Turtle season commences
Come September island managers and conservationists all over the Seychelles begin to prepare for the exciting onslaught of the Hawksbill turtle-nesting season. The females start to emerge in September, but nesting begins in earnest in October with a peak throughout November and December. The nesting decreases throughout January and February with the last nest usually recorded early March.
For me, I know the nesting has started in earnest when I start to dream about tracks, turtles and eggs! On Cousin Island we have the highest abundance of nesting Hawksbills in the Western Indian Ocean so when they arrive it is turtle crazy and the team are hard put to keep up.
Our aim is to closely monitor the nesting throughout the season and record each individual turtle emergence. The more turtles we physically see the better because each turtle is tagged providing us with vital information on the nesting behavior and biology of individual females over a long time-period.
Last season 58% of all emergences were intercepted by one of the turtle team, and there were 1416 emergences so this is a lot of patrolling! This year I am aiming to increase this percentage to gain even more accurate data, but this is not easy. I have increased the number of volunteers on the turtle project and will use this increased people-power to station team members around the island throughout the day. This way I hope to reduce the time spent patrolling the entire island but also have more turtle tag data recorded. Also it should be marginally less tiring for the team!
Watch out for further turtle news!
April Burt, Cousin Island Science Officer
All Photos: Maxime Aliaga