Sea turtle sex is not determined at the time of fertilization like in humans, it is set by the temperature level during nest incubation. Recently for some small island rookeries througout the Caribbean researchers reported a shift towards a more female dominated hatchlings/populations as nest temperatures slightly increased in these areas (warmer beaches result in female turtles). At St. Eustatius we will further asses the driving factors of sand temperatures in natural nest and experimental treatments, link it to nest succes, and compare these with that of other Caribbean islands and beyond. Fionne Kiggen (Wageningen University) will spend the fieldwork of her masters project on this experiment, and also on turtle nest monitoring being embedded as an “turtle intern” at STENAPA.  We are happy to cooperate on this project with Nicole Esteban (sea turtle researcher Swansea university, and former STENAPA manager), Jessica Berkel and Graeme Hays (Deakin University). See below for some pictures.

Fionne is temporarily removing a core of sand to place a temperature logger

Fionne is temporarily removing a core of sand to place a temperature logger

Zeelandia beach: narrow at and eroding cliffs at some places.

Zeelandia beach: narrow at and eroding cliffs at some places.

Idske and Fionne are measuring the slope of Zeelandia beach and compare dynamics in time

Idske and Fionne are measuring the slope of Zeelandia beach and compare dynamics in time

Temperature logger, ready to be buried.

Temperature logger, ready to be buried.

Vegetation provides shading to some parts of the beach

Vegetation provides shading to some parts of the beach

20160817MC123050 - Version 2

Comparison between the Atlantic Windward (right) side and the Caribbean Leeward (left)left side of the island. Photo taken from the panoramic viewpoint on top of the "Quill" (rim of the dormant volcano)

Comparison between the Atlantic Windward (right) side and the Caribbean Leeward (left)left side of the island. Photo taken from the panoramic viewpoint on top of the “Quill” (rim of the dormant volcano)

Turtle nests that are expected to be washed away after beach erosion are translocated to higher grounds closely.

Turtle nests that are expected to be washed away after beach erosion are translocated to higher grounds closely.

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http://penyu.nl/2016/08/10/all-females-experimental-nest-temperature-assessments-will-show/

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