Nearly full...
Turtle season

Magical moments on the beach

Hey… it’s been quite some time. But the good news is: It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to tell. I haven’t written for so long because I just couldn’t find the time and tranquility as we’ve been so overwhelmed by this years’ turtle season. Here are all the details:

The official MEMANTA hatchery is up

After two years working with a provisional hatchery that we had built close to our house, about 200 metres away from the beachfront, the time had finally come: We built a permanent, fully-closed hatchery closer to the beach that holds space for around 50 nests at a time. The hatchery is fully secured against human intruders and all kinds of animals. Also, it is shaded in order to secure favourable temperatures and avoid a female-biased sex ratio (climate change and stuff…).

Unfortunately, the hatchery soon resulted too small. Especially in late September, our hatchery became super crowded as the older nests hadn’t hatched yet while more and more were coming in! Also, we had started putting some nests in the ground, as hatcheries “usually” do it. The thing is that in this case, you have to space out the nests more (the rule of thumb says 1m) so that bacteria etc. from one nest can’t spread to the others. With bag hatcheries, you don’t have that issue and can put the bags real close to each other.

We found that the hatching success is roughly the same for both methods, but bag hatcheries do create more waste and the nests take longer to hatch as they cool down quite a bit during the night. Next season, we would like to keep working with both methods – some nests we’ll put in our iconic red bags and some we’ll put in the ground.
Needless to say… we’ll then have to double the size of our hatchery!

Continue reading “Magical moments on the beach”
Turtle season

Happy lonely times

Timing couldn’t have been more unfortunate when a global crisis halted international travel for many months to come, just about when we were opening our doors.

But I’m not going to cry to you about the severe state we’re all in – I’m here to tell you all the good news that happened this year. Because despite the pandemic, things were going great for us at MEMANTA as we simply kept doing what we love the most.

We collaborated with more people and protected more nests:

This year we collaborated with four young men from the community who would fill our hatchery with nests that weren’t safe on the beach. Those guys are good friends with Melvin and work regularly for us, so there’s a lot of trust involved. They would come up to our house, wake us up in the middle of the night and help to rebury the eggs. However, we also received some nests from random people from the community, which made us especially happy because it shows that there are quite a few guys out there who want to support us.

All in all, we were able to relocate 70 nests during the 2020/2021 season! That’s a total of 7040 eggs – mostly from the Olive Ridley turtle, but also from the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill turtle. It’s a huge increase from last year with only 22 nests.

Continue reading “Happy lonely times”
nighttime action
Turtle season

Hundreds of turtles – Zero volunteers

A really slow start

When we started our publicity for this years’ volunteer program and received the first messages in February, noone thought that one single person eating a wild animal in China would change the world so dramatically… and maybe forever.

We actually had our first volunteer reservations for June and August when the borders around the world started to close and it got impossible to travel. We even received inquiries when there was a first recovery evident in Europe, but Central America to this date remains closed to conventional tourism and the airlines keep cancelling and postponing their flights.

So we gave up all our hopes for this year.

Our establishments are ready for use, but for now we’re trying to maintain them and keep them fresh-looking for a time when people will be able to travel again.

Continue reading “Hundreds of turtles – Zero volunteers”
Preparation & Construction

Ain’t no time to take a break

We’ve got some eventful months behind us!

  • We released the last hatchlings into the sea and got a pretty good success rate
  • We’ve had our first visitors testing the camping area and leaving mesmerized
  • We started the construction of our volunteer cabin
  • We discovered some new destinations for future adventure trips
  • I received my permanent residency for Nicaragua

So here are all the details:

 

MEMANTAs first hatchery season is over

I think we can be very proud of our 84% hatching success, given that anything above 70% is considered good for a hatchery and anything above 90% is rarely seen (but of course not impossible).
Even under natural conditions, IF the nests remain totally undisturbed by humans or predators, the success rates can result quite low – this can be due to varying factors like
the health of the mother turtle, unfavourable temperatures, weather extremes, inundation and erosion etc.
Given the fact that all nests on our beach get poached, it is totally necessary to transfer them into an enclosed hatchery. And even when it seems that we failed sometimes – our first nest had only a 50% success rate and another one had a very high hatchling mortality – we can be happy about every single turtle that made its way to the sea.
I don’t think I exaggerate if I say:
Playa Venecia has seen its first baby turtles in decades!

Continue reading “Ain’t no time to take a break”

Preparation & Construction

Close to the finish line

I know, I know… it’s been way too long since I wrote the last update. But here it is finally, covering everything that has happened between July and October:

 

A BEACH FULL OF TURTLES, AND EVEN FULLER OF PEOPLE

I don’t like to refer to those people as poachers, because poaching sounds like something really bad. And of course, those guys who take the nests from the beach are doing something bad – they are basically killing wildlife. But for most of them it is their only way to survive, the only source of income.
Familys here tend to have up to eight children. Mothers are busy with household chores while the men are trying to feed them all. But how do you manage to do that when there’s no work? We’re in a very remote place where cattle grazing, fishing and growing crops are the only opportunities. But not everyone has enough land, or a boat, to do so – and let’s just remember that these activities also create environmental problems.
So all they can do is take advantage of the natural resources that are readily available.
Of course the local families also eat some eggs themselves, but mostly they sell them to middlemen who then sell the eggs to the markets in the bigger cities. It’s a huge business.

One nest can be worth 20 US-Dollars. That’s a big amount of money in a country where people earn 10 Dollars for a whole day of hard work. So it’s quite tempting to go and look for turtle nests.

Continue reading “Close to the finish line”