Blue Iguana Recovery Program

Final preparations underway to assess Salina restored Blue Iguana population

Mar 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Featured article

Last December’s sixth annual release of young Blue Iguanas brought the total we have released into the Salina Reserve on Grand Cayman, over the 300 mark.

It is time now to take a detailed look at how all those iguanas are doing. We know they started breeding in the wild in 2006, but how successful has natural breeding been in raising the total wild population even further? Now that we have placed permanent artificial retreats of a wide range of sizes throughout the core release area, what effect has that had on the population density within the protected area? How many of the iguanas have dispersed out of the release area, and how far have they moved? These sorts of questions need some answers, if we are ever to be able to answer the really important question which we should never take for granted. Is our release strategy actually working?

Field gear in preparation for Salina Blues survey

So we are in the final stages of preparation for a major three-week survey, which kicks off on 2nd March 2010. Matt Goetz and Stacy Whittaker joined us on 27th February, with Joe Freeman and Carly Easby following the next day. Megan Rasmussen and Crystal Robertson are on their way as I write on 28th February, and Doug Bell has already been with us for several weeks.

We’ll be forming three survey teams and one “catch-and-tag” team. The survey teams will be stealthily walking every trail in the Salina Reserve, scanning intensely for iguana sightings twice a day six days a week over three weeks, for a total of 18 survey days and 108 individual survey walks. The catch-and-tag team will back them up with focused attention on any un-tagged or elusive iguanas which the survey teams can’t indentify as they pass.

If all goes smoothly, we will complete the survey before the end of March. Then the survey teams head back home, and the number crunching and mapping work begins. By early May the results should be clear enough to guide us in our next big endeavor of the year – the first iguana release into our new Blue Iguana Reserve!

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