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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Anneke the Green Turtle Has Nested at Playa Chikitu and Departed with a Transmitter

It seems that the beach cleanup on September 30 at Playa Chikitu was just in time, as only one week later, Anneke, the green turtle, nested there.  Just after sunset this past Sunday night, a massive green sea turtle weighing approximately 150 kilograms slowly emerged from the sea and crawled up the beach at Playa Chikitu, Washington Slagbaai National Park.  This sea turtle, now named Anneke, took several hours to find her spot, dig a nest, and lay her fourth clutch of the season.

Before returning to the water, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) staff and volunteers intercepted Anneke and constrained her in a special wooden box where flipper tags and a satellite transmitter were successfully attached following standard protocols. Anneke was released at midnight and smoothly departed into the sea.

Throughout their adult lives sea turtles migrate between two homes: their foraging grounds and breeding grounds.  This navigational achievement is extraordinary considering the large distance between their “two homes.” For female turtles, this often means returning and crawling the same beach where they themselves hatched decades earlier.  Anneke’s home foraging grounds are currently unknown, but they should soon be discovered by tracking her migration route.  Identifying these routes and Bonaire’s turtles home foraging grounds provides valuable information to help protect these endangered species.

Anneke, measuring an impressive one meter straight carapace length, showed up on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night to check out the beach from the surf, but without crawling or nesting. Finally, Sunday, to the delight of the STCB team who had expected her on Friday based on her pattern of previous nests, Anneke crawled the beach and after four or five attempts to make her body pit, she found the right spot to successfully deposit her clutch of approximately 100 eggs. Because this was Anneke’s fourth nest of this season, she may soon leave for her home foraging grounds, but it is possible that she will return to lay a fifth nest before departing from her nesting area.  Anneke is the first and only turtle to be tracked from Bonaire during the 2012 nesting season and the fourth green sea turtle ever fitted with a transmitter on Bonaire.  Tracking of Anneke is made possible by a full sponsorship provided by the Valley Foundation. (Source:  STCB)

Note:  Update October 11, 2012: According to our Argos satellite feed, Anneke, the green sea turtle, has begun her migration home.  Moving slowly away from the island on Monday after laying four nests in 34 days, the endangered reptile picked up the pace Tuesday heading north and slightly west. As of yesterday, Anneke is 277 km (172 miles) north of her nests at Playa Chikitu, and is now swimming at an impressive rate.  In just the past 24 hours she has covered 135 km (85 miles).  Anneke’s transmitter is functioning well, sending several signals each day, all showing a straight migration route to the north, slightly west.  34 transmissions have been recorded from Anneke’s satellite transmitter.  (Source:  STCB)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 10, 2012 at 1:21pm AST
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