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Previous entry: Area de incubacion - tortugas marinas

Tuesday, 20 July 2004
granja de la tortuga

Cuba Cayo Largo turtle farm

The “turtle farm” on Cayo Largo is situated near the marina, and one day we hired a jeep and paid it a visit.  We met this man working there, who doesn’t speak English, but explained the work of the farm to us in Spanish. As we don’t understand Spanish the conversations were very long and animated. We ended up speaking French to him, and he may or may not have understood this better.

He explained that the farm is linked to a University in Havana, and they come and do studies here. The turtle eggs hatch after about 2 months after they have been laid, just after dawn.  The sex of the turtles is determined by the temperature at which they incubate. A higher temperature of incubation apparently favours females and a lower temperature favours males. (This would be determined not only by the climate, but by the depth of the hole that their mother has dug in the sand, and whether the eggs are at the bottom or the top of the nest). After hatching they head straight towards the sea. Here they are vulnerable to birds, and other predators. So he gathers them up and puts them into large tanks of sea water on the farm. He feeds them jellyfish, and protects them for a further 3 months as they swim round and round the tanks until they are too large to be eaten by the birds. He then releases them into the ocean. He suggested that only one turtle out of every 1000 will reach maturity and return to lay eggs on the island. The conservationists are trying to raise the odds in favour of the turtles, but it is a long-term project.

I noticed that when we left the farm we argued among ourselves about some of the facts that the conservationist had given us.  For example we had some confusion about how often the females return to the nesting grounds, and how old they are when they return to lay their first batch of eggs.  Nevertheless, I think I have summarised the above points accurately.

Posted by bigblue on 20/07/2004 at 12:32 PM
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