Sea Turtle Ecology

Day 3: Tortuga!
by -- April 27th, 2016

After adjusting to our new sleeping hours, we all woke up bright and early and full of pep for another hike to Brava and Resaca beaches. Although there were still no new turtle nests, the hikes and beaches were still beautiful. After returning to the house, we all got ready to get on the boats and snorkel. Some of us (mainly myself) realized that snorkel sunburn is a real and ever present danger, so better precautions were taken for this lovely day of exploring coral reefs. After preparing sandwiches and gathering hats and sunglasses, we headed out to the dock where we piled on and went out to the Luis Peña Natural Reserve to catch hawksbill turtles. The group split into two subgroups and everyone snorkeled for an hour looking for hawksbill turtles and green turtles. Should we see one, we were meant to try to catch it and bring it to the boat. While in one area, my group found one hawksbill, a few green turtles (we could not catch them though because they are too fast), and a nurse shark. Unfortunately, the other group did not have the pleasure of seeing anything.
After gathering as a large group again, we measured the turtles’ carapace lengths, weights, examined them for any wounds, and tagged them with plastic and Inconel flipper tags. After releasing the turtles, we switched areas and did a transect for an hour again. During this transect, we were all getting “turtle-happy;” as elegantly stated by a fellow classmate, “Everything looks like a turtle!” This time, we saw a few greens, one hawksbill, and some eagle rays. The other group saw some greens as well. After finishing the hour, we hopped back on the boats and examined the final turtle. In order to release the turtle, we had to ride back over to the location of capture, so Carlos, Rolando, Jeremy, Elizabeth Anne, and I went back to Luis Peña Natural Reserve. I had the great pleasure of releasing our turtle friend and we all watched it swim happily away.
Following our day of turtle adventures, the group roamed over to Zaco’s Tacos where we enjoyed a lovely meal of burritos and quesadillas. As for turtles, we cannot wait to see what else is in store for us on this magical island of Culebra, Puerto Rico!
Group Photo

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