Perfect timing for a busy week thanks to the tortoises and turtles!

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Recently North Island’s Environmental team enjoyed the help of Ashley Dias, a Conservation Ranger from Mahé, Seychelles working under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment. She was able to join our team for a week – perfect timing it turned out, as we had planned a green turtle nest translocation, moving the nest to another, safer nearby area.

One of the females had laid her nest too close to Sunset Bar (West Beach) and in order to ensure the hatchlings won’t have any trouble we decided to move it further up the berm. On the day of the translocation, we met at the Environment Office at sunrise, so we could start the process early and ensure that the eggs would not get too hot or dried out whilst moving them. Wayne Milgate (General Manager of North Island) together with his two children, Hunter and Siena, also joined us.

The sun was barely visible above the trees of West Beach as we started digging for the eggs. During our turtle patrols, if we discover a recent turtle nest we mark it with a coconut marker (basically a coconut on a stick with all the laying details on it) and some bamboo sticks as a barrier so nobody can step on them. Even with those clear marks, finding the eggs within the barrier was no easy task. Elliott, Ashley, Mariette and I got full of sand! After digging very carefully for over 20 minutes (using our hands, as the use of a shovel is not safe for the eggs), Elliott found them. Then we all gathered together and started digging them up…

To our surprise, we could only find 70 eggs, quite a low number. The eggs were marked at the top so they could be placed in the new location with the same orientation (if the eggs are rotated or heavily shaken, the embryo developing inside might die) and placed in egg trays for safe transportation.

We dug another hole in a safer location, 50 meters away from the original location, where the lights from Sunset Bar wouldn’t be seen by the hatchlings (they are extremely light sensitive and very easily disoriented). We started placing the eggs into the new location, protecting them with a net, so crabs won’t be able to access them and eat them. 10 days before the hatchlings start emerging, the net will be removed to allow them to move freely down to the sea.

After these future turtles were happily settled in their new location, we translocated a giant tortoise nest that had been laid in the roundabout close to the staff canteen. Nine shiny and rounded eggs were moved to the baby tortoise pen, where hopefully will also hatch in four to five months.

Hopefully in the months to come new generations of turtles and tortoises will hatch, leaving those characteristic trails in the sand that always make us smile, lighting up our day.



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By Javier Cotin

Javier completed his PhD at the University of Barcelona in 2012. His research is based on the trophic ecology of water birds and their use as bio-indicators of pollution. Javier started bird watching and bird banding at the early age of 12, having banded over 250 species within Europe. His passion for birds and islands has taken him all over Europe, Australia and finally, to North Island, Seychelles.

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