Nesting Season, early again!
The Blue Iguana nesting season got underway on the weekend 16-17th May, just ahead of this summer’s first heavy rains, and a full month ahead of what used to be the normal schedule. We now have 56 eggs incubating from six different nests, with more on the way, and we are still only at the end of May!
Up until last year, the majority of our Blue Iguanas mated in early to mid May, and laid their eggs in mid to late June. The pattern shifted suddenly last year, with the majority of our iguanas mating and nesting a month earlier. Colleagues working in Little Cayman and Jamaica saw a similar shift in their iguana breeding times, too. Now here in Grand Cayman at least, last year’s pattern is repeating itself. Is this a long term shift, or will it switch back again at some time in the future? What determines the month Blue Iguanas start to breed, anyway? At this point, we simply don’t know.
Our eggs are coming both from our captive breeding facility, where the mates are carefully managed for optimum genetics, and also from free roaming released Blues living in the QE II Botanic Park. Our most exciting nest so far is from Vega$, a new addition to our captive breeding stock last year. This is the first year she has given us viable eggs, which we hope will add a new family line, to diversity the young that we will be releasing to the wild.
We have a dedicated and energetic volunteer team helping Blue Iguana Wardens John and Ricky monitor and excavate the nests. Local volunteer Alberto Estovanovich has been helping almost full time at the captive facility, for several months now. Team Blue international volunteers Carlos Uribe and Zach Freidell are also with us, and a third is due to arrive on 31st May.
When these eggs hatch, and as we gear up towards releasing iguanas into a new protected area in late 2010 or 2011, the captive facility is set to be holding more young Blue Iguanas than at any time in its history so far!