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#469026 - 07/26/13 06:32 AM Preparing Beach for Turtle Nesting
Marty Offline

Clean up crew at Gales Point Manatee beach

This past weekend, a joint enterprise between the Mary Mount College of Maryland; ITVET Tour-guide Course, headed by Luz Hunter, The Gales Point Youth Group, headed by Kevin Andrewin, and other volunteers and concerned Belizean citizens travelled to Gales Point Manatee to make preparations for the upcoming turtle nesting season.

Gales Point, a small village is very significant to turtle nesting. The beach of the peninsula is a breathing ground for thousands of little crawlers 7 months of the year.

The group embarked on a two-day turtle nesting clean-up campaign where as many as 50 individuals participated in the effort to clean up the beach area.

Spearheaded by Luz Hunter, the day began at 7:00 a.m., and by 2:00 p.m., on Sunday, a very important task had been accomplished. 25% of the debris on the beach peninsula had been removed and bagged. Because of the sheer amount of garbage on the beach, only that could have been collected.

The participants were motivated by the love they have for turtles and ensuring that their habitat is a safe and friendly one.

Turtle nesting periods are between the months of April and November. They include the loggerhead, leather back and the green turtles.

According to researchers, turtles that make their way to the nesting sites depend significantly on their breathing environment to be next to perfect or they leave, in the hope to return for that perfect opportunity to lay their eggs. It is for this reason that the main goal behind the clean-up effort was to ensure an appropriate nesting environment for the turtles. The removal of debris which could have entrapped the turtles was one such way of making the nesting environment appropriate.

An unclean nesting environment for the turtles is not the only challenge they face, as the nesting grounds also attract human poachers as well as other wildlife, which feed on both the turtles as well as the eggs laid.

According to lead group coordinator of the ITVET Tour Guide course, Luz Hunter, the 25% cleaning of the beach is the start of a four-month session which is scheduled to occur once a month for the next few months leading up to November, when the nesting activities decrease.

These migrating reptiles are known to live for up to 150 years; however, they mature at the age of 25. Amazingly, they reproduce 3 to 4 times a year, laying between 100 to 150 eggs at a time. The survival rate, however, is only one tenths of the eggs laid.

Researchers have been intrigued by the turtle's reproduction cycles and in order to better keep track of them; some have been tagged with tracking devices which is attached to their shells to assist scientists better track their migratory patterns during their nesting season. The research is conducted to determine what causes turtles to return their same nesting grounds every time.

So, if you have never been active and aware of how you can help, then think on these two questions. Are you turtle friendly? Have you helped saved a turtle lately?

The turtle clean-up crew is waiting for you. If you want to join our next effort, contact Luz Hunter at cell phone number 635-6012. Make a difference and be a part of the next beach clean-up which is scheduled for August 24, tentatively in Gales Point.

The Guardian

#469089 - 07/27/13 05:56 AM Re: Preparing Beach for Turtle Nesting [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Wildlife Conservation Society And Belizean Volunteers are Joined By Google Staff Volunteers To Survey Belize’s Sea Turtles

Marine scientists and veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society teamed up with volunteers from Belize and Google for this year’s annual sea turtle survey in the coastal waters of Belize. The project, conducted in collaboration with the Belize Fisheries Department, received some key support from staff of Google, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Environmental Research Institute (University of Belize) as they assisted in the sighting, capture, tagging, and release of the marine-dwelling reptiles.

The four main objectives of the surveys, which have been conducted since 2007, are: to determine an absolute abundance estimate of the three species of turtles on the Glover’s Reef Atoll; to increase knowledge of sea turtle movements and habitat use; to assess genetic stock and growth rates of sea turtles on the Atoll; and to increase the capacity of stakeholders to collect accurate and standardized data.

For the second straight year, WCS led a group of volunteers from Google to participate in the annual sea turtle survey at Glover’s Reef Research Station. Over a week-long period, the team snorkeled 16 one hour long transects in Glover’s Reef Atoll, and sighted 90 sea turtles, 75 of which were the critically endangered Caribbean hawksbill turtles. The team also captured by hand a total of 27 sea turtles – 24 hawksbills, 2 greens and one loggerhead.

“The data collected during the surveys will help us answer a number of questions on these species, ranging from how many sea turtles might live in this area to how exactly they use their environment,” said Robin Coleman, WCS Belize Assistant Country Director and leader of the survey.

Once aboard the research vessel, the captured turtles were measured, weighed, and tagged by WCS Belize staff members. One turtle—a sub-adult green sea turtle—was fitted with a SPOT satellite tag, which will enable researchers to follow the long-range movements of the animal as it travels away from Glover’s Reef Atoll.

Before being released, the captured turtles were also given health assessments by Dr. Paul Calle, WCS’s Chief Veterinarian, and Kate McClave, Curator of Aquatic Health at the New York Aquarium. Specifically, the WCS veterinary staff conducted physical examinations on the turtles, which included the collection of blood and tissue samples for pathogenic, molecular, and genetic testing. The health experts also collected barnacles, algae, and other parasites; an analysis of the carbon and nitrogen isotopes in these epibionts can reveal information on regions where turtles acquire these passengers.

“The Annual Sea Turtle Survey is a great opportunity to learn valuable information about the biology and ecology of sea turtles—vital for effective management plans,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Marine Program. “We also thank our committed volunteers from Google and other quarters for helping us carry out our important conservation work at Glover’s Reef.”



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