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St Eustatius National Parks F oundation Sea Turtle Conservation Program Annual Report 2012 Jessica Berkel Sea Turtle Conservation Program Coordinator St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Gallows Bay, St. Eustat ius Dutch Caribbean www.statiapark.org email@example.com Photo: Hawksbill hatchling, Zachary Gipson Photo by Olga Schats 2012
2 FOREWORD The 201 2 Sea Turtle nesting season was a very busy season compared to the previous year in which no turtles were encountered. One of the main h ighlight s of the season was the return of the Green turtle named projects carried out in 2012 besides the recording of nesting femal es and they are also fe atured in this report. The aim of the work is to improve the management and operation of the program as well as to improve the nesting conditions and overall hatching success of the nests laid on the index beach. The 2012 report contains more graphs and less text for a faster overall view of the results of Hoping to have submitted a complete and interesting report, Respectfully yours, Jessica Berkel Sea Turtle Conservation Program Coordinator On the cover: Close up of Green Turtle Hatchling heading to sea, Oct 2012
3 Introduction The St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) established the S ea Turtle Conservation Program being threatened by anthropogenic disturbance and destruction of nesting beach habitats through sand mining, joy riding and pollution. A community outreach campaign was organized in 2001 to begin raising public awareness about sea turtle conservation issues. Subsequent to t his initiative, a beach monitoring program was started i n 2002 in affiliation with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). The first two year s of the program saw very sporadic monitoring of the index beach due to a lack of personne l. I n 2003 however, regular night patrols were conducted following the introduction o f the Working Abroad Program which br ings groups of international volunteers to assist with projects in the National and Marine Parks. By 2004 the program had expanded t o include morning track surveys time project coordinator during the nesting season. Data from the Sea Turtle Conservation Program have shown that three species of sea turtle r eg ularly 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 Th ere was also an unconfir med 2004 report of nesting by a fourth species, the loggerhead ( Caretta caretta ) which IUCN classes as threatened The ultimate objective of the St Eustatius S ea Turtle Conservation Program is to promote long term survival of the sea turtle populations on and around the island. This goal is achieved by safeguardi ng critical sea turtle habitats, conducting research to provide policy and decision makers with current, relevant data on the status of sea turtle s i n the region, and limiting environmental imp acts on nesting beaches and near shore waters. One of the most important factors to ensure the success of the project is the direct involv ement of the local community in the program to promote a better understanding of the importance of long term conserva tion, 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 20 1 2 Sea Turtle Conservation Program. Review the accomplishments and deficiencies of the program in 20 1 2 Suggest recommendations for the 201 3 program. Provide a summary of the data from 20 1 2 research initiatives. Present information locally, regionally and internationally about the research and monitoring program on the island. Produce a progress re port for the Island Government, potential program funding organizations, the local community and international volunteers.
4 Participating organi s ation s 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 governmental environmental organization on the island of St Eustatius (known locally as Statia). In 1996 STENAPA was given a legal mandate by the Island G overnment t o administer a new Marine Park and, in 1998, a new terrestrial National Park STENAPA also manages the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden. The Statia National Marine Park surrounds St Eustatius from the high water mar k to the 30 meter depth contour. There are two mari ne reserves w ithin the M arine Park which are designated no take zones and are in place to protect marine habi tats and reduce fishing pressure s M arine P ark staff conducts regular patrols and enforcement, maintain s dive snorkel and yacht moorings and cond uct s several educational program s such as the Snorkel Club and Junior Ranger Clubs. The Marine Park is responsible for many research and monitoring activities including the Sea Turtle Conservation Program. STENAPA is a not for profit f oundation, relyin g on government subsidies grants and minimal income from divers yachts and hikers to c onduct its activities STENAPA has only s even staff and relies on volunteers to assist with conduct ing field work for projects such as the Sea T urtle C onservation Prog ram. The organization is supported by two international volunteer programs ; the STENAPA Intern P rogram and the Working Abroad P rogram which are discussed in more detail below. STENAPA Intern Programme Since the inception of the Intern Program in Septe mber 2001 over 50 persons from various countries including Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Holland, Belgium, Hungary, Germany and New Zealand have helped accomplish projects at the B otanical G arden, in the Quill National Park and the Statia National M arin e P ark. Interns are responsible for overseeing the daily activities of volunteers from the Working Abroad P rogram in addition to managing and completin g individual assignments Interns are provided with a small monthly stipend and basic accommodation. T hey are personally responsible however, for all travel costs and living expenses while on the island. The internships allow students and professionals to gain valuable practical experience in the ir chosen field. Without these dedicated volunteers STENAPA w ould not be able to conduct many of its projects, since t he Foundation cannot affor d the manpower or expertise. Working Abroad Program Statia Conservation Pro ject Working Abroad is an international networking service based in the UK that, since it was fo unded in 1997, has established volunteer projects in over 150 countries worldwide. STENAPA started its collaboration with the Working Abroad P rogram in January 2003 and to date more than 20 0 volunteers have been recruited via their organization Groups
5 o f up to eight volunteers stay for two months and assist in the development of the B otanical G arden, conduct maintenance of the N ational P ark trail s, and during turtle season, participate in night time beach patrols. For their two month stay each vo lunteer pay s approximately US$1700 towards food, water, lodging, truck hire, fuel and a project expense fee (this does not include international trave lling costs or personal living expenses during their stay). Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WI DECAST) The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Program is affiliated with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Founded in 1981, WIDECAST represents the largest network of sea turtle research and conservation projects in the wo rld; with members in over 4 0 Caribbean states and territories. Affiliation provides access to a collaborative framework of organizations within the region, with emphasis on information exchange, training and active community participation. WIDECAST promo tes interaction between different stakeholder groups to ensure effective management and conservation of turtle populations in the Caribbean. In June 2003, STENAPA M anager Nicole Esteban was appointed WIDECAST C ountry C oordinator for St Eustatius, foll ow ing completion of a training course o n St Croix (US Virgin Islands). Subsequent to this the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Program implemented WIDECAST approved protocols for monitoring and data collection. WIDECAST has assisted the program thro ugh donation of tags and purchase of PIT tag applicator. The Sea Turtle Program Coordinator attended the WIDECAST Annual General Meetings in 2004 2006 2008 2011 and 2012 ; with funding and logistical assistance provided in part through WIDECAST. In Octobe r 2010, Marine Park Manager Jessica Berkel was appointed WIDECAST Country Coordinator after Nicole Esteban returned to the UK. Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) F ounded in 2005, DCNA represents a formal coalition of the six nature conservation managem ent organizations of the Caribbean Netherlands with representation from international agenc ies, central government and financial experts The ir main goal s are t o safeguard the biodiversity and promote sustainable management of the natural resources of th e islands, through the establishment of long term, sustainable funding sources. The former Directo r of STENAPA held the position of chairperson of the DCNA for 2 consecutive terms Funding agencies and donors To effectively run the Sea Turtle Conservat i on Program, the Sea Turtle Conservation Project C oordinator allocate s approximately 1 0 2 0% of their time to raise funds to cover the annual p rogram costs. Fundraising occurs both locally and internationally by soliciting specific organi z ations and by don ation requests through newsletters and turtle awareness campaigns
6 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 Caribbean, and is loca t ed in the Windward Islands ; lying within the longitude and latitude median of 1730 North and 6258 West The s ister islands of Saba and St Maarten stretch out 30 k m north west and 63 k m north respectively ( Figure 1 ) St Eustatius is 21km in size and is dominated by two volcanoes; an extinct volcano comprising the Northern Hills (150 m illion years old) an d a dormant volcano called the Quill in the S outh formed 2200 to 3200 years ago. As a result o f its volca nic origin, the beaches of St Eustatius all have dark sand. Figure 1 Map showing location of St Eustatius in the E astern Caribbean
7 Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches : Description and activities in 20 1 2 Sea Turtle activity has be en recorded at eight beaches on St Eustatius: Zeelandia Beach, Turtle B each Lynch Bay and Compagnie Bay on the Atlantic side of the island, and Oranje baai Tumble Down Dick Bay, Crooks Castle and Kay Bay on the Caribbean side. Figure 2 Nesting beaches on St. Eustatius Zeelandia Beach Turtle Beach Compagnie Bay Lynch Beach Tumble Down Dick Oranjebaai Crooks Castle Kay Bay
8 KAY BAY /CROOKS CASTLE This beach on the Western or Caribbean coast of the island is somewhat neglected during the season as it is not easily acces sible and because the bulk of nesting activity occurs on the Atlantic or Eastern side of the island. Formerly, d ue to the lack of stakes and or clear landmarks on Kay Bay several confirmed nests could not be found when the time came for them to be excava ted. Because the nests were marked only with GPS coordinates, they proved absolutely impossible to find. This has since been remedied with the placement of 6 numbered stakes to aid in triangulation. Kay Bay is a very small narrow beach where erosion and cliff falls is very common The sand at Kay Bay is very rocky and makes it difficult to dig when trying to confirm a nest. The bulk of activities at Kay Bay are attributed to Hawksbill turtles. Crooks Castle which lies to the north of Kay Bay sees the occ asional Green turtle track and nesting attempt but again the majority of the activity is Hawksbill activity. From the experiences over the year s several conditions remain in place for Kay Bay ; 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 on ce a week on Kay Bay / Crooks Castle during the Green and Hawksbill nesting season. 3. Conduct several targeted night patrols on Kay Bay/Crooks when personnel numbers allow or split the p atrol if enough volunteers a vailable. 4. Even when there is no stake present researchers should be very diligent in accurately describ ing the position of the lay/possible lay including measurements and a detailed sketch. Figure 3 Rocky beach at Kay Bay
9 ORANJEBA AI Figure 4 Oranjebaai is monitored daily as the Parks office is located at its far end This is a very dynamic sandy beach on the Caribbean side of the island as it experiences considerable sand movement throughout the year. It stretches for almost 2km and runs into the harbor at its southern end. The beach is bordered 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 waters 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 and terraces. This is most likely a deterrent to females looking for a quiet area to nest. Fo r a large part of 20 1 2 there was minimal sand on this beach due to passing tropical storms and ground sea s Besides there being a few longer stretches of sandy areas during the Easter period, sand was present only in small pockets between some standing wa lls of ruins, in front of a section of beach where the dive shop DiveStatia is located and on the small beach next to the City pier. An other aspect of Oranje baai is that the shoreline is very minimal and slanted toward the water so that in the morning a ny tracks that would have been visible on a flatter beach have long been washed away by the high tide surge. In that way, although you can monitor almost the entire length of the bay very easily, there are usually no tracks visible on this beach. During th e 201 2 nesting season there was a day time nesting of a Hawksbill turtle
10 LYNCH BAY COMPAGNIE BEACH 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 vegetati on cover, primarily Beach M orning G lory 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 th at 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 in 2004 (I. Berkel, Pers. Comm.). Due to access issues, Lynch Bay can only be monitored safely during the day. During the 20 1 2 season Lynch Bay was monitored for activities several times. There were some tracks recorded and two unknown nests were excavated Nest content examination showed that they had hatched succes sfully. The sand is of a very gritty texture and tracks are not very clearly visible even when viewing them the day after they were made. Further to the south of this beach is the Compagnie Beach which was not monitored in the past. Due to a report of a tr ack, the beach was surveyed 6 times in 2012 and several activities as well as successfully hatched but previously unknown nests were found. Results for Compagnie Beach are for Green turtles, 2 probable lays and 3 confirmed lays, for Hawksbills, 3 probable lays and 4 confirmed lay s. TURTLE BEACH This is the second longest continuous beach on the Atlantic side, measuring approximately 400m. It links to Zeelandia Beach at its northern point, and connects to Lynch Bay around a point to the south. It is a steeply sloping bay subject to considerable sand movement, especially during the hurricane season (July November). It is backed by cliffs and there is virtually 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 not currently used, this ghaut still contains a large amount of refuse and is open to the beach. Unfortunately access to this beach at night is often proh ibited due to strong surge, and therefore it is patrolled only when conditions permit. In the 20 1 2 nesting season, the beach was monitored over 200 times. Several Green as well as Hawksbill nests were deposited on this beach. Isolated Lynch Bay Turtle Beach
11 ZEELANDIA BEACH Zeelandia Beach At over 1 km t h is is th e l ongest beach o n St Eustatius and is directly linked to Turtle Beach at its Southern end. It is a narrow beach backed by cliffs on some stretches except in the northern 200m where there is a relatively sparse 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. Ground vegetation is not extensive, limited to small patches of Beach Morning Glory ( Ipomoea pes capra e ) and the succulent plant Purslaine (Portulaca oleracea) which are both grazed by cows that occasionally shelter under the sea grape trees. The beach is very dynamic with 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 access 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 g ha ut which acts as the hosting four species of turtle (green, leatherback hawksbill and loggerhead ), and the only place on the island where leatherbacks have been reco rded nesting. It is the only beach regularly monitored at night by the Sea Turtle Conservation Program because of easy access and the volume of activity It was a very busy season for Zeelandia beach in 20 1 2 with over 200 recorded activities
12 Pre Season Preparations The 20 1 2 S ea T urtle C onservation P rogram began with the following activities: Beach Preparation To prepare the primary nesting beach for patrols, numbered stakes were positioned at 20m intervals along Zeelandia Beach T hese stakes are used 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 20 11 season were repainted and any missing stakes were re placed. recommendations, the stake number was also painted on the cliff wall to facilitate measurements when the surge has removed both stake and sand in an area. Material Preparation The designated turtle bag for nightly patrol s and all other equipment for the program were inventoried. Missing material s such as gloves tape measure s etc. were purchased. Training of Volunteers The materials used for teaching volunteers about the S ea Turtle Conservation Program were reviewed in M arch 20 1 2 The two existing short presentations were updated in early 20 10 ; the first was a basic introduction to sea turtles, their biology and nesting behavior; the second focused on beach monitoring protocols and the correct use of the data collection s heets. Every volunteer receives training before assisting with beach monitoring. Other Preparations At the beginning of the 20 1 2 nesting season, the following activities were performed: 2012 Turtle Program intern A search for an intern for the progr am went out on the website StopDodo early in 201 2 The successful applicant M r s. Erin Britton of Australia arrived on the island on April 1 st and stayed until September 12 th She is a crocodile specialist who along with her husband is the co owner of the Crocodile consultancy business The fact that she already had experience with tagging (albeit crocodiles) and was more mature/grounded than the other candidates was a plus Erin Br itton preparing to excavate nest
13 Protection of Zeelandia beach in 201 2 The life sized replica of a Leatherback turtle built in January 2008 by former Marine with the help of the turtle program coordinator and intern is still in place at one of the access points to the beach The concrete turtle was produced as part of the Zeelandia Beach Beautification project and ha s a three part function; it provides a great visual representation of the endangered Leatherback turtle while offering a protective barrier 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 Interns in biometric sampling and nesting protocol. Protection of the beach also involved maintaining and clean ing the sea turtle information signs. Sand mining continues to be a problem at Zeelandia Beach. Although illegal, people continue to take anywhere from a few buckets of sand to full truck loads. Several options were explored in blocking access to the beach but none could foil the sand miners. A more structured solution is still being sought. As part of the anti sand mining efforts and the Zeelandia Beach beautification project, there were a few Family Fridays devoted to Zeelandia Beach. A tractor belonging to LVV (the agriculture and fisheries department) assisted in moving boulders to one of the access points on the beach that sand miners regularly use to get as close to the sand as possible with their vehicles. Nustar Energy NV assisted with d onating and transporting giant used tires to Zeelandia to block off two access points from the main road. A group of staff, interns and volunteers from the public helped to fill the tires with dirt Figure 9 Sandminers on Zeelandia Blocking access to beach Team effort blocking access and planting trees
14 and plant coconut trees inside so that there will be some shade in that area in the future. An attempt was also made to plant succulents and salt resistant plants to prevent erosion at the main entrance to the beach. Although there were plant gaurds and aloes, which are not attractive to cows, the cows, goat s and sheep still managed to undo most of the planting work within weeks. After several incidents involving dogs in previous season s an important preparation for the 201 2 season was the maintenance of the sign s at the main entrance s warning dog o wners to keep a close watch on their dogs and the placement of an additional sign. It is impossible to prevent dogs from digging holes on the beach but sign age urging persons to investigate what their animals are digging up could prevent a nest from being destroyed completely or hatchlings being hurt or predated upon. There were no incidents involving dogs during the 201 2 nesting season. Persons continue to take advantage of the isolation of the beach to drive on the sand at night. Though there are sev eral signs indicating the harm that this activity can cause to hatchlings both on the sand and in the egg chamber. Almond sapling Variegated Agave Refurbished sign Car tracks on sand near nest Warning sign
15 Beach Cleanups 20 1 2 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 Zeelandia beach clean ups for 20 1 2 : Date Clean up Cordinator Nesting season? # people Distance cleaned (m) Estimated time (h) Nr of bags Total weight (kg) 27 Jan Julia Herbolsheimer no 4 300 2 10 91 23 Mar Alexie Stephens yes 8 400 1.5 15 116 4 May Anna Maitz Yes 4 500 2 16 73 22 Jun Jessica Berkel Yes 6 900 1.5 8 68 17 Jul Erin Britton Yes 15 1000 1 6 32.3 24 Jul Broadrea ch Yes 13 1000 1 15 59 17 Aug Anna Maitz yes 4 500 2 16 100 27 Oct Anna Maitz yes 6 600 2 8 55.5 21 Dec Steve Piontek no 24 800 2.25 40 255 Total 15.25 134 849.8 Usually members of the public are unable to assist as cleanups are conducted on Frid ay mornings when the majority of the public is at work. This year however due to the use of our Facebook page, many more volunteers some employed and some retired, came out to help. A well attended beach clean up event
16 E ducation Community Outreach and Media Exposure T he annual STENAP A Summer Club program took place from July to mid August during the local school su mmer vacation. The S ummer C lub is open to all children, locals and visitors alike, between the ages of 8 and 13. In 20 1 2 i nstead of focusing all 6 weeks on sea turtles alone a more comprehensive Marine Park program was put together. Twice a week for 6 weeks Summer C lub participants took part in sea turtle and Marine Park related activities in sessions lasting two hours. T he activities included track surveys, excavations, rel ocations, presentations and sea turtle themed games. T he Sea Turtle Conservation Program tries to involve the general public as much as possible in its activities to generate interest and support for sea turtles. Summer Club children watch as a hatchling is release d into the surf Volunteers, interns and public watch a nest excavation
17 On July 2 nd members of the public wer e invited to a Leatherback hatchling release which turned out to be very disappointing as there were no live hatchlings left in the nest. 48 persons, locals and tourists alike were present to witness an excavation at Oranjebaai in the area of Dive Statia. On several occasions, interested member s of the public joined the weekend morning surveys and were fortunate enough to witness excavations that yielded live hatchlings. Hat chling r eleases 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 rel ease s for 2012 were attended by at least 96 members of the public Additionally interested members of the public could join the nightly beach patrols after signing a waiver form and receiving instructions from the patrol leader. Written p ublication of Sea Turtle program activities was minimal The Daily Herald Newspaper Articles 20 1 2 Tue s day, Ma y 8 th First Leatherback lays eggs on St. Eustatius Thurs day, August 9 th Turtle season getting busy on St. Eustatius 20 1 2 Newsletter 1/2012 April The Leatherbacks are back (p2) Newsletter 2 /20 1 2 July Why are the turtles dying? What can we do? (p2) Thank you for the donations (p3) A public weekend hatchling release
18 Beach Mapping and Erosion measurements Due to the highly dynamic nature of Zeel andia beach, period ic beach mapping is carried out to measu re the shifting of the sand. Using the stakes which are placed for nest triangulation and that are situated 20 meters apart m easurements are t aken using the following method: A t eam of two people measure the distance from the high tide line (HTL) to each stake Then using a T heodolite mounted on a tripod the height of the stake against the high tide line (sea level) i s recorded at every fifth stake. This is best done with one researcher deciding t he HTL and the other person re ading the Theodolite. The researcher on the HTL (marked by highest ocean debris) st an d s with an extendable pole, marked in feet and inches While this i s being done the T heodolite is placed above the stake (as close as possibl e as in some places the stake was in the cliff or at an angle making placing the centre of the T heodolite base directly above the top of the stake impossible to achieve) and leveled using the adjustable legs on the tripod and the leveling devices on the T h eodolite. Once the built in spirit level was set with 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 the top of each stake is measured u sing the plumb line The distance between the top of each stake and the sand is also measured. By taking these measurements, combining them and then subtracting from the height measurement recorded from the T heodolite (which was converted in to 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 into the computer averages calculated and recorded. This data shows a trend of beach movement and erosion over the ye ars. Beach mapping took place in the month s of March August and Novem ber 20 1 2 A report comparing the data from 2006 up to 2011 is available as a separate document. E XTENDABLE POLE
19 BEACH EROSION L oss of the numbered stakes continued thro ughout 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 Du e to high sand movement certain stakes, usually stake #1, #42 to 51 are buried beneath the sand for a period of months. Towards the end of December many of the 70 stakes are not in place. For a high percentage of the season there are very few suitable nest ing areas on Zeelandia. The beach from stake #2 8 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. Stake 65 on a wide Turtle Beach in August Stake 65 gone. The sea is up to the cliff in the beginning of November
20 CLIFF FALLS If a significant landslide or clif f fall was encountered 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 rec orded and amounts of sand removed estimated. Cliff falls for the year 20 1 2 : Date # Stakes Approx Area/amt Feb 17 2012 35 100 tons 51 9 tons April 07 2012 37 mostly soil large boulders Aug 10 2012 40 1x1x.5m 60 3x10x20 62 63 few kgs Aug 27 2 012 35 38 100 tons, entire side of cliff 51 large boulders 8 10 tons Sept 02 2012 38 40 D irt boulders >1 0 tons Sept 21 2012 55 Massive cliff fall Corner Turtle Oct 09 2012 19 30 kg 57 80 Oct 14 2012 38 4 tons Oct 17 2012 17 1 ton 21 .3 tons 2 9 5 tons Oct 20 2012 32 4 tons Because of the cliff falls both this season and in previous seasons, when the beach is severely eroded and the patrol will be forced to walk against the cliff, patrols are usually ended in the area of stake #4 2 near the Sm dangerous to patrol further. A ny tracks can be found in the morning if the tide was not too high The consequence s of walking or sitting too near the cliff while on patrol are repeatedly stressed during training of volunt eers and interns. Cliff Fall stake #55 Cliff fall stake #38 40
21 Monitoring and Research Activities During the 20 1 2 nesting season several different monitoring and research activities were conducted as part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program: Morning Track Surveys M orning track surveys were carri ed out from April 2 4 th 20 1 2 to November 1 2 th 20 1 2 on the primary nesting beach (Zeelandia Beach) and Turtle Beach. Beside s the index beach, only Oranje baai could be monitored on a daily basis because of its proximity to the National Parks Visitor Center. Surveys of the remaining beaches, Lynch Compagnie, Tumble Down Dick and Crooks Castle/Kay Bay were performed on an irregular basis. For each track observed the following information is recorde d : Observer Name of observer recording data. Date Weather Brief description of weather conditions. Moon phase determine whether there is a relationship between moon phase and emergence. Species If possible to determine from the track. Track width Measured as the straight line distance between the outer flipper edge mark s; taken to the nearest millimet e r. For each track the width is measured at three random locations and the average used in analyses. GPS location Measured either at the ce ntre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. Locale name Name of the beach. Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight line distance to the two nearest numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimet e r. Measured either from the cent re of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. Distance to vegetation Straight line distance to the vegetation behind the beach or to the cliff if no vegetation; taken to the nearest centimet e r. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at t he 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 centimet e r. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. Number of unsuccessfu l nest cavities If the turtle made more than one attempt at nesting during the same emergence. Result of nesting attempt Recorded as either lay, probable lay, false crawl (when some nesting activity observed) or track only (no nesting activity at all). A lay can only be determined if the eggs are found or in hindsight upon hatching. All nests were monitored daily during morning track surveys ; disturbed or destroyed nests were noted. After record ing a track it is erased to ensur e that data is not col lected twice for the same track. During the regular season which ends on Oct 30 th s urveys were conducted as early as possible in the morning to prevent tracks from being disturbed or washed away. For continuity, and to increase the accuracy of data coll ection, surveys were conducted by the Program Coordinator, intern or trained personnel.
22 Data sheet used for both morning track surveys and ni ghtly beach patrols
23 Results Morning / Afternoon Track Surveys 20 1 2 nesting season : Turtle beach is noted separately f rom the results of Zeelandia beach Previously they we re considered as one beach in the database but in 2012 Turtle Beach was monitored a few more times than Zeelandia Beach due to the use of the Southern access The count for Turtle Beach may be a bit confusing as the majority of the times it is accessed by walking the l ength of Zeelandia Beach. However if the Zeelandia beach figure is not included it will seem as if Turtle Beach was monitored only 19 times in the s eason which is NOT the case. Oranje baai is surveyed by vehicle every weekday morning as it is on the way t o the office, and on some weekends. When included in the count it brings the morning surveys to a total of 6 9 5 Compagnie Beach is added this year as there was a report from Ranger Nadio Spanner that he had seen a track on that beach at the weekend. A s you can see from the graph, there were subsequently 9 activities recorded for that beach.
24 A breakdown of the total morning survey effort is shown above. There was an encouraging amount of persons from the public walking along with morning surve ys especially in the weekend. Some surveys were done in the afternoon due to time constraints. As well as patrolling, many persons were interested in seeing the actual excavations. Most excavations took place in the weekends or after work in the aftern oons which accounts for the low intern number.
25 Th e start of the 2012 nesting season came later than the last 4 season s in that the first track was observed on April 2 4 th The last activity which far exceeded any season was observed on December 26 th 201 2 The nesting season ended with a Hawksbill making a dry run on Oranjebaai The extremely short Leatherback nesting season was from April 24 to May 12 th Green turtle activities were recorded from May 29 th t o November 12 th 201 2 and the main bulk of t he H awksbills appeared from Ju ne 2 5 th to November 3rd There was a Hawksbill track and probable nest recorded on February 17 th 2012 at Turtle Beach but the eggs were never found. The season started very slowly in April with the appearance of the 1 st Le atherback track. The 2012 turtle intern, Erin Britton, arrived from Australia on April 1 st and as you can see from the graph, it was a very slow first couple of months of the season. For most of the time until things picked up in July, M r s. Britton assiste d the Rangers in the Marine Park as there was very little turtle related activity to occupy her. Unfortunately, the turtle intern left the island in the middle of September and there was a significant increase of activity after that which led to the Coordi nator assisted by members of the public having to c onduct all the field work. This has led to the decision of scheduling future interns to come a few months later in the year so that they are on island for the hard shell season which is more difficult to predict. The program can easily cope with Leatherbacks that are very easy to target therefore any assistance is better left until the leatherback season is almost over in early June.
26 The breakdown of activities per sea turtle species is as follows: The figures above, except for the Leatherbacks translate into a significant increase compared to the previous season. In 2011 leatherbacks had 1 activity, greens had 7 and Hawksbills 12 activities only The different types of activity by species are:
27 Zeelandia beach is a stretch of 1.4 kilometers. Some areas are very narrow stretches of sand. For each stretch, the distribution of activities is shown in the graph below. The grouped numbers on the x axis signify the ear lier described numbered beach stakes that are used for triangulation. There is a definite pattern of activity by species on Zeelandia. Leatherbacks tend to nest in the open area from stakes 3 to 15. This tendency is recorded annually. From the graph it i s obvious that this year the majority of the Green turtle activity was concentrated around the area from stake #28 to stake #30. Because of the volume of nests in that area nesting females kept digging up previously laid eggs. A close second was the first stretch of beach past the open area from stake #16 to stake #24 that saw 29 activities. Turtle beach saw a rise in Green turtle activity this year as well with 17 activities being recorded on that small stretch of beach. Hawksbills tended to favor the are a at the Southern most tip of Zeelandia, just before Turtle beach with a recording of 11 activities in the stretch from stake #52 to stake #62.
Main a ctivity distribution on Zeelandia Beach. #37 #44 #1 #9 #10 #15 #31 #37 #25 #30 #16 #24 #45 #51 #52 #62 #63 #70 Leatherbacks Greens Hawksbills
N ightly Beach Patrols N ightly 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 nightly patrols at these other locations. Each patrol consisted of a minimum of two people; including t he 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. 4 km when Turtle Beach was included). Ho urly patrols were conducted between 9.00pm 3.30am. The primary objective of the beach patrols was to encounter as many nesting turtles as possible. Apply flipper and/or internal tags as appropriate, collect carapace measurements, mark the location of th e nest for inclusion 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 con siderations : Observer Name of observer recording data. Date Patrols span two dates but to avoid confusion the first 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 whether there is a relationship between moon phase and nesting emergence. Species If the turtle is not observed the species is determined from the track, where possible. Tag information Any tags already present are recorded new tags placed are also recorded on the sheet Activity At the moment the turtle is first encountered. Classed as emerging, searching, body pitting, digging egg chamber, laying, covering, disguising, gone (used i f turtle has returned to the sea). Carapace Length Measured from the notch to the tip of the carapace. Carapace Width Measured at the widest point of the carapace. 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 location indicated on a diagram on the data collection sheet. Notes Any additional pertinen t information about the turtle or their behavior Track width This is only recorded if the turtle is not observed during the patrol. Measured as the straight line distance between the outer flipper edge mark s; taken to the nearest millimet e r. For each track the width is measured at three random locations and the average used in analyses. Nest depth measured as a straight line distance from the peduncle or cloacae (if turtle is present ) to the bottom of the nest.
30 GPS location Measured either at the c entre of the nest 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 measurement s to two landmarks Straight line distance to the two nearest numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimet e r. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. When possible these measurements are made while the turtle is depositing eggs so 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 centimet e r. Measured either from the centre of th e 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 more than one attempt at nes ting 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 turtle laid but no eggs were seen), false crawl (when some disturbed sand observed) or tr ack only (no nesting activity at all, no disturbed sand). Relocation data If the nest is laid in an unsuitable location which is prone to erosion or flooding the eggs are relocated to a more secure 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 chamber. o Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight line distance to the two numbered stakes closest to the new nest location; taken from the centre of the new egg c hamber. o Distance to vegetation Taken from the centre of the new egg chamber. o Distance to high tide line Taken from the centre of the new egg chamber. o The number of eggs The total number of eggs; also recorded separately are the number of yolked an d 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 new egg chamber. All data were collected either while the turtle was laying or immediately afterwards wh en she was covering the nest site. No turtle was touched or approached 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 conducting the morning track survey that data had been collected, preventing data repetition for the same track or nest.
31 Results of 20 1 2 Nightly Beach Patrols : Nightly monitoring of Zeelandia beach began on May 2 nd and ended on October 5 th Patrols were cancelled due to impending bad weather (s torms/hurricanes), lightning strikes in the Zeelandia area and resorting to targeted patrols because of lack of personnel. In all there were only 29 nightly patrols, totaling 148 hours, during the 2012 season mainl y due to lack of personnel and a slow start to the season As can be seen above there were no night patrols in June and July because the volume of nesting females was very low.
32 Compared to 2011 when no turtles were encountered during night pa trols, this season turned out to be much more positive. It is not only beneficial to the program to be able to record and tag female turtles but it is also a good morale booster for the personnel who are on the beach night after night to have the opportuni ty to actually work with the turtles. The lower number of sightings for Hawksbills can be explained by the fact that Hawksbills tend to emerge or nest more at the Southern end of Zeelandia beach where at times during the season the access is cut off by high surge and cliff falls. When the beach past stake #40 is eroded to a narrow strip the night patrol does not go past that point. It would mean walking very close to the cliff which is very dangerous due to frequent cliff falls.
33 Tagging Met hods 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 Centr e Barbados which is affiliated with WIDECAST. All tag applicators a re inspected and cleaned on a routine basis and replaced when they cease to function properly. Standard t agging methods are used, based on protocols of the Turtle Monitoring Program in St Croix, USVI. For leatherbacks, external flipper t ags are appli ed 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 moveme nt (Balaz s G. H, 1999). Tags are applied whil e the turtle is covering her nest immediately after she has finished laying eggs. T his is done so that the turtle is not disturbed prior to laying. Two metal tags are attached to each turtle both leatherbac ks 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 Coordinator and the turtle intern. The 2 Green turtles that nested in 2009 already had flipper tag s. 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. Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tags The program still has PIT tags which were purcha sed with funding from KNAP Fund, MINA. For l eatherbacks 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 Tagging sites for Leatherback Fig ure 5 : Tagging site Hard shells
34 using a hand held scanne r. While the turtle is depositing eggs a s ingle 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 avo id 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 P IT tagged and additionally 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 bee n recorded nesting on the 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 as the reader was malfunctioning at the time. The Green turtl e (WE11 WE7) was recorded on Zeelandia in 2005 Carapace Measurements Standard carapace l ength and width measurements (as of Bolten, 1999) were taken of each nesting turtle enco untered, after she had finished laying and at every encounter thereafter whe n possible Measurements were made using a flexible tape measure; each measurement was taken once, to the nearest millimeter. Leatherback s Curved carapace length (CCL) was measured from the nuchal notch (the anterior edge of the carapace where it meets t he skin) in a straight line to the most posterior tip of the caudal projection When the caudal projection is not symmetrical the measurement is made to the longest point (any such irregularity would be noted on the data collection 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 surface irregularities. Curved carapace width (CCW) is measured at the widest point, but there are no standard features delineating the end points. The tape measure passes over the ridges and does not follow their contours. Hard Shell species For green and hawksbill turtles the c urve d c arapace l ength notch to tip (CCL n t) was measured. It is measured
35 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 ca rapace w idth (CCW) is measured in a straight line between the widest point s of the carapace, there are no anatomical features marking the end points. Nest Survival and Hatching Success All nests recorded were included in a study on nest survival and hatching suc cess. Nests were monitored during the daily morning track surveys Close to the predicted hatching dates ( a pprox. 5 5 days) the triangulation data were used to mark the site of the egg chamber; to prevent the surveyor having to re measure the nest each day 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 nes t was excavated within 48 hours; if no signs of hatching were recorded the nest was excavated after at least 70 days from the date the eggs were deposited All excavations were conducted by the Pro gram 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 had not been observed the triangulation data were used to locat e the egg chamber Usi ng gloves, the nest contents were carefully removed from the egg chamber and inventoried. The following data were recorded for each excavated nest : Nest code Each nest was given a unique identification number. Observers Names of people present during excavation. Date The date the nest was laid; when hatching was observed and the date the excavation was conducted. Number of empty shells Only shells corresponding to more than 50% of the egg were counted; representing the number of hatched eggs. Num ber of hatchlings Any hatchlings found in the egg chamber were recorded; dead or alive. Number of un hatched eggs Eggs were opened to search for the p resence of embryos and categoriz ed as: o No embryo No obvious embryo present. o Embryo Embryo present; includes all stages of development. o Full embryo Embryo in final stages of development and ready to hatch. Number of pipped eggs Eggs where hatchling had broken the egg shell but failed to hatch; characteri z ed by triangular hole in the shell. Whether hatchling was alive or dead was also recorded. Number of predated eggs If possible the type of preda tor was noted; often characteriz ed by a circular hole in the shell.
36 Number of deformed embryos Any deformities were recorded such as missing flippers, a dditional scutes on carapace, albinism or the presence of multiple embryos in a single egg Number of yolkless eggs Small, yolkless eggs were counted separately. Notes Any additional pertinent information was recorded. Depth of nest To the top of the egg chamber (first egg encountered) and the bottom of the egg chamber (after final egg removed); measure to nearest centimet e r. 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 6 : Example of the nest excavation data sheet used. Figure 7 : Data sheet used for recording nest excavation information
37 LEATHERBACK SUMMARY Nest Survival and Hatching Success 201 2 leatherback numbers were very low as in the previous 2 years therefore they are only included here to give an overview of the activities and dates. There were only 4 recorded leatherback activities in 2012. One ( 1 ) Probable lay and t hree (3 ) confirmed L ays. One leatherback was encountered at the start of the patrol on the 2 nd of May. As she had not been previously tagged, she was fitted with t ag numbers WC254 and WC301. No PIT tag was inserted. She had a CCL of 145.5 and a CCW of 121.5. Nest Code Date Encountered? Track width Measurements DC1200 June 17 2012 Unseen ----------DC1201 April 24 2012 Unseen 219.00 cm 223 231 204 DC120 2 May 02 2012 WC254/301 (new) 168.50 cm 171 162.5 172 DC1203? May 12 2012 Unseen 190.00 cm 198 182 192 The track widths suggest at least 3 different females visited Zeelandia during this season. Nest DC1201 was recorded as a Probable lay as it could not be confirmed at the time. This was later changed to a Lay when two hatchlings were found dead on the surface. As is usual the leatherback hatching success was abysmal at just 4% DC120 0 was found due to a dog having dug up two dead hatchlings just sou th of Turtle Beach. The egg chamber could not be located so the fate of the remaining eggs is unknown. DC1201 was excavated and of the 141 eggs laid, there were 9 shells, 2 dead hatchlings, 1 embryo, 72 full embryos, 16 predated, 43 yolkless. 60 of the eg gs showed signs of bacterial infection. DC1202, laid by female WC254/301, contained 121 eggs with the following: 2 shells, 8 eggs no embryo, 6 eggs with embryo, 56 full embryos, 5 pipped dead, 1 deformed, 43 yolkless, 16 infected and 9 partially cooked. Th ere w as 1 clear hatchling track emerging from the nest but unfortunately it was intercepted by Night Heron tracks and came to an abrupt end. On the 9 th of July, a leatherback hatchling was f ound u pside down on top of the same nest. It w as very unresponsive so was placed in a bucket and t aken back to the office to re hydrate An attempt was made to release it at Lynch Beach with the Summer club children th at same afternoon but it would not swim so was brought back to the office. It was f ound dead in the buck et the next morning. The hatchling is preserved in the meeting room for education purposes. Dead Leatherback hatchlings
38 The egg chamber of nest DC1203? was never located. The question mark (?) behind the nest code means that the nest was never confirmed making it a Probable Lay. O n May 23, 2012, the program received an email from Dr. Julia Horrocks, who is the Director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project and Coordinator of the WIDECAST Marine Turtle Tagging Centre which archives data for over 20 sea turtle projects in the Wider Cari bbean region. Dr. Horrocks reported that a Leatherback with tag numbers WC348/WC349 had been seen nesting on a beach in Panama. She had a CCL of 151cm and a CCW of 114cm. Because those tag numbers belong to the Statia series we were contacted with the repo rt of her nesting and for more information. Although the earlier data is a bit confusing, t hat Leatherback was first recorded on St. Eustatius in 200 2. There is nothing in the database or on hard copy to suggest this except a note made on a 2004 datashee t that says she was tagged in 2002. This means she has been on Statia at least 3 times that we know of. PIT number 133713290A was applied in 2004, this is how we know it is the same turtle as she was original ly tagged with different Monel t ags than she is wearing today. Very puzzling is that on a 2008 data sheet (3 rd encounter) is written that she is a new 2 nd June 22:00 133713290A. Flipper tag WE18 rear right in 2004 Table 1 Information on Leatherback nests Nest Code Hatchlings Shells Total eggs Nest Fate DC1200 2 dead Unknown Unknown Nest not found, only dug up hatchlings DC1201 2 dead 9 141 Majority of un hatched full embryos, just under half of the total infected DC1202 1 alive, 1 predated 2 121 Majority of un hatched full embryos DC1203? Unknown Unknown Unknown No tracks, no egg chamber found
39 GREEN TURTLE SUMMARY Nest Survival and Hatching Suc cess All 4 5 confirmed green turtle nests are included in the nest survi val and hatching success study. 30 probable nests were unconfirmed and therefore not included. T here were 4 3 dry runs recorded and 33 track only sightings. This brought the total of CM activities to 151 for the 201 2 season. After a very slow start to the season things picked up in August with an increase in Green activities. On some nights in August and September there would be 5 or 6 activities. On the 12 th of September there were as much as 12 recorded activities. As stated previously the program intern departed in that very week and the rest of the patrols were covered by the program coordinator and 2 members of the public. There were also no volunteers available and the fact of having only one truck available did not help matters. Due to this lack of personnel, the program went back to targeting females and had to reduce the amount of night patrols. This is reflected in the night patrol summary graph (p.31) where it is shown tha t the August total patrol effort is over 70 hours whereas the effort put in for the month of September is reduced to half that amount even though the number of activities had increased.
40 Because of the widely distributed activities of the Green t urtle, once the hard shell season starts which is usually 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 seas on is very taxing for the night patrol. For that reason the program focuses mostly on targeting of leatherbacks at the beginning of the season, in order to conserve manpower and prevent burnout before the nesting season ends. Looking at the distribution g raph above, it is fortunate that the Greens did not deposit any nests between stakes #31 to #36 as this area is regularly washed away by tidal surges. It is one of the most constantly changing areas of the beach. In the space of a few weeks, the water can be either up to the cliff or it could have deposited a 30 meter wide stretch of sand. This stretch also experiences constant cliff falls. Some of the
41 largest cliff falls on Zeelandia occur on this stretch of beach. The table below provide s a summary of the nest survival data obtained from each excavated green turtle nest of 20 1 2 ; the 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 Zeela ndia beach. Table 2 Green Turtle nest fate information Nest Code Turtle ID Date Result Nest Fate Incubation Days CM1201R Unknown Lay Hatched 86 CM1202 Unknown Lay Hatched 65 CM1203 Unknown Lay Hatched 49 CM1210 Unknown Lay Hatched 52 CM1212 Unknown Lay Hatched 43 CM1213 Unknown Lay Hatched 66 CM1219 WE24/25 Lay Unknown n/a CM1223? WC265/256 Probable Unknown n/a CM1225 Unknown Aug 1 Lay Waterlogged n/a CM1226 Unknown Lay Infected n/a CM1227 WC259/260 Lay Hatched 58 CM1228? Unknown Probable Unknown n/a CM1229 Unknown Lay Washed away n/a CM1230? Unknown Probable Unkn own n/a CM1231? Unknown Probable Unknown n/a CM1234 Unknown Lay Hatched n/a CM1237 Unknown Lay Hatched 48 CM1240 Unknown Lay Waterlogged n/a CM1241 Unknown Lay Hatched 45 CM1242 Unknown Aug Lay Hatched 58 CM1243A? Unknown Probable Hatched n/a CM1248 WE24/25 Lay Hatched 44 CM1249 Unknown Lay Hatched 71 CM1250? Unknown Probable Unknown n/a CM1258 Unknown Lay Hatched 57 CM 1260? Unknown Probable Hatched n/a CM1262 Unknown Lay Hatched 60+ CM1263? Unknown Probable Unhatched n/a CM1265? WE24/25 Probable Unknown n/a CM1267 Unknown Lay Hatched 51 CM1268 Unknown Sep Lay Hatched 54 CM1272 Unknown Lay Hatched 49 CM1273 Unknown Lay Hatched 55 CM1276 Unknown Lay Hatched 51 CM1277 WC266 tag new but lost Lay Hatched 50 CM1282? WC259/260 Probable Un known n/a CM1284 Unknown Lay Washed Away n/a Stake #31 36 area. Saturated sand as waves are coming up to the cliff and a cliff fall in the background
42 CM1285 Unknown Lay Washed Away Unknown CM12104? Unknown Probable Unknown n/a CM12106R Unknown Lay Hatched 67 CM12108 Unknown Lay Hatched Foun d then Lost CM12110 Unknown Lay CM12111 WE13/WE64 Lay CM12113 Unknown Lay CM12114 Unknown Lay Partially excavated, some eggs lost CM12115? Unknown Sept 17 Probable Unknown CM12116? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12117? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12118? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12119? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12120 Unknown Lay Hatched 60 CM12121? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12122? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12124 Unknown Lay CM12125? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12126AR Unknown Lay Hatched 56 CM12127? Unknown Oct 6 Probable Unknown CM12128 Unknown Oct 14 12 Lay Hatched 67 CM12129R Unknown Oct 19 12 Lay Hatched 64 CM12135 Unknown Lay Unhatched CM12136? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12137? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12138? Un known Probable Unknown CM12139? Unknown Probable Unknown CM12140R Unknown Lay Hatched 57 CMUN1201 Unknown Sept 29 12 Lay Hatched Unknown CMUN1202 Unknown Sept 29 12 Lay Hatched CMUN1203 Unknown Nov 14 12 L ay Hatched CMUN1204 Unknown Nov 03 12 Lay Hatched 57 CM 12 1 26AR and CM12126 almost share the same nest code because the two nests inadvertently got the same number To avoid the confusion w hich results from giving a nest a higher number than nests depos ited after it, it would instead get a letter after the nest code. The survival rate of nests for green turtles was encouraging As can be seen in the summary above only 12 of the 47 nests were unsuccessful. Nests 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 det ermined from the 2 7 nests that hatched with known incubation days to be 54.8 days Species Mean depth to bottom/cm Mean # eggs / nest Mean % hatching Mean % emergence Mean days Incubation CM 68 10 2 5 7 4 % 71.4 % 54.8
43 Below is a summary of nest content data obtained from excavated green turtle nest s of 20 1 2 All the nests listed were located on Zeelandia beach. Table 3 Green turtle nests excavation results Nest Code Laid Excavated Alive Dead Shells No Embryo Embryo Full Embryo CM1201R 13 2 28 0 13 13 CM1202 0 1 114 0 10 1 CM1203 51 6 93 1 10 0 CM1210 4 3 76 0 10 1 CM1212 14 9 85 0 1 0 CM1213 12 2 0 18 0 98 8 CM1219 ----------------------CM1225 Unhatched ------CM1226 0 0 0 0 125 0 CM1227 1 0 104 1 10 10 CM1229 Washed away ------CM1234 0 3 30 34 33 26 CM1237 1 2 95 0 6 10 CM1240 Waterlogged ------CM1241 5 0 106 0 10 5 CM1242 11 3 30 0 14 64 CM1248 Oct 17 41 57 109 0 3 1 CM1249 0 1 140 0 1 4 CM1258 1 0 93 0 6 6 CM1262 0 1 25 0 11 2 CM1267 12 11 128 1 6 5 CM1268 2 1 124 0 2 0 CM1272 Se 3 0 50 0 12 22 CM1273 0 1 15 0 93 16 CM1276 6 0 72 0 10 25 CM1277 0 0 62 0 15 10 CM1284 Washed away ------CM1285 -------------------CM12106R 49 1 56 0 3 14 CM12108 ----------------------CM12110 Cant relocate ------CM12111 Cant relocate ------CM12113 Ca nt relocate ------CM12114 Part excavated ------CM12120 0 0 76 0 0 0 CM12124 Cant relocate ------CM12126AR 3 1 89 0 31 3 CM12128 12 0 2 86 0 1 0 CM12129R 43 5 58 0 14 5 CM12135 0 0 0 0 109 0 CM12140R 8 0 71 0 16 1 CMUN1201 Unknown Sept 29 12 0 0 92 0 7 0
44 CMUN1202 Unknown Sept 29 12 0 0 68 0 43 0 CMUN 1203 Unknown Nov 14 12 0 0 0 0 0 19 CMUN1204 Unknown 3 1 57 0 8 28 There were again yolkless eggs encountered during Green nest excavations in 201 2 Relocated Green nests in 2012 Th ere were 5 Green turtle nests relocated in 20 12. The results of the relocations are compiled in the table below. The circumstances surrounding the relocations are explained individually. Table 4 Relocated Green Turtle nests information Nest Code Date Laid Relocation Date Inc ubation days when relocated Total days incubation Hatching success CM1201R May 29 July 04 36 52 46% CM12106R Sept 22 Oct 27 35 67 63% CM12126AR Oct 05 Nov 03 29 56 69% CM12129R Oct 19 Nov 03 15 64 50% CM12140R Nov 07 Nov 15 08 57 77% The green nest CM1201R was found half exposed by the high tide on the morning patrol of the 4th of July. The nest was moved 360 meters to the North in a wider area of sand. The total egg count was 76 and it is probable that some of the eggs had already wa shed into the sea. The nest CM12106R was close to the city dump area and when laid it was about 1 0 meters from the shoreline on an elevated stretch of sand. Over the weeks the sand ridge kept being eroded until the nest was only a few centimeters from the edge. The lint was found to be exposed during a morning walk and the nest was subsequently relocated 40 meters to the southwest. This nest was partially excavated for the public on the 15 th of November and completed on the 25 th of November. CM12126AR an d CM12129R were laid very close to each other just at the beginning of Turtle Beach. A sudden heavy surge on the morning of November 3 rd caused the nests to become exposed and eggs from both nests were swept into the sea. The relocation was very unconventi onal to say the least as there was no time to accurately measure the new egg chambers or to count the eggs. Both nests had to be excavated at the same time and
45 in a hurry as the sea was encroaching more and more and the sand was collapsing in front of the researchers as they were working. Nest CM12140R was relocated as it was on the southern corner of Zeelandia Beach very close to the waterline on a slight elevation but the surge was slowly eroding the sand from under it. Re migrant Green turtles in 2012 There were two re migrant Green Turtle s for the 2012 season that the program is aware of. th season since the program began in 2002 Her history with the progr am is detailed below : Table 5 Re migrant Green turtle "Track" information Date visited Carapace length Carapace width Nests laid Notes Aug 07 2002 Unknown Unknown Unknown First Tagged Aug 03 2005 111.95 m 106 m 2 recorded Sig hted 3 times Nests CM12126AR and CM12129 lints are exposed on the way up the beach but no eggs as yet exposed and sea is somewhat calm and away f rom sand. Situation during the excavations, 40 minutes later. Sea is full of debris and swirling around ankles, sand is collapsing at a very fast rate and some eggs have already fallen in to the sea.
46 July 30 2007 113 m 106 m 2 recorded Sighted 6 times, Satellite transmitter attached Sept 1 st Aug 15 2010 114 m 110 m 2 recorded Sighted 2 times Aug 06 2012 114.5 m 109.6 m 1 recorded, 3 sightings Placed a G5 logger for inter nesting study As In 2007 thanks to her satellite transmitter we found that she departed for the north after the nesting season and ended up for a while in the British Virgin Islands then w ent to the east coast of the D ominican R epublic where she stayed until her transmitter failed. There we believe she had arrived at her foraging grounds. Another satellite transmitter attached could lend weight to the assumption that this is her regular pat tern. The other returning Green was female WE13. This is her third known season on the island. She was found digging her egg chamber during night patrol on September 24 th There was only one tag (WE13) that the researchers could discern and that was on he r left flipper. The old data sheets are confusing but she was found digging her egg chamber on August 8 th 2009 and at that time she also only had tag WE13 on her left flipper. She had received only the one tag in 2004 That night in 2009, tag WC303 was p laced on her right flipper. A few weeks later the new tag was missing and there was no opportunity to replace it In 2012, she received a new tag WE64 also on her left flipper as she was so close to the cliff that the researchers could not maneuver to work on the right side. It is acceptable WIDECAST protocol to put two flipper tags on one flipper if there is no choice. As long as there are two tags on the turtle so that she can still be identified in the event that one goes missing. The history of WE13/ WE64 with the program is as follows: Table 6 Re migrant Green turtle WE13/64 information Date visited Carapace length Carapace width Nests laid Notes Jul 31 2004 1.36m (?!) 1.10m (?!) 1 Tagged new left WE13 Aug 08 2009 1.12 m 1.06 m 1 Tagged new right WC303 Tag came off in 3 weeks Sept 24 2012 1.14m 1.05m 1 Two tags on left flipper now
47 Of note is that t he nest coded CM1242 contained hatchlings that had small tumors on their flesh. All of the 11 hatchlings found alive in the nest exhibited the same thing. The nest was laid near the end of August at the northern end of Zeelandia beach. Only 25% percent of the nest hatched. This has not been seen before and there is no note of such a skin condition in the past files Green turtle hatchling exhibiting skin probl ems
48 HAWKSBILL SUMMARY Nest Survival and Hatching Success 1 6 Hawksbill nests were confirmed in 2012 9 and there were 7 An additional 2 3 nests were probable lays and the eggs were never found. This brings the total number of activities for Hawksbills in 2012 to 5 5 It is very rare that a hawksbill is seen nesting during night patrols and this year was no exception. The 55 hawksbill activities recorded were all rec orded on morning or afternoon patrol except for one. A single female was encountered on the beach at night and that was an accidental encounter The female in question came up j ust after midnight on Christmas day, left the beach, crossed the Oranjebaai ro ad and attempted to nest in the grass under the cliffs. Because it was in December and the season was technically over, the Program Coordinator was on St. Maarten at the time of this encounter. The police informed the Coordinator via telephone and the co ordinator in turn directed one volunteers on Statia to check out the situation. Unfortunately, the turtle bag was locked in the office so no measurements were taken. Due to the excitement of the small crowd that was gathered, only two photos were taken. It is unfortunate that this turtle could not be tagged but still these two photos will allow a visual identification if the female is seen again. Ch ristmas night Hawksbill crawling in the grass on the cliff side of the Bay road
49 Coincidentally, the only other nesting Hawksbill encountered in the 2012 sea son was also on Oranjebaai and the sighting occurred in broad daylight on a Saturday morning, September 15 th At about 7:15am, as the program coordinator (PC) and the volunteer were heading to Zeelandia to do nest maintenance, a call came in from the dive shop their shop. On arrival at the beach, there was a Hawksbill in the process of depositing her eggs. There were approximately 30 persons witnessing this event, a few o f which were locals. The female had not been tagged before so tags were applied by the PC. WE61 on the left front flipper and WE54 on the right. Her measurements were CCL 91.5cm and CCW 78.8cm. She proceeded to finish laying, covered, and headed straight back to sea undaunted by the crowd that was witnessing her movements. Daylight turtle laying eggs on Oranjebaai Daylight turtle returning to sea after successful nesting
50 The Hawksbill activity tends to pick up in July and they seem to come as late as December, long after the Greens have stopped nesting. They also tend to favor the southern end of Zeelandia beach which is not easy to patrol at night due to eroded sand and potential cliff falls.
51 The tables below provide a summary of the nest survival data obtained from each excavated Hawksbill turtle nest of 20 12 ; the table details nest code, turtle identification number, fate of the nest and incubation period in days (if known). The confirmed nests were located on various beaches around the island as the Hawksbills do not shy away from rocky beaches Table 7 Hawksbill nest results 2012 Nest Code Turtle ID Date Location Nest Fate Incubation EI1202R Unknown Zeelandia Hatched 50 EI1203 Unknown Turtle Beach Washed Away Unknown EI1204 Unknown Zeelandia Destro yed by Green and Tropical storm Isaac n/a EI1208 Unknown Compagnie Hatched Unknown EI1211 Unknown Turtle Beach Washed away Unknown EI1212 Unknown Zeelandia Hatched 50 EI1221 Unknown Crooks Castle Hatched Unknown EI1222 Unknown Compagnie Hatched Approx 87 EI1235 WE61/WE54 Oranjebaai Hatched 56 EI1236 Unknown Zeelandia Hatched 65 EI1238 Unknown Zeelandia Destroyed by another EI n/a EI1240 Unknown Compagnie Hatched 47 EI1246A Unknown Zeelandia Unhatched n/a EIUN1201 Unknown Unknown Crooks Castle Hatched Unknown EIUN1202 Unknown Unknown Zeelandia Destroyed by CM Unknown EIUN1203 Unknown Unknown Compagnie Hatched Unknown
52 Below is a summary of nest content data obtained from excavated hawksbill turtle nest s of 20 1 2 Table 8 Summary of Hawksbill nest excavation data Nest Code Date Laid Excavated Alive Dead Shells No embryo Embryo Full embryo EI1202R 2 1 43 0 45 0 EI1203 Washed away ------EI1204 0 0 8 0 0 1 EI1208 0 0 61 0 2 10 EI1211 Washed away ------EI1212 Sep 2 1 10 105 0 21 1 EI1221 0 0 153 0 8 1 EI1222 0 0 126 0 2 2 EI1235 1 0 87 0 24 6 EI1236 0 3 98 0 13 2 EI1238 Destroyed ------EI1240 Sep 2 0 1 5 0 3 7 EI1246A 0 0 0 2 46 12 EIUN1201 Unknown 0 0 113 0 0 0 EIUN1202 Unknown 0 0 0 0 4 5 EIUN1203 Unknown 0 0 17 0 0 0 Species Mean depth to bottom/cm Mean # eggs / nest Mean % hatching Mean % emergence Hawksbill 47.42cm 88 (skewed) 74.1 72.54
53 INFECTED AND (PARTIALLY) COOKED EGGS Since 2009 when a number of nest s were found to contain infected eggs the program has been properly document ing the occurrence of infected and (partially) cooked eggs throughout the entire season. Since we have been paying attention it can be quickly noted if there i s a n increase or decrease in the amount of infected eggs seen and also of partially cooked or cooked egg s. T he program will continue to record this data 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 mitigating measures can be taken to address the problem. The summary below contains a breakdown of infected and (partially) cooked eggs from the nests excavated during the 201 2 season and a breakdown by species. The figures for the 2010 season are shown for comparison. There was such a low volume of nests in 2011 that the figures for that year cannot form a true comparison. 2010 Mean percentage of infected CM eggs 20% 201 2 7.56% 2010 Mean percentage of cooked CM eggs 20% 2012 12.75% 2010 Mean percentage of infected EI eggs 17% 2012 6.9% 2010 Mean percentage of cooked EI eggs 19% 2012 9% While there is very little data recorded in the past, the percentages ar e still a little high for the low nesting population that we have locally. Some research has gone into determining why this happens as well as tryi ng to determine if this occurs only in particular areas. In the following chapter on research in the turtle p rogram more information is given on what the program is trying to do to solve these problems. Total amount of hatchlings survived in 2010: 2012 Leatherback 0 7 Green 1850 2074 Hawksbill 962 8 16 Unknown 61 0
54 RESEARCH WORK IN THE 2012 NESTING SEA SON In water monitoring of resident and visiting turtles The Programme is working with Nicole Esteban and Professor Graeme Hays from Swansea University to understand more about the behavior of turtles resident and visiting the Marine Park. Data loggers can be attached to turtles to learn about patterns of behavior and understand more about the turtles resident in, and visiting Statia National Marine Park. G5 data loggers record temperature and pressure (depth) over time and were attach ed to Green Turtles ( Chelonias mydas ) and Hawksbill Turtles ( Eretmochelys imbricata ) to learn about behavior in: 1. Nesting (female) Green Turtles on Zeelandia Beach G5 data loggers were attached to the flipper tag located on the trailing edge of the front flipper of four female Green Turtles to learn about patterns of behaviour during inter nesting periods, in particular diving depth, feeding patterns, resting periods. On each occasion, the data logger was attached by Jessica Berkel to the stationary front flipper during nest covering after eggs had been deposited. It was hoped that data loggers would be recovered during the subsequent nesting event or as soon as the turtle was sighted on the beach again. Patrols on Zeelandia Beach encountered two of the Gre en Turtles returning to nest and removed the data logger from each turtle. A third data logger came loose from the turtle and was found in the surf zone of the beach. The fourth data logger was not recovered. The G5 data loggers have been returned to Swans ea University for analysis which is currently underway and already revealing interesting information such as long dives to very shallow depths at nighttime. 2. Resting (male) Hawksbills at Chien Tong wreck site G5 data loggers were attached to the rear flip per of six male Hawksbill Turtles resting at Chien Tong wreck using Velcro tag collars, and secured with cable ties. Loggers were attached by Nicole Esteban during night dives from 7 8pm to the wreck on 24 and 25 March 2012. Loggers were programmed to mea sure parameters every 5 seconds (depth) and every 30 minutes (temperature) from 24 March 10 April 2012. After one week, night dives on three consecutive nights were carried out to recover data loggers but without success. Carapace measurements of all turtl es encountered on the 2 nd and 3 rd nights revealed that different turtles visited the site to rest each night. This would indicate that the previous hypothesis that turtles returned to the same site each night to rest, survey (including sexing and measuring the carapace of each individual) is now planned for consecutive nights at Chien Tong wreck pre nesting season and post nesting season to learn more about the population of resident turtles in the area.
55 Temperature monitoring of Green turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) nests, Zeelandia Beach Work with Nicole Esteban and Professor Graeme Hays from Swansea University continued in 2012 to understand more about factors affecting turtle hatching success in Statia. The annual hatch ing success rate of turtle nests laid on Zeelandia Beach has been extremely variable since turtle monitoring commenced in 2002. For example, of the 12 Green Turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) nests monitored for hatching success in 2006, the average hatching rate wa s 51% (46.4% emergence), with variability from 1.4% hatching rate (0.0% emergence) through to 92% hatching rate (80.4% emergence). Factors affecting hatching success include natural predation, anthropogenic disturbance of nests, inundation by water and ext reme temperatures. Preliminary results from monitoring in 2011 showed that nest temperatures reached 34.5C on both Zeelandia and Turtle beaches in the month of September. Maximum temperatures do not dip below 29C until late November or early December. A s would be expected, temperatures fluctuate considerably on a diurnal and seasonal basis, reaching a peak in August and September and a minimum in January at the end of the survey period. There were a number of unexplained spikes whereby the temperature dr opped by up to 5C (both on Zeelandia Beach and on Turtle Beach), either in a matter of an hour or over a period of several days. The sex of sea turtles is determined by temperature in the middle third of incubation with female offspring produced at highe r temperatures and males at lower temperatures within a thermal tolerance range of 25 35C (Ackerman, 1997). For all species and populations so far examined, the pivotal temperature marking the switch from predominantly male to predominantly female offspri ng has been close to 29C (Ackerman, 1997). Results from the short survey period in 2011 suggested that turtle hatchlings on Zeelandia and Turtle Beach would therefore be predominantly female. Additionally, nests on both beaches were at the upper level of thermal tolerance in August and September 2011. In order to gain a fuller understanding of implications of sand temperature, the survey period was extended in 2012 to a full 12 month period, from February 2012 to February 2013. Ten calibrated temperature data loggers (TDL) were buried in order to assess the sand temperature variation throughout pre post and nesting (and incubation) season in 2012/13. The ten TDLs were buried on 17 February 2012, which is prior to previous start dates for nesting of D. c oriacea in St Eustatius (STENAPA dataset 2005 2010). The TDLs were pre tested and programmed at Swansea University to measure temperature every hour (local time) from the 1 February 2012 for 12 months or the end of the 2012 nesting incubation period (which ever is sooner). Four TDLs were buried at 44.6cm depth, which is midpoint between the mean nest depths for C. mydas and E imbricata (Table 1). Four TDLs were buried at 63.3cm, the mean nest depth for D. coriacea at four control locations along the nesti ng beach to gain an understanding of how temperature varies throughout the season in different positions. Two control locations will be at the upper nesting limit in Turtle Beach (steep beach profile) and two control locations will be at the upper nesting limit in Zeelandia Beach one on Zeelandia Beach and one on Turtle Beach. The depths of these TDLs varied from 10cm 10 0cm depth based on historical nesting data. They wer e buried in different locations on each beach (close to the high water line) and at a variety of depths to gain an
56 understanding of how temperature changes with depth during the year. These two ecutive days before being moved to a new location. Data were downloaded from these TDLs upon each relocation. All ten TDLs were recovered on or close to 1 March 2013 after a full 12 month period. The TDLs have been returned to Swansea University and analys is is underway. The results and conclusions will hopefully assist the Marine Park with a more focussed strategy towards nest relocation to increase future hatching success. Comparison with weather records from the airport will enable long term predictions. References Ackerman RA (1997) The nest environment and embryonic development of sea turtles. In: The Biology of Sea Turtles (eds Lutz PL, Musick JA), pp. 83 106. CRC Press, Boca Raton. Herrera A and Harrison E (2007) St Eustatius sea turtle conservation p rogramme: Annual Report 2006. STENAPA, 2007. www.statiapark org. Shading Experiment Zeelandia Beach Because of the high incidence of cooked eggs present in excavated nests on Zeelandia Beach, a project was established in collaboration with the IMARES i nstitute in Wageningen in the Netherlands. A PHD student Ms. Selma Ubels came to the island to conduct experiments to find the best method to cool the nests and prevent embryonic death from too high temperatures. There were 3 types of material used in a very precise experiment a white sheet, white sand and palm leaves. Preliminarily the palm leaves seemed to work best with a temperature drop of up to 1 o at 44 cm depth and 0.6 o at 63 cm depth. This does not seem like much but this was only after 3 days. It is probably even more when applied longer. And also 1 o can already make quite a difference. The temperatures at Zeelandia are for the greater part of the season above the pivotal temperature of 29.4 degrees. When temperatures can be reduced by 1 o it c an already help a lot. The report should be available for general publication within short. Monitoring the foraging sea turtle population in 2012 As part of the monitoring of the foraging sea turtle population dive shops and MP staff were required to record all in water sightings in 2012 A total of 468 turtles were sighted all of which were Greens and Hawksbills. The sightings by species were almost equal with 235 Hawksbill s recorded and 233 Greens. T he size sighted most often was those turtles rang ing from 10 50 cm. There were more juvenile Green turtles sighted than Hawksbills. 202 Greens in the 10 50cm category compared to 124 Hawksbills in that same size group. The Hawksbills tended to be larger with 94 individuals in the 50 100cm category and 17 individuals in the 100cm and above category compared to 29 Greens recorded in the 50 100cm category and only 2 individuals in the 100cm and above group.
57 The majority of the sightings, 385, were female sea turtles which are visually determined by the le ngth of the tail. For both species the environment they were most sighted in was on the wrecks in the Marine Park with sightings on the reefs coming in second. The sightings were higher in the early part of the year and tended to start dropping off after July. A structured foraging sea turtle aggregation assessment was done in 2008 and repeated in 2011. Another is planned for 201 4 Reports are available on those surveys.
58 TU RTLE STRANDINGS There w as 1 turtle stranding in 2012 In the beginning of August d uring a morning track survey, the program coordinator noticed a hawksbill hatchling in the surf. The hatchling did not not appear to be swimming, just floating, and was struggling at times to keep its head above the water. The coordinator fetched the hatc hling out of the surf and placed it on a nearby rock for a while. It seemed to be completely exhausted and was not moving for a long while. Upon examination it also seemed a bit emaciated as it had a sunken look to the plastron. After about a half an hour, it was placed back on the sand and it made its way slowly to the surf where it swam off a bit weakly. It was observed for a while and then left to fend for itself. Notable is that no h awksbill nest was due in the first week of August or none exc avated. This hawksbill hatchling came from a nest unknown to the program. The current on the Atlantic side runs in a Northwesterly direction so it is possible that the nest was laid either on the Southern part of Zeelandia Beach or on a beach in the Southe ast of the island. Hawksbill hatchling resting on rock Hatchling has noticeably sunken plastron
59 Recommendations for the 201 3 nesting season PREPARATIONS & CONSIDERATIONS : Provide adequate training for the turtle program interns and volunteers. Emphasize the need to fill in all data fields on the forms. Regardless of train ing given to program assistants Program Coordinator should be present at initial tagging events. Program coordinator is responsible for excavations and relocations unless confident that assistant can carry them out in their absence. Service the truck th at 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. Check Kay Bay for re staking as well. In addition to replacing and repainting missing stakes, the stake number must be painted on to the cliff face as it is inevitable that stakes will be removed by storm surge. Maintain the signs placed at the entrances to the beach urging dog owners to be vigilant when letting their dogs loose. Warn owners to investigate when their d ogs are digging to avoid damage to nests. Find a more permanent solution to the barrels that block vehicular a ccess to the beach as they corrode very quickly and are displaced during Atlantic storm s 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 violations. COMMUNITY AWARENESS Revitaliz e Summer Club activities as many children are repeat 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. De dicate at least two radio programs to sea turtles if there are no other pressing topics to be discussed. Update and utilize the list of persons wishing to view a nesting turtle, hatchling release or accompany the patrols. Publicize any notable events occur ring during the season in the regional newspaper. Highlight the turtle program on the local television stations along with current footage.
60 ACTIVITIES: Continue with the beach beautification project as planting trees can also help to minimize runoff on the beach. Step up morning patrols on Kay Bay and Lynch beach to at least once a week during Green and Hawksbill season. Continue to lobby the company NuStar Energy NV to reduce the bright lighting on their storage tanks facing the beach. Continue to wo rk on a light pollution solution to the buildings along the cliff. As much as possible try to leave nests in situ. Only in extreme situations should a nest be relocated. Relocation should be done to a site that is at least partially shaded during the day. Discard all remains from excavations into the surf instead 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 applica ble. Continue the use of the bamboo and lint system to easier relocate the nest chamber The use of only the one lint straight down was discontinued in mid season in 2012 Survey Tumble Down Dick beach to the n orth of Smoke Alley As much as possible, e ver y confirmed nest should be excavated and the eggs examined to determine the true fate of the nest. Beach mapping should be carried out as and when it was done in previous years to have a more long term view of sand movement and erosion on Zeelandia beach. Utilize the new and improved data entry f ields on the computer. Nothing has been changed but it has been simplified for easier analysis at the end of the season.
61 Acknowledgements The St. Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Program wishes to recognize the following persons that have contributed and offered support to the 2012 nesting season. The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation programme would not be operational without assistance from WIDECAST, Working Abroad and our international intern and local vo lunteer program. Additionally we would like thank Nustar Energy and the Ministry of EL & I for their support and donations towards the program. Nicole Esteban, former St. Eustatius National Parks director, and Erik Meesters a Marine Ecologist at the Imar es institute in Holland made it possible for the program to delve into new and exciting research and monitoring activities during 2012. They were both also generous enoug h to contribute much needed equipment to the program. The program wish es to recognize a board member of the National Parks Foundation, for her many hours of patrolling and assistance on the nesting beach and Ms. Olga Schats a new volunteer in 2012, who alerted the program to tracks that woul d have remained unknown and who spent many hours of the day and night assisting on Zeelandia Beach. Sher i Wright and Heather Morecroft in Canada and Australia respectively, former invaluable volunteers to the program who continue to keep in touch and sho w an interest in and passion for the work we do here on Statia. Sher i has made material donations to the program as well as donating her precious time when on island which we appreciate. Heather helped out on the beach after work, on weekends, in the pouri ng rain. She became a true member of the team and her input and constant good humor will never be forgotten. We also thank the Director of Working Abroad (UK): Victoria McNeil. For her constant struggle in getting us volunteers in this bad world economy. Keep up the good work. For advice, recommendations and support we wish to specially thank Dr Karen Eckert executive director of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network ( WIDECAST ) For the general public, a special thank you to those who ask questions, show an interest and generally simply have positive things to say about the program. It is very encouraging and is one of the most important aspects of the program, namely public interest and support.