Hatchlings Released: 6045
Hatch Rate: 48,32%
Hatchlings Released: 11.420
Hatch Rate: 52.6% (poor)
Hatchlings Released: 13.052
Hatch Rate: 68.2%
Hatchlings Released – 6.441
Hatch Rate: 43.3% (very poor)
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Hachlings Released: 7.104
Hatch Rate: 76,04%
The 2011 season represented a major turning point of the project. We recognized from the results of the 2010 season that if we could not improve the hatch rates that it would impossible for the project to continue. The project director called for immediate action in the following areas:
• Increased outreach within the local community,
• A literature search of existing and successful projects,
• Consolidation of the project’s efforts and resources,
• Reevaluation of all project methodology,
• Initiation of data collection and research goals,
• Active recruitment of mature and long-term volunteers.
The next step was a search for literature. This was not easy. There are not research libraries available and internet connections are two hours away. We were eventually able to secure four manuals from the internet that collectively proved invaluable sources of information to facilitate making required changes to the project’s methodology. We soon realized that we needed to make modifications at every level of our project’s design. It became clear that we needed to change our methods of hatchery construction, egg collection, temperature monitoring, hatchling release, and record keeping. We also gained ideas on data collection necessary to facilitate the project’s objectives.
Changes in the project’s methodology began with the construction on the hatchery. The site that we selected was near the site used in 2010. The actual site preparation and construction was similar to the hatchery that we constructed the prior year. The site was marked out four by twelve meters, the sand removed and sifted, perimeter posts and sub-surface netting installed. Next, two courses of netting were installed and sewed together, raising the perimeter barrier to approximately two meters. We constructed an overhead supporting structure to attach heat protective shade cloth. Two sub surface temperature monitoring probes were installed at a depth of twenty-five centimeters. Finally, the nesting grids were marked at fifty (50)by one hundred (100) centimeters.
Two important changes were also made in our egg collection and transportation methodology. We accepted no eggs that had been touched directly by human hands. All of the poachers that we bought eggs from were required to take a short class from Arturo (our hatchery manager) and the importance proper egg handling explained and rubber gloves issued. Used gloves were exchanged at eggs were purchased. The second important change came in the form of a motorcycle purchased with funds donated by MSV-Nicaragua. This allowed us to cover more area and get the eggs back into the ground much quicker.
From our literature search several questions emerged as to how best to increase our hatch rate. Were there differences in the physical characteristics of the eggs that made them more or less viable? To answer this question we weighed and measured a sample of each clutch of eggs. The second and possibly most important issue was the effect of temperature on hatch rates. The literature suggests that the optimal range in which turtle eggs incubate is between twenty-six (26) and thirty-four (34) degrees Celsius, with the pivotal temperature (producing equal numbers of males and females) being thirty (30) degrees. To this end, we measured the temperature of the hatchery, in two locations, five times daily. We also weighed and measured samples of each nest of hatchlings. Additionally, we kept records of the level of development of unsuccessful eggs (see Appendix A). Whenever possible, we also collected data on the nesting turtles and the dimensions of the natural nests.
The project was very fortunate to receive the assistance of mature and dedicated volunteers this season. In the egg collection phase of the season we had the help of Simone Nordheim from Germany. Simone is a member of MSV-Nicaragua and donated three months of her time and her living expenses to the project. She and Arturo patrolled the beach every night, from mid August to mid October. Together they collected and/or purchased a total of ninety-nine nests. Simone was also responsible for collecting and recording data from the nests, eggs, and nesting turtles. Her assistance was invaluable to the success of project this year.
The overall expenses for the 2011 season were $3181.24. The bulk of these funds (approximately $2930) were provided by MSV-Nicaragua.de. The remainder of the funds was generated from donations by SeaTurtleRescue.org. The breakdown of expenses for the 2011 season is as follows:
• Motorcycle - $1299.49
• Eggs - $797.83
• Labor - $847.95
• Miscellaneous - $235.97
We were very fortunate this year in that we were able to reduce costs by reusing many of the materials left from the 2010 season. Possibly one of the most exciting results of this season is that we reduced the cost of putting a live hatchling into the water from $2.80 in 2010 to $.45 in the 2011 season. In addition, we accumulated a great deal of data and experience that will add to the existing base of knowledge and which will increase our future success.
Hachlings Released: 993
Hatch Rate: 22.4%
The 2010 season total of hatchlings was nine hundred ninety-three (993). This represented a hatch rate of twenty-two point four percent (22.4%). The project had invested two thousand seven hundred sixty dollars ($2760.00) to achieve these results. This represented two dollars and eighty cents ($2.80) per turtle. While we were very pleased to have released almost a thousand turtles into the sea and the hatch rate versus cost was very dismal. It was quite clear at the time that if we were to continue that we needed to improve our hatch rates and cost ratios. The season was not a complete failure. First, we released the first Olive Ridley turtles to be born on this beach for years. Second, we began to raise community awareness that, regardless of their attitudes, it was possible to put hatchlings into the ocean. Finally, we learned that we had a lot yet to learn.