> Powerboat-World.com
 
 
News Home Video Gallery Newsletters FishingBoating Features Photo Gallery Sail-World Australia Australian Cruising
MarineBusiness-World

 

Sail-World.com : The Search for Nesting Turtles

The Search for Nesting Turtles

'Mon Repos beach at sunset'    BW Media
The wind that is preventing us heading south from Port Bundaberg is beating up the surf on the beach tonight.

It's pitch dark, and we just have to trust that the unseen sand will be flat as we lean, staggering a little, against the wind, clutching our wind jackets around us.

We're here looking for nesting turtles - the Blackwattle crew, friends the de Torres and a group of other fare-paid would-be turtle watchers. After so many cruising years of watching turtles and even sometimes swimming with them, the promise of seeing them come up a beach to nest has been irresistable


We can hardly hear each other for the wild surf, and the Ranger who is leading us has to shout high pitched instructions. Above the night sky is brilliant with stars, small windy clouds rushing low overhead.

''Stay behind me'' she screams,''I am looking either for a turtle or her tracks – they're so wary when coming up the beach – easily disturbed, and will go back to the sea. But they're deaf to the pitch of our voices.'' (Well, I think, they wouldn't be able to hear us over the surf roar tonight anyway.)

We're at Mon Repos Beach (pronounced 'Mon Reepowe' ), and we're sneaking somewhat loudly, straining to see any blob or track against the darkened sand. We've been deprived of our torches and mobile phones, and have no idea where we're headed. We're most likely to see loggerhead turtles, we're told, as this is the busiest breeding beach for loggerheads in the South Pacific. It's early in the season though, so we've also been told not to be very hopeful.

But tonight we are lucky – the ranger sees the tracks first. It's not a loggerhead - she has recognised the tracks of a flatback turtle. ''Stop! Don't move! Wait here!'' she yells. So we wait, windblown, a little clutch of lost tourists, abandoned for a minute in the dark while she surveys the scene, finds the huge turtle, and comes back telling us just where to stand to watch her digging her hole. The turtle can't look backwards, and she can't hear, so we form a little obedient semicircle of watchers behind her, and the Ranger arranges a small LED torch to illuminate the turtles backside. I feel intrusive – I wouldn't want a bunch of tourists watching ME laying my eggs.

Flatback turtle laboriously digging her nest with back flippers -  BW Media  


But of course we watch. The turtle is a enormous, and she laboriously digs with her back flippers only. It's so slow I feel like rushing in to help. After about 20 minutes, she appears to sink gratefully onto the hole and lets go of her eggs. We can see it all so clearly. They seem to come two at a time, soft slippery things, which fall deep into the hole – no they don't break, they are rubbery things, soft, mottled white and slimy.

The most amazing sight of all - eggs dropping into the nest. Turtle’s tail is visible hanging over the nest cavity. -  BW Media  


Once she starts dropping her eggs, Rangers appear out of the dark from everywhere to identify her. They measure her, check her tags – yes she's a tagged one. They can even tell her history. |She's been coming to this beach since 1987 – a very experienced nester. She's 100 kilos in weight, 97cm long – a formidable woman indeed. While laying, she is no longer wary, and oblivious of humans. Photos are now allowed, and torches of the Rangers light the area.

Now flash cameras are allowed - Ranger begins identifying the turtle -  BW Media  


Now she'll crawl back to the water. But there's more. She has reached the grass, which is the signal to start digging. However, on this occasion she hasn't moved far enough up the beach. The eggs in this spot will be subject to high tides destroying them. So the Rangers will relocate the eggs – about 50 of them - to a similar man-made hole higher up the beach. This way 50 more baby turtles will have the chance to reach the ocean, grow to adulthood, and repopulate the ocean's sadly depleted turtle populations.

As we are led back along the black dark beach like children to find to the boardwalk which leads to the Ranger Headquarters, we're delighted to be stopped by two more turtles scrambling in slow motion up the beach. ''It's raining turtles tonight!'' exclaims the pleased Ranger. We must wait each time for the loggerheads – ''They are loggerheads – I can tell by their tracks''- to reach the high parts of the beach before we creep by down at the surf line – leaping out of the way of the more aggressive of the waves – back to the lights of a more familiar evening.

Just another in the long line of marvelous experiences available to the cruising sailor...

...........................................................

About Sea Turtles:

On Mon Repos beach, three types of turtles come to nest – the Loggerhead, which, according to Mon Repos rangers, is ''endangered'', and the Flatback and the Green Turtle, which are listed as ''vulnerable''.

Green turtle swimming -  .. .  


However, all sea turtles share some common features.

First, they have an extraordinary sense of time and location. They are highly sensitive to the Earth's magnetic field and use it to navigate. The longevity of sea turtles has been speculated at 80 years. The fact that most species return to nest at the locations where they were born seems to indicate an imprint of that location's magnetic features.

After about 30 years of maturing, adult female sea turtles return to the land to nest at night, usually on the same beach from which they hatched. This can take place every two to four years in maturity. They make from four to seven nests per nesting season.

All sea turtles generally employ the same methods when making a nest. A mature nesting female hauls herself onto the beach until she finds suitable sand on which to create a nest. Using its hind flippers, the female proceeds to dig a circular hole 40 to 50 centimeters deep. After the hole is dug, the female then starts filling the nest with eggs one by one until it has deposited around 150 to 200 eggs, depending on the turtle's species. The nest is then re-filled with loose sand by the female, re-sculpting and smoothening the sand over the nest until it is relatively undetectable visually. The whole process takes around thirty minutes to a little over an hour. After the nest is laid, the female then returns to the ocean.[4]

Some of the eggs are unfertilized 'dummy eggs' and the rest contain young turtles. Incubation takes about 2 months. The length of incubation and the gender of the hatchling depends on the temperature of the sand. Darker sands maintain higher temperatures, decreasing incubation time and increasing the frequency of female hatchlings. When the eggs hatch, these hatchlings dig their way out and seek the ocean. Only a very small proportion of them (usually .001%) will be successful, as many predators wait to eat the steady stream of new hatched turtles (since many sea turtles lay eggs en masse, the eggs also hatch en masse).

The hatchlings then proceed into the open ocean, borne on oceanic currents that they often have no control over. While in the open ocean, it used to be the case that what happened to sea turtle young during this stage in their lives was unknown. However in 1987, it was discovered that the young of Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta spent a great deal of their pelagic lives in floating sargassum beds - thick mats of unanchored seaweed floating in the middle of the ocean. Within these beds, they found ample shelter and food. In the absence of sargassum beds, turtle young feed in the vicinity of upwelling 'fronts'. In 2007, it was verified that green turtle hatchlings spend the first three to five years of their lives in pelagic waters. Out in the open ocean, pre-juveniles of this particular species were found to feed on zooplankton and smaller nekton before they are recruited into inshore seagrass meadows as obligate herbivores.


Conservation:

Sea turtles used to be hunted on a large scale in the whaling days for their meat, fat and shells. Coastal peoples h




by Nancy Knudsen

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.powerboat-world.com/index.cfm?nid=39094

9:30 AM Thu 15 Nov 2007 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Blackwattle's Journey

Related News Stories:

28 Feb 2008  Waiting for Weather in Sailors' Hell - Blackwattle
24 Dec 2007  End of Long Range Cruising - Blackwattle
05 Dec 2007  Blackwattle- Discovering the Australian East Coast
10 Nov 2007  Blackwattle's First Arrival into Oz
20 Oct 2007  Blackwattle's Final Circumnavigation Leg
12 Oct 2007  Incident in Fiji - Blackwattle
09 Oct 2007  Slightly Sad - Blackwattle's Fiji Visit
28 Sep 2007  Blackwattle - A Weather Window to Fiji
23 Sep 2007  Cruising the Pacific- the Coconut Milk Run
21 Sep 2007  Blackwattle in Vava'u, Tonga
MORE STORIES ...

Power Boat News





UK superyacht industry on the rise by British Marine Federation,












Predictwind helps you pick the best time to depart by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz,






























Understanding the Ocean's role in Greenland Glacier melt by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI),


Dangerous conditions for boating on entire NSW Coast by Transport Roads and Maritme Services,


Revealing report on Search for American yacht Nina released *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,












AYSS PacificNet/Tahiti voted a success! by Asia Pacific Superyachts,




Ferretti Group’s ‘Service University’ for the first time in Asia_Pac
Solar 1 Monte Carlo Cup 2014 - Day 1 + Video
Portland’s new state-of-the-art boat ramp officially opened
2014 Sarasota Grand Prix - 77 Lucas Oil SilverHook got second place
Superboats turn up the heat in the Tropics
Dangerous conditions forecast for NSW boaters
APSNZ appoints Duthie Lidgard as new MD
Whale freed from rope at Byron Bay
Tidal current installations will increase boating hazards
Dangerous conditions for NSW coastal boaters from Thursday
World premieres and national debuts for Sydney International Boat Show
Marine Auctions experiencing rising tide of interest *Feature
Tags reveal Chilean devil rays are among ocean's deepest divers
Auckland On Water Boat Show to hold world record attempt
Zodiac at Sydney International Boat Show 2014 – Australian
Gold Coast International Marine Expo - Exhibitor space filling fast
Ceramic coated exhaust manifolds reduce engine bay temps on superboat
Reminder of safe distance requirements for whales
Changes to Australian bass closed season
Fusion achieves industry-wide acceptance of FUSION-Link
BSE Brisbane Slipways open for business as normal   
Honda’s everywhere at Sydney International Boat Show!   
Fifth round of XCAT World Powerboat Series moves to China   
Sly 43 - Making her Australian premier   
Maritimo full of confidence following recent wins   
Australia event cements its position as hosting 'the' marina party   
Up close and personal with whales on the Gold Coast   
SA Marina Day encourages South Australians to enjoy their marinas   
Southport Yacht Club raffle: Dusit Thani, BRIG Falcon, Marriott stay   
Enjoy the whale spectacle, just keep your distance   
The Dinghy Nav Light Solution- a brilliantly dumb idea   
Extension granted for salvage of a paddle steamer on the Murray River   
Sydney International Boat Show set to embrace new location   
Thermal imaging helping bulk carriers avoid collisions in port and in   
Third CYCA Solas Trusts grant to Australian Volunteer Coast Guard   
CruiseCraft adds Explorer 595 Hard Top   
Severe weather warnings prompt reminder to boat owners   
Be won over by the new Azimut 50   
Predictwind unlocks more features on free accounts   
Tammy Wolf and Mercury's Formula 2 Powerboat on to Divisional Champion   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png   http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS PBW
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT