MONITORING THE TURTLES

Bourail is the second largest turtle spawning site in the South Pacific.

The beaches of Bourail (La Roche Percée and Baie des Tortues) are the first spawning site for large-headed turtles (Caretta caretta) in New Caledonia, and the second site in the South Pacific. The first location is at Mon Repos (Bundaberg), Australia. Marine turtles frequented these beaches long before the arrival of humans, but since then, many disturbances that have become permanent have caused their gradual disappearance. It was time to react! In 2006, a few local residents, moved by this alarming situation, decided to create the Bwärä Marine Turtles Association. They were trained by Australian scientists.

Some annual statistics…

turtles

nests

eggs

babies

Teams now operate on the beaches morning and evening during the egg laying and emergency season, looking after the tranquillity of the females and babies.

It is also the time for eco-guards to collect valuable information on these animals about which so little is known.
They take advantage of the females’ beach climb to collect information that will serve as clues to understand their population. Each climb trace (whether it is an attempt, a simple round trip, or an egg laying) is carefully noted and geo-located. The same goes for emerging babies.

Once the egg laying is done slowly, the adult turtles are tagged and recorded in our database. We are then able to recognize them when they come back! We also measure the carapace of each animal.

This meticulous work has been carried out for 10 years. It led to the publication of a scientific report in June 2015, thanks to the collection of 8 years of data.