Hello! My name is Ms. Elebash . Please join me as I travel to Costa Rica to study sea turtles!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A chronological attempt of last night's sweep

I got this and the pictures below from the internet.

Above: A picture from an earlier post.
A picture of a nest boiling. They must have been "day babies."

Start here:

Sweep sections:Playa Grande is divided into the northern and the southern end. At the northern end of Playa Grande is Playa Ventanos. Each sweep is about a mile long as best as I can figure. These are the 3 areas that we patrol. Each section has markers along it that are about 50 m apart I think. When a turtle is spotted she is given an approximate location...25.7, for instance. Last night I was on the south patrol which extends from midway of Playa Grande south to the mouth of the estuary of the Tamarindo River. We have to drive a truck to the starting point for the south and north patrolers. That's fun in itself. Only see cats on the road, nothing else of interest.

Note: If you like numbers, walking, turtles, the stars, and have curiosity, then you would like this. I cannot remember all of the numbers that are thrown around. I will do my best.

Last night Michelle, Avalon the researcher, and myself started out at 11pm. It was darker last night than the night before. There was some cloud cover. I thought it was a little muggy. The ocean was calm. The bioluminescence was just incredible! Avalon was a wealth of information. She said it was the algae who were putting on a show. The brilliance of the white just stole your eyes when you looked out. The waves were one long continuous roll...maybe about several hundreds of meters long. The best ocean performance so far.

As best I can figure there are about 6-7-8-9 nests that are due to hatch within a few days on our stretch. They are both olive Ridleys and leatherbacks. At the farthest southern end Avalon checked the nest that we had checked about 8 times the night before. There was one hatchling on his back, not moving. There was another with his head just barely visible in the sand. Avalon flipped the baby over and then it just flipped back. She did this for several times. Either one flipper was stronger than the other or it was our red light. (more on light later), Avalon thought it was our light. We turned them off except when absolutely necessary. The researchers measure the first 20 out of a nest. They measure carapace length and width and the head width. Avalon measure and Michelle recorded. After that, Avalon prodded him very very softly once or twice and we got him moving toward the water. I put out light just in front of him in hopes that he would go toward it. He did. . .After a bit of stopping, starting, flipping, he got going. Next Avalon walked around with her light to count how many tracks she saw leaving the nest. She thought about 10...so 10 hatchlings had already gone.

Next we saw another two heads popping up. Go to the copyrighted URL and see what that looks like.


Avalon measure these when they emerged and Michelle recorded. I can't quite remember the exact scenario. In all we saw 4 emerge and make it toward the water. We did not stay to watch them get there as we had a make another sweep.

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