Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pacuare Reserve (Leather Back turtle volunteer program)

The Pacuare Reserve is just north of Limón.  The reserve owns 5.7 kilometers of beach. Every night they have people going out at 8pm, 10pm and midnight on turtle patrols. Even when it is very dark you can see the turtle tracks, because when they crawl on the beach, they expose the wet sand. If you find a turtle track, you stop and wait while the group leader goes and sees what it is doing. If it is looking for a place to nest, or digging a body pit, you want to stay away from it because it is very easy to scare it off. When it starts digging its nest, you can come up behind it, but not go in front of it because it still might get scared off. Sometimes the turtles come up and go back to the water without laying eggs. When it is laying its eggs you measure its shell and you can touch it. Each turtle has a tag on its right back flipper, and one on its left back flipper. The tags help them to figure out where the turtle has nested before and also so they can tell the turtles apart when writing down where it nested, how many eggs it layed and how big it was. They usualy lay 70-100 yolked eggs and 20-30 yolkless. They think that the yolkless eggs make the cavity in the nest bigger so there is more air. After it has laid its eggs, it will fill in the nest and start flinging sand around and digging big holes. All of this mess it is making makes it hard for predators to find the nest. Unfortunately, we have to get sticks and flatten out all of the mess it has made so poachers don't see the nest. The poachers drive up and down the beach in boats, and look for the mess the turtle has made. If there is a mess,then they know there is a nest, and they come ashore and dig it up. So if the messes are flattened out, then they don't see them all and don't think it is worth it to come ashore. The beach is divided into sectors. One sector is 100 meters (300 feet). On our first night we saw a turtle in sector one, which is directly in front of the building that we eat in. I got to hold its flipper while it layed eggs. Then we walked up the bech to sector 3, which is 300 meters (980 feet) away. There was another turtle there. After that I went back because it was 11:30 at night. We went with EPI. They have a place on their website where you can look up the turtles you saw. I will put up the information about the turtles I saw in 2-3 months, when they update their website.
EPI website for Costa Rica
The largest Leather Back turtle ever recorded weighed more than 900 kilograms (1980 pounds). It was drowned in a fishing net. A Volkswagen Beetle weighs 952 kilograms (2100 pounds).  A Leather Back turtle can dive to 1600 meters (5250 feet) because its shell is flexible, and compresses. They can stay under water for 6 hours because they can store oxygen in thier muscles, but when they are caught in fishing nets, they panic and use all of their oxygen quickly, and then drown.

A butterfly on the trail between the stations.

The nesting beach.
Making a sign.
They had good sunsets.
This is what the turtle tracks look like.
I dug a hole on the beach.

No comments:

Post a Comment