Turtle Awareness and Protection Studies (TAPS)
Once again, Steve was down in Roatan for two weeks during March. During the first week, Steve continued the juvenile hawksbill tagging and data collection. He collected data on ??? individuals and was able to release all individuals that were at the Reef House Resort at that time.
During the second week of work in March, the Calitan Mission Group (see the March 2009 update) once again came to work with the Oak Ridge, Punta Gorda, Diamond Rock, and Camp Bay communities that Steve also works with on the theme of sea turtle conservation. The team saw over 300 patients, including dental needs, health and diabetes screening, and a new area this year - eye glasses!
Once again, the communities were very appreciative of the services provided. We took the opportunity to reach the children and their parents during a children's program each evening where the kids (and parents) learned about healthy living, and helping sustain the environment around them. The theme of the sea turtle talk was, "Sea turtles are our FRIENDS, NOT our FOOD ! "
The children also experienced how difficult it is for nesting turtles to climb the beach when there is so much plastic and rubber garbage on the beaches, when they all were "nesting turtles" that had to climb over all the "rubbish" to "lay their eggs."
June - August 2010
The work in the Bay Islands continued at the end of June with a hunt for nesting hawksbills in the area. Steve put calls out to friends around Roatan, Cayos Cochinos, Barbaretta, and Utila to keep an eye out for nesting hawksbills, with the goal of launching the first satellite transmittor on a turtle in the history of Honduras.
While continuing the juvenile hawksbill project at the Reef House Resort, Steve was joined by Haruka Ito, an undergraduate student from Pacific Union College in northern California. Haruka was undertaking a Summer Undergraduate Research Project (SURP). You can find out more about Haruka's volunteer experience on the ProTECTOR Volunteer Page.
During Haruka's time on the TAPS program, we had two large juvenile hawksbills come in to the the Reef House. We could tell they had been tagged before (although the tags had been removed). The number we etch into the turtle's shell was also almost completely grown over. It was impossible to determine who these turtles were...UNTIL...
We had the idea of trying something we hadn't done before. We took photographs of the top and sides of the head of each of these turtles, then compared the face scale pattern in the current photos, to photos of each turtle in our database. It was amazing to see the matches we were able to identify, with each turtle still maintaining a very distinctive face pattern that had not changed since these turtles were last with us.
It turned out that both turtles had last been seen when they were released in 2007 !! It was so exciting to see "Bubbaloochacha" (050-07) and "Bean" (059-07) back again, and to see that they had grown, and were safe and healthy.
During the month of July, Lidia and Steve were to attend the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Group (ICAPO) meetings in Padre Ramos, Nicaragua. Unfortunately, Lidia fell ill the day before they were scheduled to leave and was unable to attend. Instead, Steve went alone to represent ProTECTOR and turtle research in Honduras.
Find out more about the ICAPO meetings at the 2010 Conference page here.
Lectures at Zamorano
On (July 16), Lidia, Steve, Samaria, and Leslie Roberson (see ProTECTOR Volunteers) went to Zamorano University (the premier agricultural school in Honduras), to provide talks for the elementary school children and also for university students. There was great interest from university students and faculty on the community development and conservation work ProTECTOR is carrying out throughout the country of Honduras, especially the Pacific coast areas.
Monitoring Southwest Cay (Utila)