the Intern Program, in September 2001, over 43 persons from various countries includin g Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Holland, Belgium, Hungary, Germany and New Z ealand have helped accomplish projects at the Botanical Garden, in the Quil l National Park and the Statia National Marine Park. Assistant rangers are responsible for overseeing the daily activities of volunteers from the Working Abroad Progra m, in addition to managing and completing individual assignments. Assistant rangers are provided with a small monthly sti pend, basic accommodation and the use of a truck during their six-month stay. They are personally responsible however, for all travel costs and living expenses while on the isla nd. The internships allow students and professionals to gain valuable practical experi ence in their chosen field. Without these dedicated volunteers STENAPA would not be able to conduct many of its projects, since the Foundation cannot afford the manpower or expertise. Working Abroad Program Statia Conservation Project Working Abroad is an international networking service ba sed in the UK that, since it was founded in 1997, has established volunteer projects in over 150 countries worldwide. STENAPA started its collaboration with the Working A broad Program in January 2003,
and to date more than 200 volunteers have been recruited vi a their organization. Groups of up to eight volunteers stay for two months and assis t in the development of the Botanical Garden, conduct maintenance of the National Pa rk trails, and during turtle season, participate in night-time beach patrols. For th eir stay each volunteer pays approximately US$1700 towards food, water, lodging, truck hire, fuel and a project expense fee (this does not include international travelli ng costs or personal living expenses during their stay). Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Program is af filiated with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). Founded in 1981, WIDECAST represents the largest network of sea turtle research an d conservation projects in the world; with members in over 30 Caribbean states and terri tories. Affiliation provides access to a collaborative framework of organizations w ithin the region, with emphasis on information exchange, training and active community partic ipation. WIDECAST promotes interaction between different stakeholder groups to ensure effective management and conservation of turtle populations in the Caribbean. In June 2003, STENAPA Manager Nicole Esteban was appointed WI DECAST Country Coordinator for St Eustatius, following completion of a tr aining course on St Croix (US Virgin Islands). Subsequent to this, the St Eustatius Se a Turtle Conservation Program implemented WIDECAST-approved protocols for monitoring and da ta collection. WIDECAST has assisted the program through donation of ta gs and purchase of PIT tag applicator. The Sea Turtle Program Coordinator attended th e WIDECAST Annual General Meetings in 2004-2006, and 2008; with funding and logistica l assistance provided in part through WIDECAST. In October 2010, Marine Par k Manager Jessica Berkel was appointed WIDECAST Country Coordinator after N icole Esteban returned to the UK. Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Founded in 2005, DCNA represents a formal coalition of the six nature conservation management organizations of the Netherlands Antilles an d Aruba, with representation from international agencies, central government and finan cial experts. Their main goals are to safeguard the biodiversity and promote sustainable m anagement of the natural resources of the islands, through the establishment of l ong-term, sustainable funding sources. The former Manager of STENAPA held the positi on of chairperson of the DCNA for 2 consecutive terms. Funding agencies and donors To effectively run the Sea Turtle Conservation Program, the Sea Turtle Conservation Project Coordinator allocates approximately 10-20% of their time to raise funds to cover the annual program costs. Fundraising occurs both locally an d internationally by soliciting specific organizations, and by donation requests th rough newsletters and turtle awareness campaigns.
Study Sites St Eustatius The island of St Eustatius is part of the Netherlands Caribbean which includes Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. It lies in the North-eastern Ca ribbean, and is located in the Windward Islands; lying within the longitude and latitude median of 1730 North and 6258 West. The sister islands of Saba and St Maarten str etch out 30km north-west and 63km north, respectively ( Figure 1). St Eustatius is 21km in size and is dominated by two volcano es; an extinct volcano comprising the Northern Hills (150 million years old) and a dormant volcano called the Quill in the South, formed 2200 to 3200 years ago. As a resul t of its volcanic origin, the beaches of St Eustatius all have dark sand. Figure 1. Map showing location of St Eustatius in the Eas tern Caribbean
Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches: Description and activit ies in 2010 Sea Turtle activity has been recorded at five beaches on St Eustatius: Zeelandia Beach, Turtle Beach and Lynch Bay on the Atlantic side of the island, and Oranje Bay and Kay Bay/Crooks Castle on the Caribbean side. Figure 2. Nesting beaches on St. Eustatius
KAY BAY/CROOKS CASTLE This beach on the Western or Caribbean coast of the is land had been somewhat neglected in the past as it is not easily accessible and becaus e the bulk of nesting activity occurs on the Atlantic or Eastern side of the island. Also beca use of the lack of accessibility, the program had often relied on private citizens living nearby to alert us whenever any nesting activity was ascertained. This relationship was di scontinued in 2009 as only once for the season, in the month of August, did the family call to report tracks on the beach, although in total there were 10 activities noted by researchers during that season. One of the main problems with Kay Bay faced in previous years, getting to the beach, was solved in 2009 as it was decided that even though the walk along the coast to the beach was arduous due to the rockiness of the area, it was well worth it to not have the trouble of gaining access to the beach from the White Wall road above the cliff. The latter entailed, requesting permission to walk through two private properties, the many loose guard dogs on the properties requiring the presence of the owners at all times, the long walk down a rotten and creaky wooden staircase and ne edless to say having to repeat the process in reverse when finished with data re cording on the beach. Another important observation made during the 2009 nesting sea son is that due to the lack of stakes and or clear landmarks on Kay Bay severa l confirmed nests could not be found when the time came for them to be excavated. Bec ause the nests were marked only with GPS coordinates, they proved absolutely impossible to find. This was very unfortunate and disappointing as from the hat chling tracks it could be determined that at least two of the three probable nests h ad hatched. To solve this problem, at the start of the 2010 season, the coordinator and intern planted six stakes that run from the southern most end of the b each northerly towards Crooks Castle. This made the position of any possible lays and confirmed nests easier to be accurately marked. From the experiences this year, several recommendations can be put forward for the 2011 season;
1. Re-stake the beach, if stakes are missing at the start of the season as is done on the index beach. 2. Conduct morning patrols at least twice a week on Kay Bay/ Crooks Castle during the hard shell season. 3. Conduct several targeted night patrols on Kay Bay/Crooks wh en personnel numbers allow or split the patrol if enough volunteers available. 4. Even when there is no stake present researchers should be v ery diligent in accurately describing the position of the lay/possible lay including measurements and a detailed sketch. ORANJE BAY This is a very dynamic sandy beach on the Caribbean si de of the island as it experiences considerable sand movement throughout the year. It stre tches for almost 2km and runs into the harbor at its southern end. The beach is bo rdered by grass and the occasional Coconut Palm ( Cocos nucifera ). In addition to several hotels and shops; there are also ruins of warehouses on the sand and in the near-shore w aters along its entire length. Very little nesting of green and hawksbill turtles occurs on this beach due to the passing traffic, street lights and near shore restaurants an d terraces. This is most likely a deterrent to females looking for a quiet area to nest. For most of 2010, there was minimal sand on this beach due to passing tropical storms and ground seas. Besides there being a few longer stretches of sandy areas during the Easter period, sand was present only in small pockets betw een some standing walls of ruins, in front of a section of beach where the div e shop DiveStatia is located and on the small beach next to the City pier. Another aspect of Oranje Bay is that the shoreline is very minimal and slanted toward the water so that in the morning any tracks that would have be en visible on a flatter beach have long been washed away by the high tide surge. In tha t way, although you can
monitor almost the entire length of the bay very easil y, there are usually no tracks visible on this beach. During the 2010 nesting season, only 1 Hawksbill track was see n on Oranje Bay. LYNCH BAY This very small, rocky beach is located around the point to the south of Turtle Beach; it is approximately 200m long. There is minimal ground vegetation cover, primarily Bea ch Morning Glory and is backed by a sloping cliff which provides the only access when tides prohibit movement from Turtle Beach. Unlike many of the other beaches on the island, Lynch Bay is stable due to the adjacent reef barrier that provides a natural shelter and aids sand retention. Green and hawksbill nesting activity has been recorded at this beach, and it was the site of an unconfirmed loggerhead nesting event i n 2004 (I. Berkel, Pers. Comm.). Due to access issues, Lynch Bay can only be moni tored safely during the day. During the 2010 season Lynch Bay was monitored for activities 7 times and tracks leading to a nest were visible on one of those occasions. The sand is of a very gritty texture and tracks are not very clearly visible even whe n viewing them the day after they were made. TURTLE BEACH This is the second longest continuous beach on the Atlan tic side, measuring approximately 400m. It links to Zeelandia Beach at its northern point, and connects to Lynch Bay around a point t o the south. It is a steeply sloping bay subject to consider able sand movement, especially during the hurricane season (July November). It is backed by cliffs and there is virtuall y no vegetation except for occasional Sea Grape trees on the cliffs. There is a storm water ghaut in the middle of the beach which was formerly used as the land-fill for the island. Although n ot currently used, this ghaut still contains a large amount of refuse and is open to the bea ch. Unfortunately, access to this beach at night is often prohibited due to strong surge, and the refore it is patrolled only when conditions permit. In the 2010 nesting season, 14 acti vities were recorded on this beach of which 6 were actual lays.
ZEELANDIA BEACH At over 1 km this is the longest beach on St Eustatius an d is directly linked to Turtle Beach at its Southern end. It is a narrow beach bac ked by cliffs on some stretches, except in the northern 200m where there is a relatively spars e border of Sea Grape trees ( Coccoloba uvifera ). In this region there are also the remains of an abandoned hotel behind the beach and the principal public access area. Gro und vegetation is not extensive, limited to small patches of Beach Morning Glory ( Ipomoea pes-caprae ) and an unidentified succulent-type plant, which are both grazed by cows that occasionally shelter under the sea grape trees. The beach is very dynamic wi th considerable sand movement throughout the year. Despite this, the Northern end is the most stable, permanent beach on the island. Erosion is extensive close to the acce ss area, especially following heavy rains. This problem is exacerbated by sand removal in that region. Close to the Southern end of the beach is a large storm water ghaut which acts a s the landfill for the islands household waste. Zeelandia is the primary turtle nestin g beach hosting four species of turtle (green, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead), and t he only place on the island where leatherbacks have been recorded nesting. It is t he only beach regularly monitored at night by the Sea Turtle Conservation Program because of easy access and the volume of activity. It was a good season for Zeelandia beach in 2010 with over 100 recorded activities.
Pre-Season Preparations The 2010 Sea Turtle Conservation Program began with the f ollowing activities: Beach Preparation To prepare the primary nesting beach for patrols, numbered stakes were positioned at 20m intervals along Zeelandia Beach. These stakes are us ed to mark the location of all nests or false crawls recorded during day or night patrols Each stake was placed as close as possible to the vegetation or cliff behind the beach. Stakes remaining from the 2009 season were repainted and any missing stakes were replaced. A beach cleanup was done in the middle of March to facil itate walking on the beach at night and to remove as much debris as possible that could ha mper any nesting attempts. Material Preparation The designated turtle bag for nightly patrols and all other equipment for the program were inventoried. Missing materials such as gloves, tape measures etc. were purchased. Training of Volunteers The materials used for teaching volunteers about the Sea Turtle Conservation Program were reviewed before the first group from Working Abroad ar rived in February 2010. The two existing short presentations were updated in early 2010; the first was a basic introduction to sea turtles, their biology and nesting beha vior; the second focused on beach monitoring protocols and the correct use of the data collection sheets. Every volunteer received training before assisting with beach mo nitoring. Other Preparations At the beginning of the 2010 nesting season, the following ac tivities were performed: New Turtle Program interns In mid-February, the position of turtle program intern wa s advertised internationally through Corallist, Idealist and WorkingAbroad. There was a good response to the offer however 2 volunteers that were already on island expre ssed an interest in the position and were accepted. In mid-March, Mr. Erik Boman and Ms. Anna Ma itz, both from Sweden, were given training by the Program Coordinator. Protection of Zeelandia beach In January of 2008 a life-sized replica of a Leatherback t urtle was built by then Marine Park Ranger Walter Gadjet Blair and National Park Ran ger Nadio Spanner. The concrete turtle was produced as part of the Zeelandia Be ach Beautification project. The turtle has a three part function; it provides a great opti cal representation of the endangered Leatherback turtle while offering a protective ba rrier against sand miners wishing to drive on to the beach using that particular access point. It also proves an
invaluable tool in training the Working Abroad volunteers and I nterns in biometric sampling and nesting protocol. Sand mining continues to be a problem at Zeelandia Beach. Although illegal, people continue to take anywhere from a few buckets of sand to fu ll truck loads. The Program Coordinator and turtle interns had to be creative with the erection of barriers preventing driving on the beach. Several discarded oil drums were found next to the public dump and were used to block several vehicle access points in order to deter sand miners. They were buried up to 1/3 of their height and filled with boulders. The barrels worked as they prevented sand miners from driving on the beach in that area but determined persons could still remove sand by walking onto the beach with buckets. As shown in the picture, large amounts of sand can be removed in this manner. Protection of the beach also involved maintaining and cleaning the sea turtle information signs. On Sunday, August 18 th a beach rally was held at Zeelandia beach where ov er 10 off road vehicles drove on the sand along the beach. The ve hicles came very close to destroying several nests but luckily t hey escaped being driven on. After several incidents involving dogs in the previous seasons, an Nest partially excavated by a dog.
important preparation for the 2010 season was the erection of a sign at the main beach entrance, warning dog owners to keep a close watch on their dogs. It is impossible to prevent dogs from digging holes on the beach but signage ur ging persons to investigate exactly what their animals are digging up could prevent a ne st from being destroyed completely or hatchlings being hurt or predated upon. There were luckily no incidents involving dogs during the 2010 nest ing season. However nearer the end of the season in December, two feral dogs living at the dump were venturing further and further on to the beach prompting the Coordinator to ensure that their tracks were not leading to any nests.
Beach Cleanups 2010 As Zeelandia beach is the primary nesting beach, a beach cleanup is performed at the beginning of the sea turtle nesting season and usually once a month during the entire season if it is warranted. Following is a summary of beach clean ups for the 2010 sea turtle nesting season: Date Beach area Results Comments March 19 Zeelandia 20.5 kg Large engine cover April 07 Zeelandia 7 kg April 16 Zeelandia/Turtle beach 79 kg Large rope, mesh, boa rds May 14 Zeelandia/below dump 61.5 kg Large rope removed June 14 Zeelandia 60 kg School Kids August 06 Zeelandia 127 kg Nov 26 Zeelandia 61.5kg Big net, Cooler, plastic Many persons expressed an interest in joining the beach cle an ups but were unable to as beach cleans are usually carried out on Friday mornings w hen the majority of the public is at work. Education, Community Outreach and Media Exposure The annual STENAPA Summer Club program took place from July to mid-August during the local school summer vacation. The Summer Club is open to all children, locals and visitors alike, between the ages of 8 and 13. In 2010 a total of 32 children took part in the
activities of which the sea turtle program section was a part. Twice a week for 6 weeks Summer Club participants took part in turtle related acti vities in sessions lasting two hours. Some of these activities included, track surveys, ne st excavations, nest relocations, presentations with knowledge reviews and sea turtle themed games. Besides children, the Sea Turtle Program tries to involve the general public as much as possible in its activities in order to generate interest and support for sea turtles. On Saturday, November 6 th 2010 a hatchling release was done in the early evening and members of the public were encouraged to attend. H atchling releases are usually publicized using the turtle call list which is comprised of a list of members of the public who have requested to be called in such an event and also through staff members that spread the word to interested friends and relatives who in turn pass on the information to their friends. The hatchling release saw some 20+ persons witnessing the event. Additionally interested members of the public could join the nightly beach patrols after signing a waiver form and receiving instructions from the patrol leader. On several occasions during the season persons would come to the beach and sit at a certain vantage point and look out for turtles. Since i t is a public beach, they are allowed to do so, but the patrol at every opportunity explained th e need for quiet and the restrictions on using white lights. The night patrol dia ry does not adequately reflect the amount of times members of the public were on the beach as in most situations they were not actually a part of the patrol. Interested persons were called to the beach to witness a nesting female several times during the season but again, exact figures of the amount a re not recorded. As in previous years, an encouraging percentage of nest excavations were done with the assistance of a non-staff member. The actual investigation of the eggs was done by the Turtle Program Coordinator and a watchful eye was kept on the data that was being recorded by the assisting volunteer. Hatchling Release Jan 22 2011Photo: Anna Maitz
Written publication of Sea Turtle program activities was minimal. The Daily Herald Newspaper Articles 2010 Wednesday, August 18th Beach Rally Threatens Zeelandia Turtle NestsSTENAPA Update Newsletter articles 2010 Newsletter 1/2010 March -2010 Turtle Nesting Season Starts Newsletter 3/2010 September Busy Nights at the BeachCHANGE Magazine, Volume 6 n o 3 (Magazine published in the Netherlands) Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire, New Dutch Municipalitie s St. Eustatius: A Diamond in the Rough
Beach Mapping and Erosion measurements Due to the highly dynamic nature of Zeelandia beach, perio dic beach mapping is carried out to measure the shifting of the sand. Using the stakes which are placed for nest triangulation and that are situated 20 meters apart measur ements are taken using the following method: A team of two people measure the distance from the high tide line (HTL) to each stake. Then using a Theodolite mounted on a tripod, the height o f the stake against the high tide line (sea level) is recorded at every fifth stake. This is best done with one researcher deciding the HTL and the other person reading the Theodolite The researcher on the HTL (marked by highest ocean debris) stands with an extend able pole, marked in feet and inches. While this is being done the Theodolite is pla ced above the stake (as close as possible as in some places the stake was in the cliff or at an angle making placing the centre of the Theodolite base directly above the top o f the stake impossible to achieve) and leveled using the adjustable legs on the tripod and the l eveling devices on the Theodolite. Once the built-in spirit level was set w ith the air bubble in the middle, the lens cap was removed, focused and a reading at the central cross-hair taken. The distance between the base of the Theodolite and t he top of each stake is measured using the plumb line. The distance between the top of e ach stake and the sand is also measured. By taking these measurements, combining them and then subtracting from the height measurement recorded from the Theodolite (which w as converted into meters from feet) we get the actual height of the beach above sea level (HTL). All data was recorded and logged on a specific data sheet and entered int o the computer averages calculated and recorded. Beach mapping took place in the month of April 2010 and unfortun ately due to time constraints and personnel shortage, the 2 additional beach surveys were not conducted. Hopefully in the 2011 season the program will be able to get back on track with conducting all 3 scheduled beach mapping surveys.
BEACH EROSION Loss of the numbered stakes continued throughout the entire season and was particularly a problem during the high surges caused by passing storms. Fortunately the currents at Zeelandia are such that uprooted stakes can more often than not be retrieved as they tend to get washed ashore later on. Due to high sand movement certain stakes, usually stake #1, #33 to #38, #42 to 51 and stakes #65, 66 and 67, are buried beneath the sand for a period of months. Towards the end of December many of the 70 stakes were not in place. For a high percentage of the season there are very few suitable nesting areas on Zeelandia. The beach from stake #28 to 51 is usually completely eroded. Patrolling is difficult as the waves reach the cliff and one has to walk in the surf to get to Turtle beach. CLIFF FALLS If a significant landslide or cliff fall was encountere d during a patrol on any nesting beach, the following data were recorded; the date, time ( if known), amount of cliff affected and a description of the damage, including a photograph whenever possible. Areas of sand mining were also recorded and amounts of san d removed estimated. During the 2010 nesting season, there were quite a number of cliff falls presumably because of the many heavy rain showers that caused signif icant runoff from the tops of Cliff Fall stake #55 Cliff fall stake #58
the cliffs. The runoff undermines any cracks in the clif f causing large segments to fall away. Because of the incidences of cliff falls both this sea son and in previous seasons, when the beach is severely eroded and the patrol will be forced t o walk against the cliff, patrols are usually ended in the area of stake #45 near the Smiths Gha ut public dumpsite. It is not worth the danger to patrol further on and any tracks can b e hopefully found in the morning if the tide did not wash them away. The hazardous c onsequences of walking or sitting too near the cliff while on patrol are repeatedl y stressed during training of volunteers and interns. Monitoring and Research Activities During the 2010 nesting season several different monitoring a nd research activities were conducted as part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program : Morning Track Surveys Daily morning track surveys were carried out from March 15 th 2010 up to and including October 10 th 2010 on the primary nesting beach (Zeelandia Beach) and Turtle Beach. After the latter date, daily afternoon patrols and weeke nd morning patrols were conducted by the Program Coordinator and a member of the publi c until December 30 th Thereafter patrols were done every other day with a vie w of monitoring the remaining nests on Zeelandia. Besides the index beach, only Oranj e Bay could be monitored on a daily basis because of its proximity to the National Par ks Visitor Center. Surveys of the remaining two beaches, Lynch and Crooks Castle/Kay Bay w ere performed on an irregular basis. For each track observed the following information is re corded: Observer Name of observer recording data. Date Weather Brief description of weather conditions. Moon phase Based on the previous nights moon; this informa tion is recorded to determine whether there is a relationship between moon phas e and emergence. Species If possible to determine from the track. Track width Measured as the straight-line distance betwe en the outer flipper edge marks; taken to the nearest millimeter. For each t rack the width is measured at three random locations and the average used in analyse s. GPS location Measured either at the centre of the ne st or at the apex of a false crawl track. Locale name Name of the beach.
Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-l ine distance to the two nearest numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimete r. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false cra wl track. Distance to vegetation Straight-line distance to the vegetation behind the beach or to the cliff if no vegetation; taken to the nearest centimeter. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. Distance to high tide line Straight-line distance to the most recent high-tide line; taken to the nearest centimeter. Measured either from t he centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. Number of unsuccessful nest cavities If the turtle made m ore than one attempt at nesting during the same emergence. Result of nesting attempt Recorded as either lay, probabl e lay, false crawl (when some nesting activity observed) or track only (no n esting activity at all). A lay can only be determined if the eggs are found or in hindsig ht upon hatching. All nests were monitored daily during morning track surveys; di sturbed or destroyed nests were noted. After recording a track it is erased to ensure that data is not collected twice for the same track. During the regular season w hich ends on Oct 30 th surveys were conducted as early as possible in the morning to prevent trac ks from being disturbed or washed away. For continuity, and to increase the accur acy of data collection, surveys were conducted by the Program Coordinator, intern or train ed personnel.
Data sheet used for both morning track surveys and nightly beac h patrols
Results Morning and Afternoon Track Surveys 2010 nesting season : During the entire season a total of 265 morning track surveys were carried out. Beach Times surveyed Activities recorded Zeelandia Beach 266 17 Tracks, 21 Dry runs, 8 Nests, 3x Hatchling tracks, 2 Unconfirmed nests. Lynch Beach 07 1 track, 3 nests Turtle Beach 179 See Zeelandia beach Oranje Bay 273 2 tracks including 1 nesting attempt Crooks/Kay Bay 09 10 Tracks, 3 Nests, 4 Unconfirmed Tumble Down Dick Beach 03 No activity Turtle beach is included for the results of Zeelandia be ach since they are considered as one beach in the database. This start of this nesting season almost mirrors the l ast 3 seasons in that the first track was observed on March 15 th The last activity which far exceeded any season was observed on the 31 st of January, 2011 which is exactly three and a half months later than the close of the previous season. The 2010 season ended with a Hawksbill making a dry run and a Loggerhead depositing a nest at the far end of Zee landia beach. The Leatherback nesting season ran from March 19 th to June 2 nd 2010. Green turtle activities were recorded from April 25 th to November 17 th 2010 and the Hawksbills appeared from July 23 rd to January 31 st Morning track surveys continued into the early part of 2011 be cause some nests had still not hatched and needed to be monitored and maintained. The last confirmed nest was due to hatch mid-March 2011 so although the regular morning patrols ceased on Dec 31 st the Program Coordinator went to the beach sporadically to m onitor nests up to February, 2010. The breakdown of activities per sea turtle species is as follows: Species Confirmed nest Unconf. Nest Crawls/Activities Leatherback 05 06 04 Green turtle 39 30 65 Hawksbill 06 12 14 Loggerhead 06 00 03 The data above translates into an overall improvement on the previous season which the exception being the amount of Leatherback nests. For leat herbacks there were 6 confirmed nests in 2010, greens had 47 confirmed nest and there were 18 confirmed nests for the Hawksbills in 2010. The amount of morning track surveys conducted this year, 265 is only 27 more than the 238 surveys carried out the previous year.
nr nnnn n rr r rn0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 MarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec MonthsActivities Leatherback Green Hawksbill
Nightly Beach Patrols Nightly beach patrols were conducted on Zeelandia Beach and, when sea conditions permitted, Turtle Beach. Due to the low nesting densities at other beaches, it is an inefficient use of resources to carry out regular patrols at these other locations. Each patrol consisted of a minimum of two people; including the Program Coordinator, sea turtle intern or Marine Park intern. A stretch of beach approximately 1km in length was monitored on Zeelandia Beach (up to 1.4km when Turtle Beac h was included). Hourly patrols were conducted between 9.00pm 3.30am. The primary objective of the beach patrols was to encoun ter as many nesting turtles as possible. Apply flipper and/or internal tags as appropriate, collect carapace measurements, mark the location of the nest for inclus ion in a nesting success survey and relocate any nests laid in suspected erosion zones. The data collected when a turtle was observed is identical to that collected on morning track surveys except for the following additional data and considerations: Observer Name of observer recording data. Date Patrols span two dates but to avoid confusion the fi rst date is used throughout the entire patrol. Time At the moment the turtle is first encountered Weather Brief description of weather conditions. Moon phase This information is recorded to determine whethe r there is a relationship between moon phase and nesting emergence. Species If the turtle is not observed the species is de termined from the track, where possible. Tag information Any tags already present are recorded, n ew tags placed are also recorded on the sheet. Activity At the moment the turtle is first encounter ed. Classed as emerging, searching, body pitting, digging egg chamber, laying, covering, d isguising, gone (used if turtle has returned to the sea). Carapace Length Measured from the notch to the tip of t he carapace. Carapace Width Measured at the widest point of the cara pace. Parasites/Ectobiota The presence of any parasites on the turtle are recorded, with a brief description of the parasite; its location is indicated on a diagram on the data collection sheet. Injuries Any injury to the turtle is described and the loca tion indicated on a diagram on the data collection sheet. Notes Any additional pertinent information about the tur tle or their behavior Track width This is only recorded if the turtle is not ob served during the patrol. Measured as the straight-line distance between the out er flipper edge marks; taken to the nearest millimeter. For each track the w idth is measured at three random locations and the average used in analyses. Nest depth measured as a straight-line distance from t he peduncle or cloacae (if turtle is present) to the bottom of the nest.
GPS location Measured either at the centre of the ne st or at the apex of a false crawl track. When possible this is taken while the turtle is depositing eggs, when the egg chamber is open and the exact location of the eggs are known. Locale name Name of the beach. Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-l ine distance to the two nearest numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimete r. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false cra wl track. When possible these measurements are made while the turtle is depositing eggs s o that the exact location of the eggs is known. Distance to vegetation Straight-line distance to the vegetation behind the beach or to the cliff if no vegetation; taken to the nearest centimeter. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. When possible this measurement is made while the turtle is depositing eggs so that the exact location of the eggs is known. Number of unsuccessful nest cavities If the turtle made m ore than one attempt at nesting during the same emergence. Result of nesting attempt Recorded as either lay (when the turtle was seen laying), probable lay (if the nest site suggests that the t urtle laid but no eggs were seen), false crawl (when some disturbed sand observed) or track only (no nesting activity at all, no disturbed sand). Relocation data If the nest is laid in an unsuitable l ocation which is prone to erosion or flooding the eggs are relocated to a more secur e section of the beach. The following data are recorded for this new nest site. o New GPS location Taken at the centre of the new egg c hamber. o Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-l ine distance to the two numbered stakes closest to the new nest location; taken from the centre of the new egg chamber. o Distance to vegetation Taken from the centre of the new egg chamber. o Distance to high tide line Taken from the centre of th e new egg chamber. o The number of eggs The total number of eggs; also recorded separately are the number of yolked and yolkless eggs if applicable. o Time eggs deposited The time the turtle began to lay eggs o Time eggs reburied The time the eggs were placed in the ne w egg chamber. All data were collected either while the turtle was la ying or immediately afterwards when she was covering the nest site. No turtle was touched or appr oached before she had started to deposit her eggs. Once the turtle had returned to the sea, a line was drawn in the sand through both tracks or they were erased to indicate to the person conductin g the morning track survey that data had been collected, preventing data repetition for t he same track or nest.
Results of 2010 Nightly Beach Patrols: Nightly monitoring of Zeelandia beach began on March 1 9 th ended on October 12 th and was done on a fairly regular basis. Patrols were only cancelled due to impending bad weather (storms/hurricanes), lightning strikes in the Zee landia area and resorting to targeted patrols because of lack of personnel. In all the re were 104 nightly patrols during the 2010 season. The timeframe within which nests were deposited varied w ith the earliest lay occurring at 21:00 hrs and the latest finishing after 3:00am. This late fini sher is not reflected on the graph because she started nesting at 00:46am and due to a missing re ar flipper took just over 3 hours to complete the task. 9-10 pm 10 11 pm 11 12 12 1 am 1 2 am 2 3 am 3 4 am DC 3 3 CM 28 15 9 6 7 1 EI 3 nr0 5 10 15 20 25 30 21:0022:00 22:0023:00 23:0024:00 24:0001:00 01:0002:00 02:0003:00 3:0004:00Numbers of activities Leatherback Green Hawksbill It is always stressed during training that the patrols are to start promptly at 9pm as it has been shown that turtles can emerge as early as up to an hour before that. During the 2010 nesting season, 3 Leatherbacks were encountere d. There was almost certainly a 4 th Leatherback but it was not seen by the patrol, the nes t was found the following morning. 2 Green turtles and possibly 3 Hawksbills we re encountered. The Hawksbill count is not certain as there were no tags a nd no attempt was made to tag the female(s).
ENTER NEST DISTRIBUTION GRAPH HERE Tagging Methods Flipper Tags Metal flipper tags (National Band and Tag Company, MONEL Style #49: WC251 WC350 and INCONEL Style #681: WE1 WE100) were donated by the Marine Turtle Tagging Centre, Barbados, which is affiliated with WIDECAST. All tag applicators are inspected and cleaned on a routine basis and replaced when they cease to function properly. Standard tagging methods are used, based on protocols of the Tur tle Monitoring Program in St Croix, USVI. For leatherbacks, external flippe r tags are applied to the centre of the fleshy skin located between the back flipper and the tail. For hard shell species, tags are applied adjacent to the first large scale on the proximal part of the front flipper where the swimming stroke will cause minimal tag movement (Balazs, G. H, 1999). Tags are applied while the turtle is covering her nest, immediately after she has finished laying eggs. This is done so that the turtle is not disturbed prior to laying. Two metal tags are attached to each turtle, both leatherbacks and hard-shelled species to ensure that if one tag is lost the individual can still be recognized. External flipper tags were only applied by the Program Coor dinator and the turtle intern. The 2 Green turtles that nested in 2009 already had flipper tags. The Green (WE13 WC303new) was missing a flipper tag on the right flipper and a new one was placed by the Program Coordinator. Because of the thickness of the flipper a MONEL tag was used. They are normally used for Leatherbacks but an INCONEL tag was too small by far. The Leatherback WC306/WC307 received two tags after laying her eggs in April. No attempt was made to tag the Hawksbills that were encountered. Figure 3: Tagging site Hard shells
Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tags The program still has PIT tags which were purchased with funding from KNAP Fund, MINA. For leatherbacks only, in addition to the two external flipper tags, one PIT tag is also applied. A PIT tag is a small microprocessor which transmits a unique identification number when read using a hand-held scanner. While the turtle is depositing eggs, a single PIT tag is inserted under the skin in the right front shoulder muscle of the turtle using an applicator. All leatherbacks encountered were scanned for the presence of PIT tags using an AVID scanner before a PIT tag was inserted, to avoid double-tagging individuals. Only the Program Coordinator and trained staff should apply PIT tags. None were applied during the 2009 nesting season as 2 of the 3 female Leatherbacks that visited this season had already been PIT tagged and add itionally the PIT tag reader malfunctioned in early April and had to be sent to the USA for repairs. The Leatherback (133764653A) was previously recorded on Zeelandia beach in 2005 and the Leatherback (4B12030C2D) was a turtle that had been recorded nesting on th e neighboring island of St. Kitts. WC306/WC307 was tagged on Zeelandia beach on April 9 th of this season but it could not be determined if she was also carrying a PIT tag a s the reader was malfunctioning at the time. The Green turtle (WE11-WE7) w as recorded on Zeelandia in 2005. Carapace Measurements Standard carapace length and width measurements (as of Bol ten, 1999) were taken of each nesting turtle encountered, after she had finished laying and at every encounter thereafter when possible. Measurements were made using a flexible tape measure; each measurement was taken once, to the nearest millimeter. Leatherbacks Curved carapace length (CCL) was measured from the nuchal notch (the anterior edge of the carapace where it meets the skin) in a straight line to the most poste rior tip of the caudal projection When the caudal projection is not symmetrical the measurement is made to the longest poin t (any such irregularity would be noted on the data collect ion sheet as influencing the measurement). Measurements were taken just to the right of the central ridge, not along its crest, to avoid errors associated with carapace surfa ce irregularities. Tagging sites for Leatherback
Curved carapace width (CCW) is measured at the widest poin t, but there are no standard features delineating the end points. The tape m easure passes over the ridges and does not follow their contours. Hard Shell species For green and hawksbill turtles the curved carapace length notch to tip (CCL n-t) was measured. It is measured in a straight line from the anterior point at the mid-line (where the carapace and skin meet) to the posterior tip of the supracaudal scutes. Because the supracaudals are often asymmetrical CCL n-t is taken to the longest tip. Curved carapace width (CCW) is measured in a straight line between the widest points of the carapace, there are no anatomical features markin g the end points. Nest Survival and Hatching Success All nests recorded were included in a study on nest survival and hatching success. Nests were monitored during the daily morning track surveys. Close to the predicted hatching dates (approx. 55 days) the triangulation data were used to m ark the site of the egg chamber; to prevent the surveyor having to re-measure the n est each day a small V of sticks or some other clearly identified mark was placed on the sand behind the nest site. This area was closely monitored for evidence of hatching; a depression, hatchling tracks or hatchlings. After signs of hatching were observed the n est was excavated within 48 hours; if no signs of hatching were recorded the nest was ex cavated after at least 70 days from the date the eggs were deposited. All excavations wer e conducted by the Program Coordinator or trained personnel to ensure accuracy of data collection. If a depression or other sign of hatching was present the excavator carefully dug down at this point until the first egg was encountered; if hatching ha d not been observed the triangulation data were used to locate the egg chamber. Us ing gloves, the nest contents were carefully removed from the egg chamber and inventorie d. The following data were recorded for each excavated nest: Nest code Each nest was given a unique identification nu mber. Observers Names of people present during excavation.
Date The date the nest was laid; when hatching was ob served and the date the excavation was conducted. Number of empty shells Only shells corresponding to mor e than 50% of the egg were counted; representing the number of hatched eggs. Number of hatchlings Any hatchlings found in the egg chamber we re recorded; dead or alive. Number of un-hatched eggs Eggs were opened to search for the presence of embryos and categorized as: o No embryo No obvious embryo present. o Embryo Embryo present; includes all stages of develop ment. o Full embryo Embryo in final stages of development and r eady to hatch. Number of pipped eggs Eggs where hatchling had broken the egg s hell but failed to hatch; characterized by triangular hole in th e shell. Whether hatchling was alive or dead was also recorded. Number of predated eggs If possible the type of predator was noted; often characterized by a circular hole in the shell. Number of deformed embryos Any deformities were recorded such as missing flippers, additional scutes on carapace, albinism or the presence of multiple embryos in a single egg Number of yolkless eggs Small, yolkless eggs were count ed separately. Notes Any additional pertinent information was recorded. Depth of nest To the top of the egg chamber (first egg en countered) and the bottom of the egg chamber (after final egg removed); measure to nearest centimeter. Any hatchlings found alive were released to the sea. When the inventory was complete the nest contents were discarded in the surf to prevent bacterial infection of the sand.
Figure 4: Example of the nest excavation data sheet used. Figure 5 : Data sheet used for recording nest excavation information
LEATHERBACK SUMMARY Nest Survival and Hatching Success 2010 leatherback numbers were very low therefore they are only included here to give an overview of the activities and dates. nr0 1 2 3 4 5 6 MarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecnrr There were 13 leatherback activities of which 5 were confi rmed lays, 5 were probable lays, 2 were dry runs and 1 was track only. Nest Code Date Time Result Comment No Code 15 Mar-10 17:30 Dry Run DC1001 17-Mar-10 07:35 Lay Unhatched DC1002? 21-Mar-10 8:30 Probable Lay Could not find DC1003? 02-Apr-10 21:00 Probable Lay Could not find DC1004? 10-Apr-10 9:05 Probable Lay Could not find DC1005? 17-Apr-10 9:50 Probable Lay Could not find DC1006 19-Apr-10 22:20 Dry Run DC1007? 25-Apr-10 12:00 Probable Lay Could not find DC1008 03-May-10 10:15 Lay Unhatched DC1009 12-May-10 09:00 Lay Could not find DC1010 21-May-10 22:15 Lay WC337 DC1011 01-Jun-10 7:25 Lay Unhatched DC1012 02-Jun-10 8:00 Track Only As can be seen from the chart above no leatherback ha tchlings were encountered during the 2010 season. There were no signs of hatchling tracks in the areas of the probable lays and the lays that could not be found. This has prompted the pro gram to be more aggressive in our conservation efforts for the 2011 season e specially where it concerns the leatherback nests.
nnrnr nn n The graph above, which is a good reflection of activity di stribution not only for the 2010 season but for all previous years, shows that leatherb acks very rarely emerge much farther than the wide sandy area on Zeelandia beach be tween stakes 3 and stakes 16. By utilizing this and previous distribution maps the program can concentrate their monitoring efforts on that area of the beach during leat herback nesting season. There were 2 re-migrant leatherbacks during the season whi ch were tagged previously by the program. The leatherback WC339 (PIT 133922451A) which had visited in 2008 and then m easured CCL 158cm and CCW 106cm, returned to nest this season and was measured this time at CCL 168cm and CCW 119cm. This female was encountered only once in 2010 and deposited a nest on that occasion. Leatherback WC337/8 (PIT 134614623A) had visited in 2005 with measurement s of CCL 147.5cm and CCW 114.6cm and was measured this year at CCL 164c m and CCW 118cm. This female deposited two nests in 2010 as recorded by progra m researchers. Both females had lost a tag and unfortunately no new ones could be applied because of the position of the female while nesting. Although the t ag reader was not working during this season the PIT tag numbers were retrieved from t he previous years data.
GREEN TURTLE SUMMARY Nest Survival and Hatching Success All 47 confirmed green turtle nests are included in the nest survival and hatching success study. 36 probable nests were unconfirmed, including two at Kay Bay, and therefore not included. There were 25 dry runs recorded and 44 track only sight ings. This brought the total of CM activities to 152 for the 2010 season. nr0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 MarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecnrr nnr nn n
nnr nn n Because of the widely distributed activities of the Gree n turtle, once the hard shell season starts in late June to July, the entire beach must be patrolled each evening. Because the length of the beach is 1.4km, and because hard shells are harder to target than leatherbacks, this part of the season is very taxing for the night patrol. For that reason the program focuses mostly on targeting of leatherbacks at t he beginning of the season, in order to conserve manpower and prevent burnout before the nesting season ends. The table below provides a summary of the nest survival dat a obtained from each green turtle nest of 2010; each table details, nest code, turtle identification number, fate of the nest and incubation period in days (if known). All the confirmed nests in question were located on Zeelandia beach. Nest Code Turtle ID Date Result Nest Fate Incubation Days Excavated CM1013 Unknown July 26 10 Lay Hatched +/65 days Oct 02 1 0 CM1014 Unknown July 26 10 Lay Hatched Unknown Oct 23 10 CM1015 WC315 WE57 July 27 10 Lay Unknown Unknown n/a CM1016 WC304 July 29 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Sept 25 10 CM1019 Unknown Aug 04 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Oct 19 10 CM1022 Unknown Aug 05 10 Lay Hatched +/55 days Oct 14 10 CM1026 WC258/257 Aug 11 10 Lay Unknown n/a n/a CM1029 WC302 Aug 12 10 Lay Unknown n/a n/a CM1037 WE24/25 Aug 14 10 Lay Hatched +/63 days Oct 2 4 10 CM1045 Unknown Oct 25 10 Lay Unknown n/a n/a CM1054 Unknown Aug 21 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Oct 09 10 CM1055 WC253 Aug 21 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Oct 23 10 CM1058 Unknown Begin of July Lay Unhatched Dug up by other turtle Oct 09 10 CM1061 WC258 Aug 23 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Nov 06 10
CM1070 Unknown Sep 02 10 Lay Hatched 68 days Nov 17 10 CM1082 WE25 Sep 02 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Nov 27 10 CM1089 Unknown Sep 04 10 Lay Hatched 74 days Nov 28 10 CM1092 Unknown Sep 08 10 Lay Hatched 67 days Nov 14 10 CM10100 Unknown Sep 11 10 Lay Hatched 59 days Nov 09 10 CM10101 Unknown Sep 11 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Nov 14 10 CM10102 WC315 Sep 11 10 Lay Unhatched n/a n/a CM10104 Unknown Sep 13 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Dec 04 10 CM10110 Unknown Sep 15 10 Lay Hatched +/65 days Oct 03 10 CM10112 White Dot Sep 18 10 Lay Hatched +/57 days No v 21 10 CM10113 Unknown Sep 19 10 Lay Hatched 48 days Nov 06 10 CM10114 Unknown Sep 19 10 Lay Hatched 61 days Nov 19 10 CM10115 Unknown Sep 20 10 Lay Hatched 49 days Nov 09 10 CM10117 Unknown Sep 21 10 Lay Hatched 57 days Nov 19 10 CM10118 Unknown Sep 21 10 Lay Unhatched 42 days Dec 04 10 CM10119 Unknown Sep 22 10 Lay Hatched 52 days Nov 23 10 CM10129 Unknown Sep 27 10 Lay Hatched 68 days Dec 04 10 CM10134 Unknown Sep 29 10 Lay Hatched 66 days Dec 04 10 CM10135 Unknown Sep 29 10 Lay Hatched Unknown Dec 01 10 CM10138 Unknown Sep 30 10 Lay Unhatched n/a Dec 08 10 CM10139R Unknown Oct 01 10 Lay Hatched 45 days Nov 15 10 CM10141aR Unknown Oct 14 10 Lay Hatched +/65 days Dec 22 10 CM10141 Unknown Oct 09 10 Lay Unknown n/a n/a CM10142 Unknown Oct 22 10 Lay Hatched 60 days Dec 22 10 CM10143 Unknown Oct 23 10 Lay Unhatched n/a n/a CM10144 Unknown Oct 23 10 Lay Unhatched n/a n/a CM10146 Unknown Oct 24 10 Lay Hatched 74 days Jan 05 11 CM10147 Unknown Nov 06 10 Lay Hatched 72 days Jan 22 11 CM10150 Unknown Nov 17 10 Lay Hatched Unknown Jan 02 10 CM10151 Unknown Unknown Lay Hatched Unknown Jan 02 10 CM10UN01 Unknown Unknown Lay Unhatched Exposed by cliff fall Oct 09 10 CM10UN02 Unknown Unknown Lay Hatched Found due to hatchling tracks Nov 20 10 CM10UN03 Unknown Unknown Lay Hatched Found then Lost Nov 23 10 CM10141 and CM10141aR almost share the same nest code because CM 10141a was found a month after it was deposited. It was found during a search for another nest and had initially been recorded as a dry run attempt by the f emale. Since nests had been recorded after it was deposited, it was decided that to av oid the confusion which would result from giving it a higher number than nests deposited af ter it, it would instead get a letter after the nest code. The nest codes that end wi th an R were those relocated to a safer area. The survival rate of nests for green turtles was encouragin g. As can be seen in the summary above only 12 of the 47 nests were unsuccessful. N ests whose fate was unknown were either washed away during storm surges or could not be relocated for excavation, even after extensive digging, due to inexact measurements on the data sheets.
The average incubation period was determined from the 27 nest s that hatched with known incubation days to be 60 days. Species Mean depth to bottom/cm Mean # eggs / nest Mean % hatching Mean % emergence Green turtle 68 106 53.26% 54% Below is a summary of nest content data obtained from excavated green turtle nests of 2010; detailed are nest code and a breakdown of the results of the excavation. All the nests listed were located on Zeelandia beach. Nest Code Laid Excavated Alive Dead Shells No Embryo Embryo Full Embryo CM1013 26 July 02 Oct 0 2 45 2 48 0 CM1014 26 July 23 Oct 0 1 1 2 107 0 CM1015 27 July n/a ? ? ? ? ? ? CM1016 29 July 25 Sept 0 0 0 3 93 3 CM1019 4 Aug 19 Oct 0 0 0 0 105 16 CM1022 5 Aug 5 Oct 0 0 1 3 81 0 CM1026 11 Aug n/a ? ? ? ? ? ? CM1029 12 Aug n/a ? ? ? ? ? ? CM1037 15 Aug 24 Oct 1 1 119 0 0 0 CM1045 25 Oct n/a ? ? ? ? ? ? CM1054 21 Aug 09 Oct 0 0 0 26 41 0 CM1055 21 Aug 09 Oct 0 0 0 36 130 0 CM1058 22 Aug 09 Oct 3 22 42 18 51 1 CM1061 23 Aug 06 Nov 0 0 0 1 112 0 CM1070 2 Sept 17 Nov 0 0 83 0 24 0 CM1082 2 Sept 27 Nov 0 0 0 2 127 0 CM1089 4 Sept 28 Nov 0 0 59 0 24 0 CM1092 8 Sept 14 Nov 9 0 125 1 5 9 CM10100 11 Sept 09 Nov 3 1 45 0 45 0 CM10101 11 Sept 14 Nov 0 0 0 10 153 0 CM10102 11 Sept n/a 0 0 0 ? ? ? CM10104 13 Sept 04 Dec 0 0 6 0 124 2 CM10110 15 Sept 03 Oct 0 0 1 10 45 0 CM10112 18 Sept 21 Nov 7 0 106 0 8 0 CM10113 19 Sept 06 Nov 120 0 120 0 0 1 CM10114 19 Sept 04 Dec 0 1 70 0 7 0 CM10115 20 Sept 23 Nov 6 4 137 0 2 1 CM10117 21 Sept 19 Nov 3 8 79 0 0 0 CM10118 21 Sept 04 Dec 0 0 0 0 24 51 CM10119 22 Sept 23 Nov 0 0 97 0 7 0 CM10128 24 Sept n/a 0 ? 0 ? ? ? CM10129 27 Sept 04 Dec 4 1 87 0 8 1 CM10134 29 Sept 04 Dec 13 38 91 0 3 0 CM10135 29 Sept 01 Dec 0 14 39 2 64 2 CM10138 30 Sept 08 Dec 0 0 0 0 89 0 CM10139R 1 Oct 15 Nov 56 7 65 0 0 1 CM10141 9 Oct n/a 0 0 0 ? ? ?
CM10141aR 14 Oct 22 Dec 3 0 65 0 3 0 CM10142 22 Oct 22/30 Dec 52 0 55 0 1 0 CM10143 23 Oct 30 Dec 0 0 0 ? ? ? CM10144 23 Oct 30 Dec 0 0 0 ? ? ? CM10146 24 Oct 05 Jan 11 18 0 101 0 4 1 CM10147 6 Nov 22 Jan 11 9 0 92 2 5 0 CM10150 16 Nov 07 Feb 0 0 0 0 78 22 CM10151 Unknown 2 Jan 11 0 0 89 1 24 0 CM10UN01 Unknown 09 Oct 11 0 0 0 22 22 0 CM10UN02 Unknown 20 Nov 11 1 5 129 0 7 0 CM10UN03 Unknown 23 Nov 11 0 0 6 0 2 1 There were again yolkless eggs encountered during Green nest excavations in 2010. HAWKSBILL SUMMARY
Nest Survival and Hatching Success All of the 11 confirmed Hawksbill nests were later excav ated. 5 activities were recorded as Track only and there were 4 Dry runs. An additional 13 nests were probable lays and the eggs were never found. !r0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 MarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecnr !nr nn n Nest Code Turtle ID Date Result Nest Fate Incubation Excavation
EI1020 None Aug 28 10 Lay Hatched 65 Nov 02 10 EI1022 None Sept 09 10 Lay Hatched 61 Nov 13 10 EI1025 None Sept 24 10 Lay Hatched 60 Dec 01 10 EI1026 None Nov 13 10 Lay Hatched 67 Jan 22 10 EI1027UN None Unknown Lay Hatched Unknown Nov 22 10 EI1028 None Dec 13 10 Lay Hatched 104 Apr 02 10 EI1029 None Jan 15 10 Lay Hatched 91 Apr 23 10 EI1030UN None Unknown Lay Hatched Unknown Feb 04 10 EI1031UN None Unknown Lay Hatched Unknown Feb 04 10 EI1033UN None Unknown Lay Hatched Unknown Dec 26 10 EI1034 None Jan 31 11 Lay Unknown n/a Feb 05 11 All 10 nests listed above were located on Zeelandia Bea ch and Lynch Beach. As in previous years, the nests on Kay Bay were impossible to locate although hatchling tracks were seen on several occasions. Also the stakes that were placed on Kay Bay were helpful for some nests but the sand composition is ext remely rocky. Below is a summary of nest content data obtained from excavated hawksbill turtle nests of 2010; detailed are nest code and a breakdown of the result s of the excavation. Nest Code Incubation Total days Alive Dead Shells No embryo Embryo Full embryo EI1020 65 0 0 2 4 89 0 EI1022 61 1 3 13 1 145 4 EI1025 60 0 0 142 0 8 0 EI1026 67 28 3 173 0 6 0 EI1027UN Unknown 37 0 58 3 42 2 EI1028 104 28 6 88 0 8 34 EI1029 91 1 0 127 3 14 1 EI1030UN Unknown 0 8 94 0 37 1 EI1031UN Unknown 0 0 139 0 0 0 EI1033UN Unknown 0 0 146 0 4 0 EI1034 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 EI1034 was a very unique nest as it was entirely composed of deformed eggs most of which were attached to a long string. The eggs were extre mely fragile and even while trying to remove them from the nest they were tearing in your hand. The nest was therefore filled with yolk and dark brown to black liquid. Species Mean depth to bottom/cm Mean # eggs / nest Mean % hatching Mean % emergence Hawksbill 23.5cm 137 59.10 76.33
INFECTED AND (PARTIALLY) COOKED EGGS As there were a number of incidences of infected eggs in 2009, one of the recommendations for this year was to make an effort t o properly document the occurrence of infected and (partially) cooked eggs from the beginning of the season. Since we were keenly paying attention to it this year it wa s quickly noted that there was a decrease in the amount of infected eggs seen and also of partially cooked or cooked eggs. It is something that the program will continue to record in the future as in some years there is a considerable amount of nests lost due to the two factors of bacterial infection and excessively high sand temperatures. With the predicted increase in temperatures the program will be in a position to best determine from co mbined years data what mitigating measures can be taken to address the problem. The summary below contains a breakdown of infected and (partially) cooked eggs from all nests excavated during the 2010 season and a breakdown by spe cies and location. Mean percentage of infected green turtle eggs 20% Mean percentage of cooked green turtle eggs 20% Mean percentage of infected hawksbill turtle eggs 17% Mean percentage of cooked hawksbill turtle eggs 19% While there is very little data recorded in the past, t he percentages are still a little high for the nesting population that we have locally. Some resea rch has gone into figuring out the reasons why this happens as well as trying to determine if thi s happens only in particular areas. The thought is to acquire data loggers for the 2011 season tha t can measure sand temperatures and moisture in different areas of the bea ch. With that information we hope to be able to narrow the causes of the 1. Total amount of hatchlings survived in 2010: Leatherback 0 Green 1850 Hawksbill 962 Unknown 61
TURTLE STRANDINGS There were 4 turtle strandings during the 2010 season. On th e 23 rd of June, a turtle was reported at the beach behind Smoke Alley called Tumble Down Dick Bay. When the turtle interns went to investigate they found a hawksbill turtle that had been dead for at least 2 weeks, probably more. No abrasions to carapace, limbs intact. Turtle was on its back, the carapace length was 93 cm, the carapace width, 61 cm. The turtle was not moved much as its advanced state of decomposition made it difficult to handle. Larvae and flies were present. The second turtle was reported stranded at Zeelandia beac h. It was found in a pool high up on the beach after a particularly violent stor m surge. This was a hawksbill turtle that was in its epipelagic phase, 4cm to 20cm. (Diez and van Dam, 1997). There were no external injuries visible on the turtle but there were signs of dehydration. A third specimen was found at Lynch Beach by STENAPA Junior rangers during a beach cleanup. This was a green turtle with measurements of CCL 21cm and CCW 18cm. There was extensive damage to the plastron and it was in an advanced stage of decomposition. Cause of death therefore could not be determined as was the case in all three abovementioned strandings.
On Feb 25 th 2011, a dive master in training from one of the local dive shops came in with a juvenile hawksbill that was found floating in the harbor. There was damage to the right shoulder and it was in a state of severe dehydration. The CCL was 24.8 cm and the CCW was 21 cm. It was checked for tags and there were none found.
Recommendations for the 2011 nesting season PREPARATIONS & CONSIDERATIONS: Provide adequate training for the turtle program interns and v olunteers. Emphasize the need to fill in all data fields on the forms. Regardless of training given to program assistants, Prog ram Coordinator should be present at initial tagging events. Program coordinator is responsible for excavations and re locations unless confident that assistant can carry them out in their a bsence. Service the truck that is dedicated to the program as it should be in ready condition to use when on call. Re-stake the beach. Stakes also need to be repainted. Ch eck Kay Bay for restaking as well. In addition to replacing and repainting missing stakes, the s take number must be painted on to the cliff face as it is inevitable that st akes will be removed by storm surge. Erect signs at the other 2 entrances to the beach urgin g dog owners to be vigilant when letting their dogs loose on the beach. Warn owners to investigate when their dogs are digging to avoid damage to nests. Replace the barrels that block vehicular access to the beach as they were displaced during a late 2010 storm. Publicize the start of the season via all available medi a with a reminder that Zeelandia is a protected sea turtle habitat and all that implies. Notify the police and public prosecutor of the start of the season and the anticipation of their cooperation in the event of viola tions. COMMUNITY AWARENESS Revitalize Summer Club activities as many children are r epeat participants and find themselves involved in the same activities every year. Organize at least one evening presentation on sea turtles and the Program for the general public. If well attended, repeat. Dedicate at least two radio programs to sea turtles if th ere are no other pressing topics to be discussed. Update and utilize the list of persons wishing to view a ne sting turtle, hatchling release or accompany the patrols. Publicize any notable events occurring during the season in the regional newspaper. Highlight the turtle program on the local television sta tions along with current footage. ACTIVITIES: Continue with the beach beautification project as plant ing trees can also help to minimize runoff on the beach.
Step up morning patrols on Kay Bay and Lynch beach to at le ast twice a week during Green and Hawksbill season. It is not good practice to rely on a volunteer resident to do this as was shown during the 2009 season. Continue to lobby the company NuStar Energy NV to reduce the bright lighting on their storage tanks facing the beach. Continue to work on a light pollution solution to the bu ildings along the cliff. As much as possible try to leave nests in situ. Only in ex treme situations should a nest be relocated. Relocation should be done to a site that is at least p artially shaded during the day. Discard all remains from excavations into the surf instea d of reburying them on the beach to avoid bacterial contamination of the sand. Take more accurate measurements when triangulating a nest location including the distance to the cliff face if applicable. During the 2010 season several nests could not be relocated for excavation due to inaccurate an d confusing measurements. Initiate the use of the t-shape lint system to easier r elocate the nest chamber as using only the one lint straight down makes it hard to find the nest irrespective of the measurements given. Twice a month check Tumble Down Dick beach to the North of Smoke Alley Every confirmed nest should be excavated and the eggs exami ned to determine the true fate of the nest. Beach mapping should be carried out as and when it was don e in previous years to have a more long term view of sand movement and erosio n on Zeelandia beach. Data Loggers have been acquired with the help of the previous Manager and should be utilized to get a more accurate picture of sand te mperatures and moisture on the index beach. Utilize the new and improved data entry fields on the c omputer. Nothing has been changed but it has been simplified for easier analysis at the end of the season.