Research enables us to have a science-based approach to conservation, which needs constant facts about status and trends.
As part of our research, we monitor nests and nesting activities. We record data about the resident turtles as well as observe any changes in their locations. We also collect data on incidents, strandings and clean-up activities. Also, we record the hooking and entanglement incidents, to monitor any changes.
We monitor the number of nests found around Curaçao. In 2019 we have observed fewer nests than in 2018. The decline of the nests is worrisome. Based on the data collected over the last 5 years we are able to confirm this pattern of decline. The monitoring of the beaches is carried out in four different shifts. More nests were found in the Bandabao region. Additional volunteer monitoring is a factor that may contribute to this increased number of nests. Due to the weather conditions we lost 3 of the nests, they were washed out by high water.
In-water projects include monitoring activities that help us to observe any changes in trends of sea turtle lives.
Snorkel surveys are carried out to observe the health of sea turtles. The main reason for this focus was the risk of tumours and the large number of rescues in the past. The surveys are mainly executed at Klein Curacao, Playa Piskador, Daaibooibaai and Caracasbaai.
Because the facial patterns of the turtles are unique, it is now also possible to capture the individuals of a larger population with new techniques, such as facial recognition, without invasive actions (capture and tagging). Photo ID is a cost-effective, non-invasive and easy technique that can easily be used to track turtles without disturbing them. It is a great way to engage citizen scientists, which are certain people from the general public with little to no scientific training. Curacao is particularly suitable for a citizen scientist data collection program pilot, given the number of tourists who visit the country specifically to dive, snorkel and view turtles. Photo ID can be used as a “capture-mark-recapture” method.
In 2019, three of our interns focused on this task: Nicky Peijen, Amber Bembom and Isa van Mourik.
In our gallery, you can see some of our resident turtles that are identified using Photo ID.