Hawksbill turtle nesting foray underway on Cousin Island, Seychelles

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The sight of the tracks of a Hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricate in late October signalled the onset of nesting. Chris Tagg, our conservation officer on the island, instantly despatched a message with photographs. “And so it begins,” he mentioned, a tad melodramatically. The nesting season on Cousin Island Particular Reserve begins in October and ends in March. Nevertheless, earlier begins to the season have been recorded in August and September. Equally, Hawksbill Turtles have been identified to nest as much as early April.

The Seychelles host one of many world’s 5 largest nesting populations of this Critically Endangered turtle, and Cousin Island is a very powerful ‘rookery’ (the time period for a nesting colony of sea turtles) within the western Indian Ocean. We anticipate a whole lot of turtles to emerge from the waters across the island to nest, and every turtle will accomplish that two to 6 occasions in a season.

The 2019-2020 knowledge reveals the significance of this island as a nesting website. The entire variety of turtles arriving was the very best up to now ten seasons, and the variety of nests was the second highest within the final six seasons.

Hawksbill Turtle, copyright Mike Hunter, from the surfbirds galleries

Nature Seychelles workers and volunteers will probably be looking out for them, recording every turtle seen, the kind of nesting exercise, monitor and shell measurements, and tag numbers. They are going to tag all new turtles and document any nests and tracks left behind by the turtles that haven’t already been noticed. They may even log deserted egg chambers and physique pits, with the explanations for rejection famous for evaluation and conservation. These might embrace roots or rocks encountered by a digging turtle, a cave-in of the chamber, disturbances by human or animals, or a falling tree or department. Nests will probably be marked for excavation two months later to find out hatching success.

“Cousin Island is a world conservation success story for the Hawksbill Turtle. Turtles come to those seashores as a result of they’re free from human persecution, disturbance, and air pollution. The marine space 400 metres from the excessive watermark can be protected by legislation,” says Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Government.

“Nesting takes place in the entire Seychelles. Though the legislation prohibits it, turtles are nonetheless poached and harmed. Members of the general public may help by not participating in dangerous actions in direction of turtles and reporting any such actions to authorities,” he provides. Different issues they will do embrace not disturbing or distracting a laying turtle, alerting the ministry of the setting or a conservation organisation that’s monitoring a nesting seashore once they see a turtle, and conserving nesting seashores protected and freed from litter.

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