Exciting night out with the turtlesPART OF THE crowd near the esplanade along the south coast boardwalk watching the female Hawksbill turtle nest. (Heather-Lynn Evanson)
By Heather-Lynn Evanson | Sun, August 05, 2012 - 12:03 AM
IT WAS everything any turtle lover could want.
A nesting Hawksbill who decided to displace another turtle’s nest, the discovery of a nest and a hatchling release all in the same night.
It was all part of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society’s second turtle walk last Saturday along the South Coast boardwalk.
Led by the Museum’s assistant curator of natural history Kerron Hamblin and joined on the night by Darren Browne, field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, the walkers took over patrolling that stretch of the coastline from 8 p.m. until midnight.
Fielding questions at the start, Browne was in the process of explaining the importance of sea turtles to the marine environment when Hamblin received a call that a turtle had come up to nest in the area of the esplanade.
By the time the museum’s group arrived, a large crowd including visitors had semicircled the digging Hawksbill and were watching as she dug up the freshly made nest of another turtle.
Browne counselled them on the safe distance they should keep, gave them the all-clear when it was safe to take pictures and explained that sea turtles returned to the place they were hatched to lay eggs.
As he was doing that, Hamblin discovered hatchling tracks along the lower section of the beach. The group reassembled there and were joined by a visiting couple, who watched as Browne excavated the nest to see how many hatchlings had made it out.
“Once it’s a clear emergence you just follow the tracks back; they just kind radiate outwards,” Browne explained, adding the tracks showed the hatchlings had wandered away from the sea before heading towards their watery home.
As he spoke and fielded numerous questions from the children, he pulled 14 hatchlings from their arm’s deep home.
They, he told those gathered around him, had probably hatched after their brothers and sisters and were not able to join in the massive dig-out.
A count of the shells revealed 149 hatchlings had made it out before them.
And for that point in time, the 14 hatchlings found themselves the centre of attention and petted more than some household pets as members of the group took what might be their last opportunity to hold a sea turtle in their hands.
Browne noted the next part of the night would be to find an appropriately dark spot to release the hatchlings.
A site between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Tapas Restaurant was earmarked and Browne eased one hatchling out of their temporary plastic home – a bucket.
The direction it went, would determine if the spot was a good one. And it was.
So with encouragement from the children who played escort, the remaining 13 made their way out of their temporary home, in and out of footprints that must have been valleys to them, and towards the brightest light – the sea.
The Museum’s third and final turtle walk is scheduled for the last Saturday of this month.
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