Friday, July 22, 2016

Howdy from Costa Rica

Howdy all,
In honor of the end of our first round of field sampling, I thought it was appropriate to give an update.

Olive ridley sea turtles mating near Ostional Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 

We had four boat days this week in which we captured sea turtle couples following mating. This project has been my first opportunity to work with sea turtles on a boat and I might be addicted! For someone who has primarily worked on nesting beaches, sea turtle rehabilitation hospitals and the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plan for my master's work, it is definitely an awesome experience to see the turtles in their element. We were very excited to see mating turtles in the water and have a chance to ultrasound the female to see if she had eggs and/or developing follicles while also getting an indication of overall health. What's exciting about this study from a physiology standpoint is that we hope to recapture five of our sampled females that we attached radiotransmitters to. This means that hopefully we can follow the reproductive cycle of a given female over the course of the season! If we're lucky we may even try to capture the females in the water as well as during nesting. We will keep you posted on how this effort goes!

Brie restraining an olive ridley female while glue surrounding the radiotransmitter dries. 

We are planning a trip to San Jose for later this week to do some paperwork and other less-exciting parts of fieldwork like dropping off samples we've collected to our collaborators that the Universidad de Costa Rica. We hope to do a couple of fun things while there since it's the first time in Costa Rica for myself as well as our two stupendous field assistants. They have worked so hard helping us with prepping equipment and cleaning up afterwards and we want to make sure that they also have fun while they're here.

As far as my personal experience here in Costa Rica goes, my efforts to improve my language skills have been, at times, frustrating but are definitely paying off. Little by little, a few words or a conversation at a time, I hope to see a difference!

This field season has been a dream come true, and there is still so much more to come as we transition into nesting beach sampling. We await the arribada which should come at the end of the month! Check back for updates!

P.S. All work conducted under federal permits and IACUC approval.