HEAD START PROGRAM
A head start program is when a selection of hatchling turtles are not immediately released when the emerge from their nests. They are kept in a nursery to be reared in a controlled environment, until they are large and strong enough to be released into the wild.
Research state less the 1 in every 1000 hatchlings born will survive to breeding age, and the greatest mortality happens within the first 72 hours after emerging from the nest
Where possible, CICI releases evry strong healthy hatchling into the wild when they emerge from the nest. The turtles that are kept in our care are the ones that would of otherwise, not made it out the nest chamber, down the beach or off into the sea. We keep the deformed, injured, weak or runts as part of our head start program, rehabilitating them so they have a chance in life.
Head Starting shows promise as a strategy for circumventing high nest and hatchling mortality and head‐starts were successfully recruited as reproductive adults.
WE DO IT
after performing a series of fitness tests on the hatchlings immediately after they emerge, and selecting any that are weak, sick, slow, injured or deformed that are brought back to our Turtle Nursery. They are then kept in a series of salt water tanks of 32,000lts each.
They are closely monitored to track growth, health and a re clean and fed daily. We also use enrichment techniques to help them learn natural behaviors. They then need to pass a fittness test before they can be released.
This sea pen allows the turtles the further acclimate to for a life in the wild and acts as a soft release or holding area before they are released.