deadlIne: FrIday, 17 December 2021
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Volunteers patrol the main study beaches at Alagadi throughout each night, every 10 minutes, from late May through mid-September. Upon encountering a female, she is observed by a group of volunteers to record whether she is nesting, attempting to nest or retreating to the sea. Upon nesting the turtle’s carapace length and width are measured along with the pattern and amount of scutes on the shell and she is checked for and fitted with identification tags. The nesting behaviour is observed and the number of body pits and egg chambers attempted are also recorded. She may also be fitted with a satellite transmitter or datalogger. Volunteers place a temperature data logging device into the nest and will place a flat mesh cage on top to help protect against predation by dogs and foxes which habitually dig down to nests when they encounter them. Lastly a dome cage is placed on the top of the nest, to warn visitors using the beach. From mid-July to end of September these nests are checked on every night at regular intervals to ensure they have not been predated and to work with hatchlings, a sample of which are measured and weighed prior to release.
Excavation provides data that allows us to gauge the success of the nest and often to unearth some hatchlings that may not have survived otherwise. Excavations are undertaken during early morning or late afternoon. Certain nests are excavated publicly with tourists and locals. At these public events we also raise funds through donations to finance the continuation of the project.
A release is an educational public event where a number of members of the public can release hatchling turtles under the supervision of the volunteers, on the beach, shortly after dark. These are very popular events and are excellent at raising the profile of turtle conservation, particularly with children, who may be allowed to name, hold and release a hatchling, which is an unforgettable experience.
From Alagadi, Karpaz and the West Coast base groups of up to four volunteers patrol set beaches every morning, starting at sunrise. Depending on how much activity is encountered a typical day can be as short as 4 hours or much longer, perhaps returning to base close to night-fall. Much ground is covered during this work and volunteers are rotated each week so that most volunteers get to experience all aspects of turtle conservation. During day work nests are located and screened to reduce predation rates and later are excavated to analyse success and to release any remaining hatchlings.