November marks the start of our 2017/18 turtle nesting season and our FIRST EVER volunteer turtle monitoring program!!
Preparations for this upcoming program are well underway! Two new turtle hatcheries have now been constructed on opposite sides of Panasesa Island.
The purpose of these hatcheries is to protect turtle eggs that have been relocated from our other islands. One of the main problems with turtle hatcheries is that the hatchlings often have skewed sex ratios (uneven numbers of male vs female turtles).
Sea turtles, like many other reptiles, undergo temperature sex determination. This means that the temperature of the sand determines whether the turtle hatchlings will be male or female. The pivotal temperature is roughly 29⁰C, with a higher proportion of female turtles born when the sand temperature is over 29⁰C and a higher proportion of male turtles when the sand temperature is below 29⁰C.
We kept this in mind when constructing our new turtle hatcheries. One of our hatcheries is in full sun (creating warmer sand temperatures) and the other is in full shade, this should create small differences in the sand temperature between each hatchery. Throughout the season we will be monitoring the temperature of the sand in each nest within both hatcheries.
Baskets are placed over each nest to prevent any predators, such as crabs and goannas, getting into the nests. The eggs will incubate in our Turtle Hatchery for 6-8 weeks. The hatchlings will then use temperature cues to time their emergence, preferring to emerge in cooler temperatures (at night or before rain).