I was awake at 2am and didn’t go back to sleep before it was time for my turtle patrol at 3am. H and I were just leaving camp when one of the staff came over and said that there’s a turtle on the other beach and we should go straight there while she went to wake everyone else up. When we got there S was sitting nearby and the turtle was digging her nest. He said that the turtle had come out of the water around 2am and had checked out a few locations nearby before starting to dig.
Before, and until, she has laid the eggs, she mustn’t be disturbed but afterwards she is on autopilot and isn’t disturbed by people around her when she’s covering the nest. Turtles are disturbed by white light but not red light so everyone uses red torches and that’s the reason for the strange lighting of the photo. This was taken after she’d laid her eggs and while she was covering the nest.
The beach at Turtle Bay where the camp is located, is secure because there are always people around. The other beach where the turtle laid her eggs isn’t secure. Nests there are at risk of egg poaching. Poachers can earn a lot of money over the course of a breeding season. The only way to safeguard those eggs is to relocate the nests to Turtle Bay. S carefully dug a tunnel into the egg chamber. He had to make sure not to touch the turtle or she would immediately leave and probably lay the eggs in the sea and they’d die. As the turtle laid the eggs, he removed them and put them carefully in a bucket to be taken back to Turtle Bay and buried in a safe nest.
As it had been H and my patrol when the turtle laid her eggs, it was our job to stay with her until she had camouflaged the nest and gone back to the sea. Several others also wanted to stay so there were five of us sitting nearby, watching the turtle sweep sand with her flippers to cover her nest.
It was at least an hour before the turtle was satisfied with the nest camouflaging and left. She disappeared into the sea at 5.10am. She should be back in another 10-12 days to lay more eggs. We walked back to camp and went back to bed.
(If the connection is strong enough to load it, there may be another shot in the extras.)