Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The Green sea turtle nesting season is about to begin here in their number one nesting locale in the whole of the archipelago of Puerto Rico. Females are expected to be climbing ashore in June, with September being their peak nesting month. Keeping a watch out for the Green turtle nests are a core group of volunteers with Ticatove—a community-based non-profit conservation group here. Last season, they helped track 275 nests on Vieques shores. Known as graceful and powerful swimmers, Green females —that’s hembras de verdes en Español —migrate as much as 1500 miles—swimming at more than a mile an hour—to return to our shores. Greens can’t crawl backwards and this has led to dramatic rescues by volunteers who have to help these hembras de verde. Also, unlike fresh water turtles and tortoises, sea turtles can’t retract their legs or head into their shells. Because of this, they can easily dehydrate in the sun and die, necessitating an assisted return to the sea. La Tortuga Verde is the second largest native sea turtle species en Vieques—and has a top shell that is oval and heart or corazón shaped that is mottled brown/olive. Their whitish underside gives it the Puerto Rican nickname of “Peje Blanco.” Talk to Refuge biologist Francheska Ruiz-Canino about how to recognize a Green sea turtle and she’ll tell you to look at the face & head. If it has a pointy or beak-like shape, that’s a Hawksbill. The Greens are distinguished by a round face. Greens & Hawksbills juveniles are the mostly commonly seen sea turtles when snorkeling. Green Tortugas live 80+ years on average and are the only sea turtle to eat sólo las plantas. They graze in underwater meadows of sea grass and algae. Their diet, high in fiber and low in protein, contributes to their slow growth and slow sexual maturation, which can take 20-35 years. Remaining loyal to their breeding, nesting, feeding and sleeping sites, they return to these specific spots year after year. Mating takes place, perhaps, nine times in a season, at about two-week intervals, but not every year. The females usually dig nests on the same beach they hatched from, where the eggs will incubate for about 2 months. Nests vary from 75 to 200 eggs, depending on the age and health of the mamá Verde. If you noticed stakes & yellow tape protecting nests on Sunbay, Caracas and La Chiva during early June, those are protecting Leatherback eggs. Greens are one of the siete sea turtle species who predated and outlasted the dinosaur. So if you want to support these ancient creatures who live around us, consider getting involved in sea turtle conservation. # # #

No comments: