Sunday, April 10, 2016

Eden ....the unlucky turtle!



On Thursday 31st of March, people who worked on a cruise ship found an injured marine turtle around the Eden Island marina. They told us that she was bleeding a lot. The Greenline from the Ministry of Environment were contacted and they called MCSS, to take the role of rehabilitating the turtle.
showing the deep cut on the carapace
trying to keep the wound dry

 The little juvenile Hawksbill turtle was named Eden. For 5 days, he was on antibiotics and he was left in a tank with a damp towel for a couple of days because we had to keep the wound dry. On the 5th day we put epoxy on the scar to prevent water from coming through the carapace. 
sealing the wound
After 6 days in the tank without water, we decided to put Eden in a big tank with fresh water for 2 days (only to kill the algae on his carapace)., then we switched to putting sea water in the tank. He hasn't been eating for the moment, but he seems better...it was decided that another dose of antibiotics was needed  to hopefully limit the risk of infections.
resting  on the rocks
swimming in hiw temporary home

Monday, March 7, 2016

Flowers...wildlife...&...turtle nests!

Another quiet week! We caught a grand total of zero terrapins this week, but several accidental fish, which were immediately released. Whilst exploring the wetlands I did find a beautiful orchid-like vine growing beside the water, we are currently trying to identify it to find out whether it is endemic or invasive. 
Thursday was World Wetland day and we celebrated with some educational tours around the wetland grounds. The highlights included; a tiny moorhen hatchling, a green-backed heron and a rowdy nest of cattle egrets. Bat surveys are also continuing in search of the Seychelles sheath tailed bat, no luck so far.

 On Friday we had some friends Susannah, Felix and Rufus in who volunteered to help us out with the terrapin trapping and patrolling the beaches. It was a very successful day, excavating four nests in total, one of which had a huge clutch size of 180 hatched eggs. 
counting the egg shells

Another of the nests had been laid inside a manmade wooden cave; we were relieved to find that the hatchling turtles had still successfully made it out and to the ocean despite the obstacles! 

Excavating another nest

Rufus and Felix were a great help on such a busy day, excavating the nests, counting up the eggshells, and even inputting the anthropogenic data into the Trimble on our beach patrols!
Rufus inputting data in the Trimble

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Beach profiling week!

This was beach profiling week. I did it with Vanessa and Holly. It was very hot, but we managed to do it fast and well. There was a very big change in the beach compared to one month ago, because of the heavy rain. We found lots of erosion on the beach, and a very big cliffs due to the loss of sand.

Vanessa profiling on Anse Bazarca

Huge erosion cliff on Anse Cachee

Measuring the segments

Otherwise, on Wednesday morning we found a depression at a nest, in Anse Cachée, near the road. It means that this turtle crawled a lot before finding a good place to lay two month ago. Only one baby turtle was still there, we presumed that the others left early morning. In total we had 153 egg shells, one intact rotten and 4 too rotten. When we dug up the nest, we expected to have lots of rotten eggs because the sand was very very wet. However, it was a successful nest because we had 153 eggs shells meaning at least they managed to crawl out and start their adventure in the sea!

Friday morning, Holly and Vanessa, found another depression in Anse Cachée. In the nest, there was still one baby turtle that was in the hole. They found 69 egg shells and 12 eggs rotten and predated. In the nest they found a crab hole. This might explain why there were only 69 hatched eggs as the crabs can sometimes drag the eggs around and predate them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The good and bad side of the rain!

The late comer
Monday 15th February was still an amazing day for me despite the heavy rain. In the morning, I saw a turtle who was covering her nest. She was very big, her carapace length was  84cm and the width was 73cm. Vanessa and I, watched her until she went back to the sea. It was another amazing moment with the turtle. I am so lucky, because in the end of January it is generally the end of the nesting peak season, I never thought we would still be having encounters in mid February!!

The journey begins!
Then, in the beginning of the afternoon we saw a hatching on Anse Intendance. Johnny and Holly (my colleagues) have seen a little depression and when they touched the sand, they could feel some movements. So they began to dig and they found on the top some little turtles. They didn’t want to dig the entire nest, because the baby turtles have to come out alone without help. So we were waiting for maybe 30 minutes, and when the heavy rain came (the temperature outside was now lower than the temperature inside the nest) all the turtles came out of the nest. They were very fast. In total, we had 141 baby turtles. Even though we were very wet (like we go out of the shower) it was a beautiful moment. What an amazing day, a big turtle and lots of baby. What more could you want?

First few hatchlings coming out
Eroded nest
Today, in Anse Corail, we saw a track of a Hawksbill turtle. I think this one was very confused because of all the obstacles and because of the hard ground. She did 5 body pits and she finally laid near a shelter….
We were also sad, because since Monday, in Seychelles, there was
very heavy rain and some flooding, and in Anse Corail 3 nests were destroyed: 2 flooded and one because of the erosion cliff (when we arrived, we found a cliff into the nest… So Vanessa moved 60 eggs away but we are not sure that the turtles will hatch because of all the water and because the eggs were not in the sand anymore….



Friday, February 12, 2016

Lea from France.... the hatchling magnet!!

My name is Léa, and I am from France. I came here on the 13th January to do my internship for my second year of my masters, to study the nesting behaviour process of the hawksbill turtles. I will stay at the office until the middle of June. So now, it will be me who will continue to write the blog.
When I first arrived for the two first weeks I was at the office in Beau Vallon and for the past three weeks I’ve been working in the south as a member of the MCSS’s team.
The 15thof January was such an amazing day for me, I came from Beau Vallon to do the beach patrol and in Anse Corail, Vanessa told me to dig a nest which was due. During the 5 first minutes, I found nothing… but after that, I began to see 3 baby turtles, I was so excited. Vanessa told me that we have to dig up the nest entirely because; he was very far from the sea and completely in the vegetation with lots of roots and obstacles in the nest itself. In total, we put 224 turtles in the sea. We were very lucky because it was a very big nest.

My first day in the south (the 21th January) was just amazing because I saw all the laying process of the Hawksbill turtle. Vanessa and me, stayed with the turtle for 2h30 hours, she was very slow and very tired, but it was a wonderful moment for me. It was the first time I saw a turtle laying, so you can imagine how excited I was!!

On the second week, on Monday and Tuesday, Inga, Laura and I did the beach profiling. It’s only to measure the erosion on the beach. We have to do it, each month in all the 6 mains beaches. It was easy, but it was very long and with the heat it was sometimes hard but we managed to do it very well.
Otherwise, Inga and I were very lucky because on the Sunday 31th of January evening, just after we ate our dinner, the staff called us, because there were hatchlings on the beach near the villa. When we arrived, we found 16 baby turtles near the light, which was in the other direction to the sea. They wanted to cross the road. We know that once on the surface, newborns head to the sea, the brightest spot. But when there are lights, they are more attractive by the light rather than to the sea. So, we managed to be very fast, and didn’t forget any of them (because they were everywhere), so we put all the baby turtles in my bag to release them afterwards into the sea. It was a special moment, and we were very excited. The security guy who was with us, told us, that he already put more than one hundred babies into the sea, because he found them everywhere near the villa. We were very happy to save the life of these cute baby turtles.
Monday 8th February, we were on the patrol and in Anse Corail, Vanessa saw a depression in the sand. When we arrived, we had lots of hatchlings in the hole, and they could not get out because the hole was too deep, so we took all of them out of the hole. In total, we had 63 baby turtles who were still in the hole and in total 137 eggs shells. So lucky to see that!


 





Monday, January 18, 2016

Mary's last update!


Add caption
By now, we are about ¾ of the way through the nesting season, and I thought I would update everyone on how the season is going!  We have had a busy season, with a total of 50 turtle encounters and 191 nests across 14 beaches.  176 nests are on the 6 main nesting beaches in the South of Mahe, with Anse Intendance having the most at 50 nests! Many of the earlier laid nest have hatched (the incubation time for the nests is around 2 months). We dig up as many hatched nests as we possibly can to count the number of egg shells and see the hatching/survival rate of the eggs.  Sometimes, eggs we find in the nest have stopped developing for some reason, likely because the nest was flooded at some point during incubation.  Occasionally, eggs don’t show any sign of development, which means the egg was probably an unfertilized egg when the turtle laid her eggs.
Collecting egg clutch survival data
This week, we had a familiar turtle visitor on Anse Intendance. 
The distinct track of the 3-legged turtle
This season, we’ve had a turtle that is missing her back left flipper nesting on Anse Intendance.  The injury appears very old and well healed. We think she either lost her flipper to a shark bite or from being entangled in a fishing line.  Because of her back stump, she leaves an interesting track mark in the sand when she emerges from the sea, so we have been able to tell when and where she has come up.
Hawksbill turtles lay 4-5 nests in a nesting period, and this is the three-legged turtle's third confirmed nest.  Usually, the turtles will emerge around every 14-20 days to lay a nest during the nesting season (Hawksbill turtle nesting season is October-February). Their reproductive cycle is every 2-3 years, so this turtle will likely return in 2017-2018.
Slowly but surely covering her nest!
Despite missing one of her back flippers that turtles use for digging, the turtle seems to have adjusted well to having only 3 legs and she has become one of our favorite turtles among the turtle patrol team.


Unique photo ID of the 3-legged turtle
This is my last blog post for MCSS, I’ll be leaving Seychelles next week.  I have had an amazing time here working with the sea turtles and amazing and dedicated conservationists! I hope I will come back and see all these turtles again one day!  Until then, Bon voyage!




Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sea Turtles versus Dogs

So ....by now everyone should know that sea turtles are my favorite animals in the whole wide world........ but what some people don't know is that dogs are not at all on my list of favorites!! Recently we have had quite a few incidences (as in my last post) where dogs have been injuring Female sea turtles coming up the beach to nest.......... So I can confirm that Dogs will never make it to my favorite animals list unfortunately.
mostly injured around the 2 front flippers

Yesterday was an upsetting day as we had another Sea turtle versus Dog incident where it sadly ended fatally.. the poor turtle was found dead by the time we got there after brutal attacks from a pack of dogs from a house close to one of the beaches we monitor in the south of Mahe. It is clear that the nesting beaches would definitely be more safe for the sea turtles if it could become a temporary protected area at least during the nesting period and MCSS in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Veterinary services aims to reach that goal hopefully!

looks alive but sadly not!