We were up late last night. Inspire is within a few kilometers of land, deep in Bahia de Samana, a bay on the northeast side of Dominican Republic. Maybe, just maybe, she’s heading in to nest.
“It’s still early in the nesting season,” says Canadian sea turtle expert, Dr. Mike James. “But the fact that she has come in this close to shore in a known nesting region for the turtles is certainly encouraging. That isn’t usually what females do unless they are about to nest. We’ll see.”
We have not had a Canadian turtle nest in Dominican Republic before. The sea turtle community is incredibly supportive and helpful. So, we contacted our friend and colleague Carlos Diez, who is the country coordinator for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) in Puerto Rico, which is near Dominican Republic. Carlos put us in contact with his WIDECAST counterpart in Dominican Republic, Dr. Yolanda León. Yolanda connected us with Peter Sánchez, who directs the marine sanctuary in that area of the country.
“We often see leatherbacks on the whale watch trips, which are on-going now. However, most of the nesting activity we’ve recorded there has been on the north of the peninsula. So interesting!” Yolanda wrote.
Peter Sanchez and his crew are now on alert. We’ve sent them maps and photographs and are hoping that if Inspire heads onshore, they’ll be able to find her and remove her satellite tag. Dominican Republic is a tricky place for sea turtles. It has high rates of poaching—sea turtles harvested for meat (and hard-shelled turtles for their shells), and sea turtle eggs harvested in large numbers. Peter’s team will be key to helping protect Inspire.
We’re holding our breath and checking our computers and will keep you posted.