Friday, 13 July 2012

First post of the 2012 sea turtle season!

A big hello to you all!

The 2012 sea turtle season has officially kicked off in La Barrona! We will get you all up to speed with where the project is at so far this year...

New Hatchery

Mid way through construction of the new hatchery
Scott had the painstaking task of digging out and constructing the new hatchery with the help of local hatchery manager Nando. Seven hours a day for seven days- nothing but digging. The new construction is looking fantastic. Measuring a whopping 7x14 meters, it is the largest hatchery that La Barrona has ever known and if last year’s results are anything to go by, we won’t have any trouble filling it throughout the season.

The finished hatchery


The hatchery inauguration went off without a hitch- many of the local community attended and offered their support for an increased conservation effort this season. A lot of folk were extremely positive to continue pushing the 20% per nest collaboration rate and also to ban motorised vehicles on the beach which is great news. It no way seems like a year ago that Scott and Sarah were stood in front of the village courageously pushing for 20% collaboration, not knowing whether they would be booed off the stage. It really is amazing how far the project has come in just 12 months. Alice came across from Hawaii to help out and Ever was as always a rock of support- thanks so much to both for being there.   

Scott promoting 20% per nest at the inauguration
Alice, Scott & Ever addressing the community
The young Akazul football team standing proud at the inauguration


Last year we counted 1119 nests across 7.2km of beach in La Barrona so we will now be able to start comparing nesting activities on a yearly basis to see what factors affect nesting density and over time, how healthy the nesting population is. We will once again be tagging as many nesting females as we can on night patrols this year. Last year we managed to tag 191 olive ridleys and 1 black turtle and we hope with increased participation of the La Barrona sea turtle stewards and greater coverage of the beach that we will be able to increase the number we tag this year. It really is unchartered territory with tagging ridleys in Guatemala- this data will enable us to known how many nests each female lays each season, the inter-nesting interval and nest site fidelity (i.e do turtles tagged in La Barrona only nest in La Barrona). Beyond this, tagging also has the potential to tell us where females go after nesting, all important knowledge to enable us to better protect these magnificent animals.
Although patrolling is slow with a gentle start to the season, we are already up to 500 eggs buried in the hatchery – not a bad start at all.

Ever in Costa Rica and Panama

Some rather late news- Ever headed off to Costa Rica and Panama at the beginning of the year to work as a research assistant with the Endangered Wildlife Trust. We are happy to inform you that he managed to drag himself away from the white sand beaches and rainforests of Costa Rica and returned safely to Guatemala!  An amazing experience for him, the opportunity to see huge leatherbacks nesting and to gain additional practical turtle conservation experience in Latin America. He had an incredible time on the trip and we would like to offer thanks to the EWT for giving him such a great opportunity.

Ever releasing a leatherback hatchling at the Pacuare reserve, Costa Rica

International Volunteers

We would like to say a big thanks to the first volunteers of the season- at the moment we have a Harry and YØsie working with us in La Barrona who have been a great help with the hatchery construction and inauguration. Over the next couple of weeks we look forward to welcoming three more volunteers; Lucy, Fran and Emma, to the project.

We will be updating the blogsite throughout the coming season, so check back soon for the latest news from Guatemala!


Akazul x