We have been continuing our efforts to capture and tag hawksbill turtles from the Georgetown pier during the evenings. Finally, we were rewarded for our efforts when the team managed to recapture the large hawksbill that had been too heavy to lift onto the pier on the previous attempt.
This time, we were better prepared for such a large animal, the biggest hawksbill recorded in Ascension to date, and with the assistance of ropes and a higher tide managed to lift the turtle onto the pier. Sam and Nicola Weber, from Ascension Island Conservation, were able to take measurements and a biopsy for DNA analysis.
[caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="584"] The team of divers manage to bring the turtle alongside the pier where it could be lifted out of the water to be measured.
Sadly, this particular turtle has had a previous encounter with humans and we found a large fish hook embedded in its face. Because the hook exited very close to the orbit of the eye the decision was made to leave the hook in place to rust out, rather than risk further injury to the animal's eye by forcefully extracting the hook.
[caption id="attachment_503" align="aligncenter" width="584"] Sam Weber measuring the carapace length of this very large (for Ascension Island) hawksbill turtle.
Unfortunately the same turtle has been seen on a subsequent night and we noticed that now a plastic bag has become entangled with the hook and may be causing some distress and discomfort to the turtle. If we manage to capture the animal again we'll attempt a removal of the hook. If not, hopefully both the plastic bag and hook will come away in time.
[caption id="attachment_504" align="aligncenter" width="584"] The fish hook can be clearly seen embedded. The turtle's sight appeared unaffected for now and with time, the hook should rust out.