Now that I am back home, it is time for one last blog post about my coordinator job in Costa Rica.
And no, I don’t want to give you a list of all the good and the bad sides of Caletas. Neither will I specify the things I’ve learned, nor what made it so special to me and how much I developed personally. And no, I don’t want to retell my favourite moments and express some final poetic thoughts.
I rather give you some hard turtle facts, and a collection of my best pictures:
These are my very personal Caletas Turtle Nest Statistics for the Season 2015 / 2016, that means these include only nests which were found by me (and my partners) during patrol.
In total, I found 349 nests.
71 of those had already been partially depredated when I arrived. Of course, I did not count the numerous fully depredated or poached nests which I found.
115 nests (33 %) were left in-situ, but the rest got relocated to the hatchery, that makes 234 relocations.
Me and Melvin found 30 nests together.
51 % of the time I found a nest, I also saw the nesting female. That makes 179 turtles.
97 % of the turtles I saw were Olive Ridleys. I saw one Green Turtle and one Leatherback, but those various times.
The Olive Ridleys had an average shell size of 65 x 70 cm.
Mrs. Baula measured 153 x 107 cm. Mrs. Green measured 91 x 82 cm.
126 turtles were tagged by me or my patrol partners, but only 11 times I found a previously tagged female.
On average, the turtles deposited 89 eggs per nest and dug 38 cm deep.
Nests that got relocated during my patrols had an average hatch rate of 78.8 % and an average emergence rate of 75.4 %. That means about 3 % of the eggs produced hatchlings that couldn’t keep up with the main group and had to be freed by us during exhumations.
The average incubation period was 49 days.
To see (weather-induced?) changes over time, I divided the whole nesting season up into three seasons, which are:
Season start July – September: activity is quickly picking up and then remains high. We have very mixed weather conditions, with mostly sunny days and rain-/thunderstorms every third or fourth night.
In season start, I found 40 % of the nests and 37 % of the turtles.
Hatch success was a phenomenal 87 %. Most of the unhatched eggs were without any development, just egg yolk. Nests incubated on average for 48 days.
High season October & November: activity is booming! It is mostly cloudy and rainy, with crazy hour-long downpours. Sun is rare.
In high season, I found another 40 % of the nests (but consider that it’s only two and not three months!) and saw another 37 % of the turtles.
Hatch success went down to 80 %. Nests incubated for longer now, on average for 51 days.
Season end December – February: activity is gradually slowing down. We have sun, sun, sun.
In season end, I found 20 % of the nests and saw 26 % of the turtles.
Hatch success went further down to 71 %. Most of the unhatched eggs had half-developed embryos inside. Incubation duration has been shorter, at 47 days.
Now let’s look at some records:
My busiest night was 02.November when I found 13 nests during my patrol, followed by 31.October (12 nests) and 20.October (10 nests).
My biggest Olive Ridley measured 71 x 74 cm, whereas the smallest was only 56 x 62 cm.
The biggest nest I collected had 135 eggs, whereas the smallest had only 29 (and it was not partially depredated).
Apart from turtles, there was this:
Well, so much I can say: my story of “becoming a sea turtle conservationist” goes on. It is not over yet!
You will soon hear back from me.