Turtles lay eggs under army guard

iol scitech aug 19 Olive Ridley turtles

AFP

File photo: The first 1 400 Olive Ridley turtles arrived to nest at the Chacocente Wildlife Refuge on the Central American country’s southern coast.

Managua – About 2 500 endangered sea turtles have made their annual descent on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast to nest, protected by soldiers deployed to stop locals from stealing their eggs, the army said on Monday.

The first 1 400 Olive Ridley turtles arrived to nest on Thursday at the Chacocente Wildlife Refuge on the Central American country’s southern coast, regional military commander Jose Larios told the Nuevo Diario newspaper.

They were followed by hundreds more on Friday and Saturday, said Larios, whose troops are guarding a 1 500-meter stretch of beach where the turtles lay their eggs.

About 120 000 sea turtles of several species lay their eggs each year on the beaches of Chacocente and the nearby La Flor refuge.

The army has been deployed to protect them since 1992, fending off poachers who sell or eat the eggs.

Turtle eggs fetch $1(about R10) a dozen for local poachers, but a plate of three costs about $12 in restaurants that sell them as a prized delicacy, the government’s chief environmental adviser Jaime Incer told AFP. – Sapa-AFP

via http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/turtles-lay-eggs-under-army-guard-1.1737365

Florida man arrested for stealing nearly 300 SEA TURTLE eggs

A Florida man was arrested for stealing hundreds of sea turtle eggs, authorities siad. he faces up to five years in federal prison.

By RYAN GORMAN

A Florida man was arrested after being found with nearly 300 sea turtle eggs, authorities said.

The unidentified St. Lucie County man was caught by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) agents after a local snitched on him for taking the eggs from a beach.

Agents checked a sea turtle nest and then used a canine unit to track down the egg thief, who has at least one prior arrest in 2002 for the same crime.

A backpack with 299 sea turtle eggs was found in the man’s possession, the FWC said.

Sea turtles are a protected endangered species in Florida, and the man faces both state and federal charges for the thefts, according to the agency.

The eggs are sold on the black market for about $30 per dozen, according to the Palm Beach Post.

They are seen as an aphrodisiac by some cultures that bake them into food and even use them in religious ceremonies.

Egg stealing appears to be a problem in the Sunshine State.

Numerous people have been arrested for pilfering sea turtle eggs, including a man with multiple arrests for the crime since 2005.

Penalties for disturbing sea turtle nests are stiff – up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

A message left with the FWC seeking more information has yet to be returned.

via http://www.aol.com/article/2014/08/19/florida-man-arrested-for-stealing-nearly-300-sea-turtle-eggs/20949076/

Save the sea turtles! Andersen teams with local university to conserve species

Save the sea turtles! Andersen teams with local university to conserve species
Melissa WhiteTurtle-safe lamps light the Tarague Beach recreational area on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 17, 2014. The bulbs were replaced in March and are designed to emit light in lower wavelengths which sea turtles are unable to see, giving hatchlings a better chance at survival by following the natural moonlight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White)

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a series featuring conservation programs managed by the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight.

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Team Andersen has partnered up with a scientific research team from the University of Guam this year to help make the base’s beaches cleaner and greener – with turtles – by participating in the sea turtle monitoring, protection and educational outreach program on Guam.

The program aims to conserve the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and endangered green sea turtle species that occasionally make their way to the rocky and sandy shores of Andersen for foraging, nesting and residential behaviors. The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight will use the findings from the research along with current and new conservation efforts they implemented to update the AAFB Sea Turtle Management Program for 2015.

“We are contributing to the overall recovery of these endangered species,” said Ruben Guieb, 36th CES Environmental Flight Natural and Cultural Resources Conservation Program chief. “We are taking active and aggressive actions toward being good environmental stewards and we do care about their recovery. We will use this information to better understand the species and track any changes in their population in the future.”

An integral part of the program includes field studies where Tarague Basin on base is surveyed and monitored for turtle activity by the UOG scientific program. This part of the program began in March and will continue until the end of March 2015 in order to gather sufficient scientific data to determine a baseline of how often and how many turtles come to the base each year, along with the behaviors they exhibit.

“I’ve worked on turtle projects before, and this one is different because this beach has so little data from the past,” said Marylou Staman, University of Guam Sea Turtle Monitoring, Protection and Educational Outreach on Guam project manager. “We’re working to determine a hard nesting season and to gather really good data about the turtles and their habits in order to see through the next few years if what we’re doing is helping and they keep coming back here.”

Since they started surveying the beaches five months ago, Staman and her team have monitored 14 green sea turtle nests on the base, which resulted in a total of 984 hatchlings, based on the empty shells left behind. She said the statistics are critical because sea turtle biologists predict only one out of every 1,000-2,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood. Green sea turtles take 25-30 years to reach sexual maturity. That means maybe only one turtle from this season could return to Andersen in 25-30 years to reproduce.

The scientists survey the beach at least six days each week to monitor turtle activity and any active nests. When a nest is discovered, they mark off the site with pink tape and observe the nest daily until the turtle is finished nesting in that location. This process could take several weeks because the turtle lays eggs in the same location in two-week intervals, providing about 70-120 eggs each time.

When nesting occurs at the Tarague Beach recreational area, the 36th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation does its part to protect the endangered species by closing off any campsites that may be adjacent turtle nests. They also provide campers with educational material on the turtles to make guests aware of the creatures and how they can help keep them safe.

During Staman’s almost-daily treks on the beach, any activities she notices that may harm the endangered species and their recovery are reported to the appropriate base agencies.

“People don’t realize that dogs are attracted to the scent of the nests, or if a dog is with its owner and leaves its mark on the beach, then it’s going to attract boonie [stray] dogs that could endanger the nests,” Staman said. “So if I see someone down here with a dog, then I report it … and I’ve started seeing more signs put up by the base to let people know dogs aren’t allowed. It’s nice to work on a beach where you feel like people are really proactive and giving you support.”

The base has shown initiative in other ways this year by installing turtle-safe lighting by the Tarague Beach area. The bulbs are designed to emit light in lower wavelengths turtles are unable to see. This change eliminates a deterrence that may have minimized or prevented nesting in the past and will allow emerging hatchlings a greater chance of making it to the water by following the moonlight reflecting off the ocean without the disorientation of artificial lighting.

Andersen also hosted a beach clean-up on Earth Day in April, with plans to have another one in September as part of the 20th Guam International Coastal Cleanup. This practice coincides with the base’s goals of protecting the turtles by preventing danger of entanglement in litter.

“I think the turtles are really lucky to have the beaches on Andersen because the base’s support is really good and there are fewer and fewer nesting beaches for them,” said Staman. “If this is just the start of a long-term project, I think Andersen has the power to do something great.”

via http://www.dvidshub.net/news/139600/save-sea-turtles-andersen-teams-with-local-university-conserve-species

Painted turtle lost on streets of NE Portland

Painted turtle lost on streets of NE Portland
by Sara Roth, KGW USA Today Posted on August 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM

PORTLAND — A turtle escaped from its confines in Southeast Portland and its caretaker is hoping the public can help find the reptile at large in the city.

Steven Stevenson of Portland found the Western Painted Turtle on a highway while he was driving with his family through North Dakota. Stevenson said he dodged semi trucks to get the turtle out of harm’s way.

He planned to bring the turtle to Portland and turn it over to the Department of Fish and Wildlife so they could release it back into the wild, but it escaped before he could give it to officials.

Now, Stevenson is hoping someone spots the turtle, which got loose near Southeast 66th Avenue and Boise Street.

The turtle can be distinguished by its colorful underbelly.

“When you would turn it over, it had what would look like a pirate’s map on the belly,” Stevenson said.

He is offering a reward for the return of the turtle. Anyone who thinks they may have spotted the lost turtle should call Susan Barns at 971-673-6010.

via http://www.nwcn.com/news/oregon/271612021.html

Plan hatched that could help keep beaches open

BUXTON, N.C.

Britta Muiznieks, a biologist with the National Park Service, fastened the cable together, placed the joint within a small bottle and then enclosed it within a plastic pipe jutting above the sand near sea turtle nest No. 36.

The cable runs under the sand to a sensor housed within a case that looks like a ping-pong ball, closely matching the turtle eggs buried with it. The device sends temperature and movement signals to a cellphone circuit board in the plastic pipe that in turn transmits the data to a computer server in California.

It’s a high-tech system, homemade from simple components, that could have far-reaching benefits.

“One day, we will be able to predict when nests hatch,” Muiznieks said.

Forecasting a hatch could shorten the period – to a few days from the current month or more – that park staff must cordon off the beach from vehicles, she said. The public could be invited to watch a “boil,” the moment when roughly a hundred baby turtles emerge from the sand and crawl to the surf. Biologists would not have to spend as much time monitoring the nests.

For now, park rangers patrol the beach daily from May through Sept. 15, finding where mother turtles crawled ashore to lay eggs, and marking the area with signs.

The hatch occurs about 62 days later. Rangers close off the beach, from nest to surf, starting about day 50.

“We are required to protect the resource,” Muiznieks said.

The sensor experiment had its beginnings five years ago when Eric Kaplan bought a house in Frisco with his family after selling his technology business in Charlottesville. He wanted to be part of solving local issues, including the conflict between beach drivers and preservationists.

“I was taken aback by the sea-turtle nest management,” said Kaplan, who founded the Hatteras Island Ocean Center, a nonprofit aimed at enhancing the local economy while protecting the ecology. “Why use 1950s technology to solve a 2010 problem? Right away, I knew there had to be a better way.”

He contacted childhood friend Tom Zimmerman, who worked at IBM in San Jose, Calif. With the blessing of IBM, Zimmerman spent hours developing the sensor, at first using a cellphone circuit board. He contacted his college friend Sam Wantman, a retired software engineer, to continue the work.

The team developed the technology, which is able to withstand the elements, and began tests late last summer.

“It’s really hard to simulate the Hatteras environment at a lab at IBM or in an apartment in San Francisco,” Kaplan said.

At first, the plastic pipe guarding the electronics was black. That got too hot under the Outer Banks sun and they switch to white, Kaplan said.

The research and development so far would normally cost hundreds of thousands, Wantman said. The team – Wantman founded Nerds Without Borders to attract other experts to the project – has done it all for free.

Grants and funds from the Park Service paid for the equipment.

As of Friday, 118 turtle nests were marked on Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches. Muiznieks has placed sensors in 20 of the nests this year.

Wantman spends much of his time looking at temperatures and motion signals. On Aug. 7, he saw a flood of data. He sent a note to Muiznieks that something big was going on.

The nest hatched two days later.

The delay between heavy movement and calm just before hatching raised questions.

“How does turtle No. 1 know to come out of the nest at the same time as turtle No. 100?” Kaplan said.

The theory is that the turtles begin hatching, crawl above the empty eggs without breaking the surface and wait until it is certain that all or almost all are ready to emerge.

Kaplan compared it to waiting for the last pop in a bag of popcorn.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” he said.

The team hopes to set up automatic data analysis and better match the long-distance signals to what is happening in a turtle nest on a Hatteras beach. Muiznieks has mounted infrared cameras in buckets adjacent to some of the monitored nests.

The turtles know when to go. Cellphone technology and ping-pong ball sensors could help their protectors know, too.

via http://hamptonroads.com/2014/08/plan-hatched-could-help-keep-beaches-open

Giant leatherback turtle spotted near Mousehole

By CGAlex  |  Posted: August 16, 2014
leatherback turtleThe leatherback turtle – Picture courtesy of Marine Discovery Penzance


A giant leatherback turtle has been spotted in waters just off the coast of Mousehole.

Crew members from Penzance-based sightseeing company Marine Discovery caught a glimpse of the beast on Saturday afternoon as it surfaced.

Head guide and co-owner Hannah Jones said: “Out of the corner of my eye I saw something come up that looked like it was reasonably large. We stopped the boat and waited. I saw it come up again and said straight away ‘it’s a turtle'”

Hannah said it was a real treat to see the animals, which tend to favour warmer water.

 “They’re incredibly rare to see in Cornish waters,” she said, “but there are all these jellyfish about and presumably they’re here to feed on them.

“It’s the only turtle that can survive in these temperatures. In years gone by we might have seen even more of them, but they’re so endangered now.”

Experts believe more turtles than usual have made their way to the Cornish coast due to it being a bumper year for jellyfish – the turtles’ preferred food.

The leatherback turtle is the largest of all living turtles – comparable in size and weiht to a small car – and are the fourth-heaviest reptile after crocodiles.

Adults average between 6-7ft in length.

via http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Giant-leatherback-turtle-spotted-near-Mousehole/story-22756677-detail/story.html

Rugby included in world art project

August 15, 2014 Tim Chapman – Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

Eight area blacksmiths and apprentices worked through a steamy July 28 at Prairie Village Museum to craft an addition to a Swiss art project traveling the world.

The blacksmiths pounded on 17 pieces of half-inch steel to make a turtle to place on the end of a tree trunk or “bloch” that was being carved, painted, nailed and more during its North American tour, which went through North Dakota.

About 200 people gathered at the museum that evening to meet the artists, observe the massive tree trunk and listen to music, including North Dakota folk star Chuck Suchy.

Tim Chapman/PCT
Area residents got the chance to leave their marks on a “bloch”, a tree trunk that was carved, nailed, painted and more on its North American tour. The bloch stopped at the Prairie Village Museum on July 28.

 “It’s about communication and part mediation,” said Johannes Hedinger, one of the two Swiss artists. “It’s also about bring together different cultures. It’s an open art piece. We don’t know where it’s going physically, ideologically.”

North Dakota state folklorist Troyd Geist was in charge of setting up the tour, which hit Fargo, small towns and the Turtle Mountains. The idea for adding the image of a turtle as a representation of North America (the artists are visiting each continent) came from the Ojibwa Indian legend of the Creation of Turtle Island.

“The gist is the world was covered in water and a tree fell into a hole in the sky down to earth,” Geist said. “What happens is a muskrat went down to the bottom, pulled mud up and was put on the back of a giant turtle.”

Other versions tell of a sky woman being pulled up by the turtle.

“Europe had its chance, Asia had their chance, now it’s our turn with the tree,” Geist said. “We wanted everything to relate to one another, not only aesthetically, but in meaning.”

Other North Dakota art on the trunk included a painting of a western meadowlark, the state bird. A flute inspired by songbirds was carved from the trunk’s wood and placed in a shelf of the trunk.

Minot woodworker John Martinson, an instructor with the North Dakota Council on the Arts’ traditional arts apprentice program, was mailed wood from the trunk a few months earlier. He carved out a handful of arrows, which he and the two artists shot into the trunk in front of the museum visitors.

“It was a little tougher to work with because it’s lighter than what I’m used to,” said Martinson, who carved the arrows in North Dakota Hidatsa style, adding feathers. “It’s very interesting I was picked. It’s an honor.”

Maddock’s Dean Hagen led eight blacksmiths and apprentices from around the state. Hagen was honored to be a part of the team of artists in the only state visited by the bloch, save a stop in Moorhead, Minn.

“When I looked at the bloch, I was impressed with all the work on it,” Hagen said. “We were kind of curious what we could actually do to it.”

Elva Berg, 14, of Cavalier, was working on her first project as a young blacksmith.

“It’s great to know I can be a part of something, even if it was just on a national level,” she said. “I look at the beautiful detailed work on that trunk and to know our mark is gonna be on that is just amazing.”

All attendees could leave their mark with written notes, which were placed in an opening of the trunk and sealed shut.

via http://www.thepiercecountytribune.com/page/content.detail/id/509867/Rugby-included-in-world-art-project.html?nav=5003

Stranded sea turtle babies saved

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This week Longboat Key Turtle Watch Volunteers found a hole dug in the sand in what is termed as Zone C. There was a hole that beachgoers had dug and had not filled in. The nest nearby had hatched, and 16 hatchlings were found by the volunteers stuck in the hole on their crawl to the ocean. Luckily, since the members came across them early and took the hatchlings out of the hole, they were all able to get out to the ocean. The volunteer group wanted to use this event as a reminder for people who use the beach to fill in any holes they make or find.

In addition to filling in holes on the beach, sea turtle safety includes putting obstacles like beach chairs away at night and having special sea turtle lighting as required by town ordinance. According to Turtle Watch Volunteer Cyndi Seamon, the group has had to free at least one sea turtle from a beach chair that was left on the beach, and found evidence of turtles dragging beach chairs with them to the water, and had various lighting violations.

The following is available information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website regarding beach furniture and sea turtle safety:

Remove furniture from the beach nightly.

Stack and arrange furniture.

At night, furniture should be completely removed from the beach and stored behind the primary dune. Please remember, marine turtles prefer to nest on the mid to upper beach, protecting their nest from the high tide.

Furniture that is left on the beach at night can prevent nesting turtles from reaching the upper beach. If furniture cannot be removed at night, it should be stacked to minimize interference with nesting or hatchling sea turtles.

Arrange the stacked furniture with the shortest edge facing the shoreline. Heavy equipment is not allowed on the beach during nesting season. When possible, all furniture should be moved by hand.

Place furniture properly at least 5 feet from any marked nest. Use an umbrella holder or sleeve. No furniture should be placed on the beach until a nesting survey has been completed by a Marine Turtle Permit Holder, who will identify and mark nests. Furniture should not be placed on salt-resistant vegetation or on the dunes. To the degree possible, avoid burying umbrella poles during sea turtle nesting season. Either anchor an umbrella holder or sleeve before the nesting season to use throughout the summer, or use umbrellas that clamp directly to the furniture.

via http://www.lbknews.com/2014/08/16/stranded-sea-turtle-babies-saved-2/

Huge dead turtle found on Sidon’s coast

A huge dead turtle was found on Sidon’s coast on Saturday morning Aug. 16, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatri)

SIDON, Lebanon: A gigantic dead turtle is not what Sidon beachgoers were expecting Saturday morning, but the recurrence of such a disturbing sight is raising concerns for the migrant population of turtles in south Lebanon.

A number of people reported that a huge turtle was found on Sidon’s coast in the early hours of the morning, prompting municipality workers to swiftly remove it.

Maritime experts estimated that the turtle was likely over 100 years old.

In the past three years, at least six turtles have been found dead on the coast of Sidon and Tyre, but experts aren’t certain of the cause behind the rising phenomenon.

The most plausible reason is sea pollution, namely trash from a nearby dump for fishermen. Experts have warned that turtles eat plastic bags, thinking they are jellyfish

Lebanon’s south coast is a tradition safe haven for sea turtles, with several species arriving every year to lay their eggs between June and July.

via http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Aug-16/267427-huge-dead-turtle-found-on-sidons-coast.ashx

Shark-bitten turtle rescued on Ossabaw

Posted: August 15, 2014 – 10:46pm  |  Updated: August 16, 2014 – 9:07am
<p node="media-caption">Photo courtesy of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center</p><p node="media-caption">Phoenix is recovering at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island.</p>

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Phoenix is recovering at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island.

First the bad: She was bitten by a shark. That’s clear from the telltale semi-lunar chunk missing from her shell behind her right front leg, said naturalist John “Crawfish” Crawford.

A shark bite is a bit unusual for a big girl like Phoenix, an adult sea turtle who weighs in at 190 pounds. Sharks aren’t known to be discriminating diners, but Georgia’s adult loggerheads are too large and spend too much time feeding on the ocean floor to be much of a target for these predators, said Mark Dodd, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and the state’s sea turtle coordinator.

Phoenix may have had an infection or injury that left her drifting and vulnerable to a shark attack, Dodd conjectured.

But then there’s the good luck: Phoenix washed up on Ossabaw Island, lethargic but alive on a recent Saturday morning.

It was the same Saturday as this year’s turtle tour for the Ossabaw Island Foundation for which Crawford provides the naturalist services. He was leading a group of 13 island visitors to a turtle nest excavation, a scientific inventory that takes place routinely after a nest hatches, when they stumbled upon Phoenix.

Carolyn Kilgore, one of two turtle technicians posted on the island for the nesting and hatching season from May to October, was already tending to her in the surf. It was a National Geographic moment.

“We were expecting to go around and see the marshes, see them do a nest and maybe see little turtles that didn’t make it,” said Dr. Sidney Smith, who went on the trip with his wife and 13-year-old daughter. “We didn’t expect to see live turtles.”

The visitors helped pad an ATV with marsh wrack and hoist Phoenix into the vehicle for her ride to the dock, where DNR staffers met them and transported her to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll.

There, an exam revealed the shark bite had not punctured her lung or body cavity, a lucky break for Phoenix. An X-ray did show, however, that she had a blockage in her intestinal system.

She was given intravenous fluids, B vitamins and wound care. Though she initially had no interest in food, she started to eat on Thursday, a good sign for her recovery.

For the Ossabaw visitors, the adventure didn’t end with Phoenix’s rescue.

At the nest excavation, they uncovered 54 straggler baby turtles they escorted to the surf. And in the afternoon Crawford showed them the biggest alligator nest he’d ever seen, a pile of vegetation nearly the size of a compact car. The mama gator, which Crawford has observed many times before, was nowhere to be seen, probably off feeding in a saltwater river, he said. But her babies from a prior year were swimming nearby. Passing another pond, the group scared up a flock of hundreds of white egrets, a scene Smith said looked like “something out of Africa.”

“That was a magical, magical day,” he said.

TRIPS TO OSSABAW

The Turtle Walk Weekend is one of about 10 public trips the nonprofit Ossabaw Island Foundation has sponsored this year to encourage visits to the 26,000-acre Chatham County barrier island, which is owned by the state and operated as a heritage preserve.

Other trip themes have included stargazing, the history of Ossabaw Island and archaeology. An indigo dyeing workshop is scheduled for Sept. 13-14 with overnight accommodation on Ossabaw in the clubhouse, boarding house or camp on the North End.

Prices for that weekend trip begin at $100 for foundation members who camp. Participants will receive a custom-made T-shirt to dye indigo blue. For more information, go to www.ossabawisland.net.

via http://savannahnow.com/news/2014-08-15/shark-bitten-turtle-rescued-ossabaw

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