Friday, July 3, 2009

Satellite of love and a daring rescue

Nesting is still in full swing down at Alagadi and the return of the first greens for their 2nd or 3rd clutches means satellite transmitter time! This year 7 transmitters will be deployed and i'm sure you all know that the first one was used on the infamous randall, the male green who appeared on the beach earlier in the season. The next was deployed two nights ago on a small loggerhead measuring 64cms in length. This will allow us to compare her movements with those of the loggerheads satellite tagged in previous seasons to see whether size has any bearing on their migrations. The rest will be designated for greens of over 80cms who have a previous nesting history and have returned to lay their 3rd clutch this season. Last night a suitable cadidate appeared on bay 3 around 1am and the volunteers and visitors waited excitedly to see if she would lay. Luckily she did and with the shout of "Satelliiiittttttttte!" we all mobilised to begin, bringing the heavy satellite equipment over to the turtle, along with tables from the beach bar (thanks to the strong visitors who helped the girls lug them halfway along the beach!). We performed the usual nesting duties while Robin got the glue and sandpaper ready. We waited for her to begin covering her body pit before we prepared her shell by cleaning and sanding to remover algae and barnacles. She was, in the words of our leader, "freaking massive" so there was definately space for the transmitter on her back! She was very calm during the application of the glue and transmitter, carrying on covering her body pit as if we weren't even there. When she was ready to move off the tables came in handy to form a box around her as the glue must be given at least 30 minutes to harden before coming into contact with water. She didn't seem to mind being out of water for a little longer to catch her breath before we removed the tables and watched her make her way to the sea. The visitors named her Marilyn, as in Monroe because she was obviously a hottie in the turtle world.
A little more info for you aspiring turtle watchers: this female nested this season on 08/06 and 21/06 and is 93cm long, 87cm wide. She was first spotted at Alagadi in 1993 and has been returning ever since. From this data we can imagine that she is pretty old and hopefully we will be able to track her for at least the next year. If you would like to follow her on the transmitter number is: 95097.
The excitement hasn't just been at basecamp this week, the Westies have been battling with some car issues which isn't unususual for this part of the project. The constant off-roading to the West beaches plays havoc with the cars and it wouldn't be West without some kind of vehicular problem! Luckily they were able to get back out there after a couple of days with the truck... although the lack of 4x4 caused a bit of a sand stickage problem and the truck was going nowhere very very slowly indeed. Step in Tony Hutchinson, our hero, and all was saved! So thank you very much to Tony and Maureen Hutchinson for keeping a watchful eye over the Westies.
It's not all work and no play down here though, most of the volunteers enjoyed a boat trip yesterday and welcomed the relaxation but not the excessive sunburn!


  1. In the words of Victor Meldrew - "I don't belieeeeve it!". Wouldn't you just know a great turtle nesting experience turns up the night after we stayed til nearly 2am with virtually no action on the Weds. Seriously though we did really enjoy the experience of seeing the green turtle make her way in and out of the sea (did she come back at all?)and it was great spending time out with the group looking a the night sky. Good luck with the project and the hatchlings and we hope to visit again in future.
    Maxine and Paul Kneller. Truro, Cornwall (Pat and John's people!)

  2. As Victor Meldrew would say - "I don't belieeeve it!" Trust us to miss the turtle nesting action after the extraordinarily quiet previous night (Weds).Never mind tough, we really enjoyed being able to see the green turtle enter and leave the sea and it was great to lie on the beach with a friendly group and the night sky. Good luck with the rest of the season and the hatchlings. We hope we will be able to visit again in the future.Cheers, Maxine and Paul Kneller, Truro (booked in by Pat and John).

  3. As Victor Meldrew would say - " I don't believeeeeeve it!" Trust us to miss the turtle nesting action after an 'extraordinarily quiet' (Robin's words)night on Weds 1 July. Never mind though, we really enjoyed seeing the green turtle make her way into and out of the sea and it was great sharing the beach with a friendly group and the night sky. Good luck with the hatchling and rest of the season. We hope to visit again in the future. Maxine and Paul Kneller, Truro, Cornwall.