On September 25, at dawn, KIDO Guide Solomon on turtle patrol in Anse La Roche beach, part of High North Nature Park, discovered 5 hawksbill hatchlings, barely emerged from a nest he had located and duly recorded 58 days earlier. The babies crawled across the white sand into the calm crystal clear water of the bay, evading menacing crab claws and bird predators; yet, as sun rays shone over the High North forest ridge, 36 more hatchlings pushed out of the sand. Exhausted by their effort, the babies hunk still together in the one square foot of nest surface, to wait until the evening coolness and darkness would protect their vital rush toward the beckoning Ocean.
Guide Solomon knew this early bunch needed to be swiftly rescued from other competing beach patrollers, night herons and marine birds beginning to crowd the sky over Anse La Roche bay: to these birds hatchlings are food they can afford only a few months a year and no chance to swoop down & peck the babies would go wasted!
Our night and early dawn nest-patrols ensure the survival of generations of sea turtles at their most crucial stage of development.
Following WIDECAST procedures, KIDO turtle guides collect hatchlings emerged on early mornings, keep them in a container with humid sand in a dark spot and release them in the early evening.
Critically endangered species, such as newborn hawksbill turtles, have so many odds against their survival that only one in 1,000 eggs is estimated to reach reproductive age, some 30 years later!
At dusk, KIDO Turtle Team (Dario, Marina & Dawnell) hiked the trail across the hills to Anse La Roche beach to release the 36 tiny creatures and verify the state of the nest. We had the pleasant surprise to watch a slow ‘river’ of hatchlings emerging there and then from the same nest: a total of 109, coming out ten at a time!
Our presence ensured that, under our watch, no crabs and nor night herons would feast on the vulnerable babies and they all reached the Ocean safely. Within a few strokes of their little fins the hatchlings swam beneath the waves and disappeared.
After all babies appeared to have emerged from the nest, Dario found a few stragglers imprisoned under a web of thin roots overgrowing the rim of the nest, and one hatchling part in his shell who had just torn it open, but was straight-jacketed, unable to stretch out because of the root ends entwining the entire egg shell. Dario carefully cut off each root twine and all stragglers were placed to recover under the keen gaze of volunteer Dawnell, until an hour or so later they slowly unfolded their round posture, and began to crawl correctly aiming for the sea, 20 long feet away.
Then Marina examined each shell in the empty nest and determined that a total of 171 eggs were laid and that 160 hatchlings had emerged alive. A very successful nest development rate! And Teamwork!
We know for sure that 150 made it to the sea and hope that the remaining 10 avoided the beach predators in their treacherous passage from their nest to the Ocean.