Hello, my name is Mr. Hill. Please join me as I travel to Costa Rica to study sea turtles!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Day Two: Later That Afternoon

Just a bit about the nest excavation. 66 days ago a nest containing approximately 95 eggs was relocated to the hatchery because the nest was below the high-tide line. (If the nest isn't above the high-tide line, water will cover it, and the eggs won't receive either the oxygen from or the heat from the sun they need in order to hatch.) Two days ago (the day before we arrived), approximately 50-55 of those eggs hatched, and the hatchlings were then transported from the hatchery to the water. Two days more were given for the rest of the eggs to hatch; none did, so today we excavated the nest.
During the excavation, we removed the shells from the unhatched eggs as well as the shells from the hatched eggs and sorted them into three groupings: hatched eggs; unhatched eggs; and SAGs (Shelled Albumen Globule: 'extra', yolk-less eggs the turtles lay presumably to keep the air circulating among the 'real', yolk-filled eggs in the nest). We then transported all of the eggs close to the water and dug a deep hole next to the eggs. One of the biologists then counted both the SAGs and the hatched eggs and recorded that data in the log book. She put all of those shells into the hole. She then went to work on the unhatched eggs. Opening each of the unhatched shells, she looked at what was inside and grouped the eggs into four categories depending on how long into the growth process what she found inside was. Once that data was recorded, she placed all of those eggs into the hole and filled in the hole with sand -- she told us that the waves would eventually take these eggs out to sea.

We had quite a crowd around us as we worked through this process: lots of people who were spending time on the beach. I'm sure had I been one of thise beach people, I would have watched us, too -- it was a genuinely fascinating process to be part of.

I gather we may be relocating a nest tomorrow or the next day. Out tonight at 10:15, then back in six hours later. Time for a quick nap!


  1. Dear Mr. Hill,

    Do leatherbacks live in the USA at all?

    Thank you!

    James from 3Z Water

  2. 4M Stars in ScienceFebruary 1, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Hi, Mr. Hill.

    We are so excited about your trip. We have an important question:

    How do female turtles find their way back to the beach where they were born?

    4M Stars