Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Olive Ridley Turtle, Tagged and Released

 We just released an Olive Ridley marine turtle this morning. She got tagged and happily left. We expect she'll be back tonight to lay.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts from the year past and the new beginning

 What a crazy, hectic year 2011 was. 

Since September, we've been walking on the beach every morning looking for marine turtle nests. So far we found 9. It's amazing how, with a little patience, these: 


Turn into this:

It's been a whole year and 4 days since the first time I ever saw marine turtle hatchlings in my life. 400 hatchlings later, I'm hungry to see more, and make sure they get to the water safely. 

Waking up every morning has not been that enjoyable. The stars, the moon, the sea are all beautiful on most days no matter what time of month. But there are also risks. People who sleep on the beach, other people who are out looking for marine turtle eggs to sell, sometimes, big groups of men who are doing who-knows-what on the beach. It really isn't about trying to gain popularity. It's not just about trying to save the turtles. What I'd really like to do is for people to realize that, hey- it's time to start seeing reality for what it is, especially on the environmental side. It's time to wake up and stop being so selfish. It's time to live RESPONSIBLY and with concern not just for oneself, but for others- down to the crabs, sharks, birds, anemones, snakes, and what not.

Never before has the world seen so many species (be they plant or animal/insect etc) go extinct in such a short period of time as they have in the past 20-50 years. 

It is horrifying to me to think that I will see the ocean DIE within my lifetime. What will be left for the future generations? Tons of garbage, a dead ocean, polluted air and water, and a whole, long list of problems and diseases left by their grandparents or great grand parents who didn't care enough to think further than the next 10, 20, 70 or even 100 years?
 Watching turtle hatchlings crawling towards brings about so many thoughts, concerns, and emotions. It is amazing to think that one day, 15-30 years from now (assuming the hatchlings are female), this tiny thing will make it back here to lay her own eggs. Our seas and oceans are becoming so much more polluted. Seeing the state of our beaches here - despite our regular coastal cleanups, is an easy testament to that. Just from this small town, we get so much trash. The fish, whales, and other big and small animals - including marine turtles are eating plastics, mistaking them to be natural food like jellyfish. As a result, they're dying. 

Then of course- I can't help but think and feel, "Can't I do more to help this little guy out? Such a vast ocean out there, such a tiny, tiny hatchling." I can only marvel at Mother Nature's wonders and hope and pray to the Supreme Father to help the little one along. Adios, we wave goodbye- have a safe journey. We hope to see you here again when you are ready to return. 

And so here's a nest, after the hatchlings hatch and leave, we dig up the nests and count the hatched and unhatched egg shells, and see if there are any dead ones left. On December 30, in the first nest that hatched, there were so many dead hatchlings. I asked the local marine turtle experts and they said that it's most likely because the tides reached the nest (all the dead hatchlings / eggs were on the bottom). 
Btw, the first nest that hatched, the numbers were: 78 were alive and made it to the sea safely, 38 hatchlings were formed but dead, and 5 eggs didn't hatch. That's right, the mother turtle laid a total of 121 eggs.

The second nest had 88 eggs. 77 of them made it to the water safely, 1 hatchling died, and the rest were eggs that - for some reason or other, didn't hatch.

Nature has to fight against the greatest adversary she's ever yet faced before- humanity. But we can also be her friend and greatest ally. 

Having said all that, I want to clarify that I am not blind to the fact that people need help too. Many of the egg collectors or poachers in this area harvest the eggs to sell as a seasonal extra-income. We're trying to work with them to turn their egg-collecting to a positive light- e.g. collect eggs for conservation and not for the illegal sale and for eating. We're also looking for alternative livelihood training programs they can do instead of looking for turtle eggs, as well as looking into sanitation and proper sewage options as many people who live by rivers/the sea don't have proper sewage systems set up. It's definitely not that easy nor flattering to deal with, but it's a must.

That's it for now. Busy year ahead. :) Best wishing to all. 

-A treefrog in Banyan Grove