Sea turtle nesting season has kicked off with a bang- here is a brief summary of some of the recent turtle activity from within Inhambane Province.
- Nesting attempt by leatherback-On the 3/11/13 at ~9pm a Leatherback (D. coriacea) climbed the beach berm and began a nesting attempt directly infront of Bamboozi Beach Lodge. She did not complete her nesting attempt, possibly from being disturbed by tourists and their flash photography. Even though she didn’t nest this is the first reported sighting of a leatherback within Tofo Bay in several years, it’s a good sign that they are still using this beach as a nesting ground. (Reported by Amy, visiting Peace Corps volunteer).
- Leatherback excavating her body pit on Tofo Beach
- Mature turtle entangled in fishing lines– On the 5/11/13, a mature sized turtle (either C. mydas or C. caretta)~1.2 carapace length, was found by Diversity Scuba with fishing lines wound tightly around its right front flipper nearby to a dive site known as Mikes Cupboard. They successfully cut the lines off the turtle and it swam away with minimal injuries. (Reported by Jamie Edwards- Diversity Scuba).
- Mating Loggerhead turtles– Numerous reports have been circulating in early November of sightings of multiple pairs of mating turtles. The male turtle mounts the female from behind and the couple can remain mounted for several hours.
- Caught in the act- mating pair of loggerhead turtles (9/11/13). Photo courtesy of Anthony Kobrowisky.
- Rarer sightings of Hawksbill turtle on dives– There have been increasingly frequent reports of a mature sized Hawksbill turtle (E. imbricata) hanging out on the Northern Tofo dive sites. Thanks to Daan from MMF we have a full set of photo-ID shots for this individual and will now be able to track it, if its caught on camera in the future!
- Left photo-ID of new hawksbill to the Tofo area
- Loggerhead nest– On the morning of 14/11/13, Jess our turtle program director met Jimo a guarda (night guard) for a beach front property at Tofinho Point. Jimo was eager to explain that on the night of the 13th a turtle came ashore and nested. He was concerned the nest would be poached so he covered the turtles tracks after she returned to the water. Jess and Jimo visited the site and confirmed that it was a loggerhead nest. The nest location is disguised and will remain this way until its expected hatch date in early January 2014.
- Jess, Jimo and Adamo covering the nest location of a loggerhead nest in Tofinho. Jimo points out a piece of the plants the turtle ripped off whilst she was digging
- Poached loggerhead nest– October- Jimo also described and showed Jess the location of another turtle nest from the month previous. He said he found it in the evening and then the next morning when he was walking home from night shift, he noticed that fishermen had dug it up and taken the eggs. This is why he decided to cover the most recent nest he found.
- Leatherback couple tangled in rope and buoy line– Spectacular efforts were made by a team of divers from Jeff’s Pro Dive (JPD), Guinjata Bay on the morning of 12/11/13. After hearing news from a jetskier of turtles tangled in fishing lines not far from shore, they rapidly launched in an effort to rescue the stranded animals. The two mature sized, (>2m) leatherback turtles, suspected to be a mating pair who got entangled whilst still mounted. The turtles were in a state of torpor when approached but as the divers/snorkelers got in the water and begun to cut the ropes off separating the two turtles and allowing them to reach the surface to breathe, they quickly became active and were eventually released. The two leatherbacks swam off with minimal injuries thanks to the heroic and prompt response by JPD (Reported by Mauritza of JPD).
- Leatherbacks entangled in rope and buoy. Photo courtesy of J.Liebenberg
- Poached nesting turtle– In the first week of November, a nesting female turtle who had come ashore to lay, was poached by a group of locals in Paindane. Anecdotal evidence suggests this turtle was marked with some kind of tag, however we are waiting for more information, to understand the situation. Its possible that it may have been a flipper tagged turtle in the Ponta D’Ouro Partial Marine Reserve or from across the boarder in South Africa. (Reported by Vossie of Paindane Bay Dive Charters)
- Turtle Nest– On the night of the 11/11/13 a turtle laid a nest in Paindane between Lighthouse Reef and Horizonte. This nest has been marked out with wooden poles to prevent driving over by 4WD beach traffic and will now be guarded to prevent poaching. (Reported by Vossie of Paindane Bay Dive Charters)
- Turtle Nest-Another nest was reported in Paidnane on the night of the 18/11/13. The nest is South of Paindane/Lighthouse Reef and will require guarding, unfortunately funds to guard these nests are reliant on donations and the future of these particular nests is not guaranteed due to financial limitations. (Reported by Adri McQueen).
In previous seasons nesting activity has been considerably lower and we have been concerned that human pressures in the region are too high to support a healthy nesting turtle population. Help us protect these nests and others in the area by making a donation via our paypal site. Please include a note in the special instruction box of the paypal form- “Protect Mozambican turtle nests”. It costs $5 per day to employ and educate guardas de tartarugas (turtle guards) to protect these nest locations for the 55-70 days of the nest’s incubation. Every $5 donated will ensure 24 hours of safe incubation for the ~120 turtle eggs per nest developing in the beach sand.
Once sea turtles reach sexual maturity, the females will return to their natal region of coast, or home beach. By ensuring of the safety of these nests for the next 55-70 days we can increase the chance that these beaches will remain an active turtle nesting rookery long into the future!
Tartarugas para Amanhã: Turtles for Tomorrow
If you know of other turtle activity from the region, please contact us. (firstname.lastname@example.org).