Hello again. We are sad to be writing with more bad news so soon! This is a story about another night on patrol.
So when we leave on patrol in the wee morning hours, the first decision is ‘Which way do we turn?” Left toward Barra de Potosí or right toward Playa Larga. Some of us alternate, some always start with the same direction, some of us go on a hunch or a feeling. My partner and I go by hunch, the beach usually calls in one direction or the other.
Last night it called us in both directions. We were torn, but decided to turn left toward the scene of the kidnapping of Senora Tortuga 2 nights ago. We didn’t get very far and we saw some dogs run off down by the ocean. Then we saw a long set of tracks ending where the dogs were. They had begun digging up the nest, but apparently we got there just in time. There were about a dozen broken eggs in and around the nest, but the remainder of the nest was intact with 74 eggs that we rescued. Yay for us! We went the right way.
The rest of the way to Barra de Potosi and back was fairly uneventful. There were two turtles who crawled around on the beach, but did not lay eggs. One started to nest in a few places, but then moved on. We could see many dog paw prints so we figured the dogs scared her off.
We moved on to Playa Larga and after a short time saw a set of tracks, which we followed all the way up to the dune, which is a pretty long way on that end of our beach. We got there, and followed the tracks to, again, several places where she started to dig. Then we saw her tracks going back toward the water, and OH NO! There were TONS of dog prints covering her tracks. We could tell they were behind her, beside her, all around her as she tried to escape. So we followed the trail of dog prints. When we got closer to the shore, we could see what we most feared. The dogs had killed her. Her tail was mostly gone, the back of her shell partially broken off, her back end torn apart, and her flippers, neck and face bitten. They savaged her so badly that bloody eggs from inside her were laying on the beach around her.
Now we know why we were being pulled in both directions…we saved a nest of eggs, but lost a mama turtle.
After documenting and measuring the poor girl, we did what we had to do and continued on patrol. We found one more set of tracks where dogs had chased the turtle off. These dogs came out to greet us as we explored. One had a collar and they appeared to be well fed. So while they chased her off, thankfully, they were not looking for food.
After our last blog post about the kidnapping two days ago, someone commented that we “should have patrols on rotation day and night”. Wouldn’t we love to have the resources to do that??? In reality the night time is what we need covered, since that is when our ladies come out to nest. Ideally, we would like to have two patrols on each night – one going south, the other going north, each on their own ATV. With two patrols, we would be able to have them patrol each side of the beach not once, but twice (or more in peak season). This would make us much more likely to chase off predators – human and canine.
Why don’t we just that, then? Well, limitation of resources is the only answer. Running a patrol takes two precious resources, which we do not have an abundance of…money for ATV gas and maintenance(this environment sure is hard on a vehicle!), and volunteers to drive those ATV’s!
If you agree that this seems like a good idea, will you please consider donating to support this effort?
Or maybe you would consider joining our great group of patrol volunteers. If you have questions about that, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again for reading, and for supporting our cause!