Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Serving the CNMI for 34 years

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Sea turtle sends satellite feedback from Helen Reef
By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.
Horizon News staff

A green sea turtle from Helen Island has been sending feedback through a satellite transmitter to the National Marine Turtle Conservation and Monitoring Program (MTCMP) under the Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR).

William Andrew, Senior Conservation Officer at the Helen Reef Project mounted the transmitter satellite at the carapace of the green turtle named Hocharihi last week. Andrew successfully intercepted the turtle after she finished laying her eggs.

MTCMP Coordinator Joshua Eberdong has received two updates on the position of the turtle as she swims around Helen Reef, where the sea turtles create hundreds of nests.

Report also revealed that nearly every night during the peak nesting season, several turtles crawl onto the beaches of Helen Reef to deposit between one and 187 eggs in a nest.

The MTMCP suspected that green turtles migrate hundreds or thousands of miles across the Pacific to lay their eggs in Palau. "Tracking this turtle’s migration with a satellite transmitter will show how fast and how far Hocharihi moves," the MTMCP said. It said that satellite tracking would add to the database of information that the national turtle office is compiling.

Through the help of dedicated conservation officers, particularly on Helen Reef, Merir, and Kayangel, over 1,200 nests have been surveyed in Palau since 2003 and 223 turtles have been tagged. The MTMCP is looking forward to putting two more satellite transmitters on sea turtles. Eberdong would be traveling to Helen Reef this month to participate in mounting another transmitter.

In order for the public to fully understand the importance of sea turtles to humankind, the MTCMP wants to share excerpts from a book by Carl Safina entitled "Voyage of the Turtle, In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur." Safina has been to Palau several times to conduct research on turtles for this book."There exists a presence in the ocean, seldom glimpsed in waking hours, best envisioned in your dreams. While you drift in sleep, turtles, ride the curve of the deep, seeking their inspiration from the sky. From tranquil tropic bays or nightmare maelstroms hissing foam, they come unseen to share our air. Each sharp exhalation affirms, "Life yet endures." Each inhaled gasp vows, "Life will continue." With each breath they declare to the stars and wild silence. By night and by lights, sea turtles glide always, their parallel universe strangely alien, yet intertwining with ours," Safina noted in the book.

The MTCMP also quoted the book as saying that "Riding the churning ocean’s turning tides and resisting no urge, they move, motivated neither by longing nor love nor reason, but tuned by a wisdom more ancient—so perhaps more trustworthy—than thought. Through jewel-hued sultry blue lagoons, through waters wild and green and cold, stroke these angels of the deep—ancient, ageless, great-grandparents of the world."