We arrived at Monte Mare, the villa where the Wildlife Sense volunteers stay, and climbed into the van with the rest of the team. After about 15 minutes on a windy, narrow road, we arrived at Argostoli Harbor.
Our job was to observe and record various behaviors of turtles while walking along the harbor's edge. At first, all we saw were females swimming along, including Phoebe, a harbor resident who was waiting for fishing boats to arrive. We didn't record this because she was just swimming. After our first break we saw a male and female biting and chasing each other. Wildlife Sense wants us to record this information because the turtles act aggressively because they feel like they own their own personal fishing boat. The fishermen often clean their fish in this area and dump the fish heads in the water. All of the interactions we saw this morning were in this area.
|Maud and I on harbor patrol.|
We can tell male turtles because they have very long tails and large curved claws on their front flippers. The males have large claws so they can grip on to the females carapace during mating. Sometimes the males tuck their tales under their shells so it can be difficult to clearly identify the sex. That is why the form we were using has a category for male, female, and "unknown."
|For a close-up of the form see my Kefalonia section on turtle travels.|
Harbor Patrol July 23rd
After meeting the team at Monte Mare and riding in the van for the 15 minute drive, we arrived at Argostoli Harbor. We were walking around the harbor and saw fisherman in their boats throwing fish parts in the water and feeding turtles. This attracts tourists to their boats where they are selling fish. We told our shift leader and took a picture of the boat to be recorded. The fisherman know they are not supposed to do this, but they do it anyway. It makes me mad.
We saw many more interactions this time. Most of them involved the "in situ" turtle swimming along and an intruder coming in to the area. Some times the in situ turtle would bight and chase the intruder away, and other times the intruder chased the in situ turtle away. "In situ" means "in the original place in Latin. This is how the turtle that was there first is recorded on the form.
|Notice the large claw on right front flipper; this is a male.|
|Notice the white spot on her head were her scutes were ripped off. It's Jane!|