Category Archives: KESCOM

Monitoring turtle nesting beaches – GVI Placement

I am currently a GVI conservation intern working for one of our partners Bureni Turtle Watch (a group formed under KESCOM) in Vipingo, Mombasa. Kirsty, the Marine Officer, and I have been working on perfecting this placement for some time making preparations for the future interns who will be placed here. Fortunately I have been given the privilege of working with BTW along with another intern for the next few weeks. We have many objectives and goals for this expedition, one of which is to assist a turtle nest hatching and to translocate eggs. We never thought we would get to experience both, never mind on our second day here!

 

On Tuesday we visited another area of Vipingo called Mwanamia. This area of beach is becoming popular with turtles and the local people are finding more and more nests. At this time the local people are very interested in turtles and conserving them but are unsure what to do, so for the meantime BTW are offering their full support and training

When we arrived, they showed us a nest that had already hatched. We sifted through the sand looking for the empty shells to count but suddenly we something dark and very much alive! Deep in the hole was one male baby Green turtle left behind struggling to get free! It was very overcast that day so we decided to help the turtle to freedom and lifted it onto the surface. Immediately it started to make its way to the ocean and finally made it into the rough water!

A late Green Turtle hatchling is found in one of the nests

A late Green Turtle hatchling is found in one of the nests

Once we recorded the number the shells and the undeveloped eggs, we moved on to a new nest that was just too close to the tide line thus would get flooded at high tide. In order to ensure the survival of these turtles, we decided to translocate them to a safer nest. So under the dark clouds, we filled a bucket with some sand from inside the nest and gently lifted all 139 eggs into the bucket and then very gently placed them into the alternative nest above the tide line. We filled the hole with sand and then cleared the area so the nest was completely hidden. We hope and pray all 139 hatches safely – only 45-60 days to wait!

 This week we are expecting one of our turtles to return to our beach and once again lay her eggs. Turtles lay under moonlight at high tide so think of us at 4am whilst you are still cozy in your bed! Fingers crossed we get to experience this amazing event!

 Come back and check for our update!

An unexpected hatching

On Monday, representatives from GVI and KESCOM met to work together to  create a new structure to the current placement programme, introducing both conservation and community development aspects, and to formulate key aims for the next 3 months. We started the day by driving up to Vipingo, just north of Mombasa, to meet with the members of the Turtle Conservation Group (TCG) at Bureni, who currently manage a private section of the Kenyan coast, and potentially perfect nesting beaches for Green and Hawksbill turtles. We met with Charles and Nicola, the most active members of Bureni Turtle Group and discussed both the groups and KESCOM’s goals and how GVIs trained interns could help support them on the ground.

A tiny hatchling emerges from the nest to start it's epic journey

A tiny hatchling emerges from the nest to start it's epic journey

 

After a successful, productive meeting, Charles led us to a critical nesting beach to show us different nesting zones as well as the current nests residing there – they have had 69 Green Turtle nests so far this year. He pointed out a particular nest that had hatched a few days earlier, with a few eggs remaining. He decided to carefully dig to see if they had finally hatched and made their way to the ocean or if they had failed to hatch altogether. He started clearing the sand away to suddenly discover two baby turtles hatched and ready to leave home! Due to the weather being so overcast, Charles decided to give them a helping hand and lifted them out of the nest and onto the beach. Almost immediately they both started frantically heading towards the ocean and not long after entered the water where they started swimming for the first time! As they popped their heads up to take their first breathe we realised this was an experience none of us would forget and a representation of the steps forward being made to protect turtles within Kenya.

Two turtle hatchlings successfully make it to the ocean

Two turtle hatchlings successfully make it to the ocean