The CAVU/Sea Turtle Conservancy Turtle Survey Team just returned from a multi-day leatherback sea turtle nesting census. Covering the Atlantic coastline from the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border to Colon, Panama, STC researchers were able to locate, count and photo-document Leatherback nests. While flying above the coastline, nesting areas are easily distinguishable by their unique crawls in the sand (as shown in the images left and below). The sections of coastline being surveyed are marked with GPS waypoints, which makes comparing year to year data easy. When a nesting location was noted by the counters, a GPS embedded image was captured to cross reference the sighting. Having a complimentary photo record is a very useful tool to verify the observers remarks.
Preliminary population numbers were recorded, with one critical beach, Chiriqui, showing more than 700 visible nesting sites. The latest survey was an expanded version of the mission carried out in 2013. The team consisted of Dr. Emma Harrison and Cristina Ordoñez of STC and Capt. Alex Cavaletti and photographer Sean Davis of CAVU. More details will be added soon!