Vol­un­teers to keep watch over tur­tle egg nest for one more week

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

Na­ture Trust Malta Pres­i­dent Vince At­tard told The Malta In­de­pen­dent that the tur­tle nest at Golden Bay will con­tinue to be ob­served un­til Wed­nes­day 5 Oc­to­ber, in case there are more eggs to hatch.

Af­ter that, he said, he will ini­ti­ate dis­cus­sions with the en­vi­ron­ment au­thor­ity to seek per­mis­sion to dig up the nest, and “check whether there were any eggs that did not hatch, and why, for data pur­poses”.

Mr At­tard said that eggs usu­ally hatch be­tween two to three days of each other.

Over 60 sea tur­tles hatched in­side their nest at Għajn Tuffieħa early yes­ter­day morn­ing and made their way to the sea, to the de­light of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists who had been watch­ing over the eggs for sev­eral weeks.

There were con­cerns over the past few days as it was thought that storm weather and noisy ac­tiv­i­ties in the vicin­ity could af­fect the tur­tles but all seemed to be nor­mal as the lit­tle tur­tles sprouted from the sand dur­ing the night.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists made sure that light­ing in the area was re­duced as much as pos­si­ble as move­ment in the nest was first de­tected at around 2am. They also used in­fra-red lights to guide the tur­tles into the sea, see­ing that there was no moon­light last night.

Vol­un­teers had been stand­ing watch around the nest, which was pro­tected by bar­ri­ers and sand bags, ever since the mother tur­tle laid her eggs at the be­gin­ning of Au­gust.

Log­ger­head tur­tles are clas­si­fied as en­dan­gered. More tur­tles could hatch in the next few days and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists will be keep­ing watch.

Mr At­tard wrote on Face­book: “A big well done to all vol­un­teers who gave their free time to guard the nest round the clock. All sac­ri­fices have fi­nally given us ex­cel­lent re­sults. Thank you all for all your help and time. We will keep mon­i­tor­ing the nest for a few more days now. This won­der­ful day is thanks to you all who faced heat and rain to make sure the nest was al­ways safe – from rats, other preda­tors, dan­gers, etc. Thanks goes to Karen for the hard work in keep­ing the timetable and shifts in place. We had the ups and downs but we made it – Malta has a suc­cess­ful tur­tle hatch­ing 2016 Thanks all – Vince.”

In a state­ment, the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­sources Au­thor­ity said that at about 4.10am, when it was thought that the hatch­ing episode was over, a last hatch­ling that had just emerged was no­ticed mak­ing its way to sea. “The en­tire oper­a­tion con­tin­ued till about 4.20am, af­ter which a thor­ough check was made around the bay to check for any stranded hatch­lings, but none were found”.

“It is hoped that a good num­ber of these tur­tles reach adult­hood and will even­tu­ally re­turn back to Malta for other nest­ing episodes in an­other 25-30 years”.

The ERA thanked all in­volved, es­pe­cially the Min­istry for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change, Trans­port Malta, the Malta Tourism Au­thor­ity, the Malta Po­lice Force, Ene­malta and the Cleans­ing Depart­ment, Na­ture Trust and Ma­jjis­tral Park and other vol­un­teers, and all the es­tab­lish­ments who co­op­er­ated fully to en­sure the suc­cess of this event.

Pho­to­graphs: Chris G for Na­ture Trust Malta

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