Marine Turtle Monitoring and Conservation Hand-in-Hand

:
A three year review from Playa Norte,
Tortuguero, Costa Rica Stephanny Arroyo Arce, Wing Tsui, Diogo Verissimo, Julie Jackson, James Lewis, David Aneurin Jones and Rebeca Chaverri

Email: costarica@gviworld.com Global Vision International Costa Rica, Apartado Postal 78-7209, Cariari de Pococí, Limón, Costa Rica.

Study Site

Maps: MINAET & googlemaps

Study Site

Maps: MINAET & googlemaps

Study Site

Maps: MINAET & googlemaps

Project Aims
General
Monitor the dynamics of the marine turtle populations of Playa Norte and mitigate the
impact of human activities on their conservation status through filed research, active outreach and cooperation with local stakeholders.

Conservation

Reduce poaching rates by maintaining a presence on the beach and by disguising and

Scientific

relocating nests Educate the local community and tourists about marine turtle conservation Manage the beach habitat to increase availability of nesting sites Investigate the impact of development on the marine turtle population

Gather biometric data on nesting marine turtles Record the spatial and temporal distribution of nesting activity Monitor the number of nesting emergences Determine the poaching level of nests and turtles Record nest survivorship and hatching rates Monitor the apparent health of nesting females Track re-emergences and migrations between nesting beaches Monitor the impact of tourism on the turtle population

Work Conducted
Night walks: Nesting Seasons (Mar-Oct) Spatial & temporal distribution of nests Biometric information Nest marking Tagging nesting females Nest relocation*

Work Conducted
Night walks: Nesting Seasons (Mar-Oct) Spatial & temporal distribution of nests Biometric information Nest marking Tagging nesting females Nest relocation* Morning Census: Year Round Record new tracks of nesting turtles Erase all tracks Camouflage nests Determine the status nest laid in past two days

Work Conducted
Night walks: Nesting Seasons (Mar-Oct) Spatial & temporal distribution of nests Biometric information Nest marking Tagging nesting females Nest relocation* Morning Census: Year Round Record new tracks of nesting turtles Erase all tracks Camouflage nests Determine the status nest laid in past two days Excavations: Hatchling Season (Jun-Dec)

Work Conducted continued...
Habitat Management: Year Round

Educational Classes & Events: Year Round

Results

Playa Norte receives up to four species of marine turtles…

Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)

LL Y TICA RED CR I NGE NDA E
Photo seaturtle.org

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

E
Photo seaturtle.org

ERED ANG ND

Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)

LL Y TICA RED CR I NGE NDA E
Photo seaturtle.org

Loggerhead* (Caretta caretta)

*Incidentally recorded
Photo seaturtle.org

E

ERED ANG ND

Nests 2007-2009
NB: All data presented for 2009 is correct until October 7th
Table 1. Number of nests recorded for 2007 to 2009, Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Nesting Season Species 2007 2008 2009

C. mydas D. coriacea E. imbricata

803 50 16

442 88 27

154 70 19

Temporal distribution:
Dermochelys coriacea
2007 10 2008 2009

8 Number of nests

6

4

2

0 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 8 9

Week of the year

Figure 1. Temporal distribution of leatherback nests during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica.

Temporal distribution:
Chelonia mydas
2007 120 100 Number of nests 80 60 40 20 0 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 Week of the year 42 2008 2009

Figure 2. Temporal distribution of green nests during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica.

Temporal distribution:
Eremochelys imbricata
2007 5 4 Number of nests 3 2 1 0 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 Week of the year
Figure 3. Temporal distribution of hawksbill nests during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica.

2008

2009

32

Encounter times
2007 140 120 Nu m b er o f tracks 100 80 60 40 20 0 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00 22:30 23:00 23:30 00:00 00:30 01:30 02:00 02:30 03:00 03:30 04:00 04:30 05:00 05:30 06:00 06:30 07:00 2008 2009

Encounter time
Figure 4. Peak of activity during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tagging
Table 2. Turtles newly tag during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte,
Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Nesting Season Species 2007 2008 2009

C. mydas D. coriacea E. imbricata

106 8 4

79 10 4

30 11 7

Returning address Dept. Biol.UF, Gainesville, FL, USA

Tag Series: Inconel CP0000 & Monel VA0000

Hatching information
For the nesting season 2008, the success rate for leatherbacks nests was 75%, for green nests 85%, and for hawksbill nests 64%
Table 3. Number of hatched nests and hatchlings, 2007-2009, Playa Norte,
Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Species

Number of hatched nests

Number of hatchlings

C. mydas D. coriacea E. imbricata

254 62 18

25,151 2,624 2,203

Spatial distribution
2007 120 100 Number of nests 80 60 40 20 0 1/8 3/8 5/8 7/8 1 1/8 1 3/8 1 5/8 1 7/8 2 1/8 2 3/8 2 5/8 2 7/8 3 1/8 2008 2009

Beach sector

Figure 5. Spatial distribution of sea turtles during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Nest poaching
Poached Nest

1000 Num ber of nests 800 600 400 200 0 2007 2008 Nesting season
Figure 6. Poaching rate of nest after two days that the eggs were laid, during the nesting season 2007 to 2009 at Playa Norte, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

2009

Poaching of adult turtles
14 turtle carcasses were recorded 2007 – 3 Cm 2008 – 6 Cm; 1 Ei 2009 – 4 Cm
(one nested)

18 additional signs of poaching were recorded (lifted turtles) 2007 – 3 Cm 2008 – 8 Cm; 1 Ei 2009 – 6 Cm; 1 Ei
(seven nested)

On two occasions turtles were found alive in the vegetation during morning census and released

Picture taken from Turning the turtle; BBC Wildlife, May 2009

The Future...?

The Future...?

The Future...?

-- 14% poaching
from excavation data available until October 7, 2009

The Future...?

Thanks
Volunteers and staff

Project partner

With financial support from

With institutional support from

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