Thursday, July 7, 2016

Passing on my droning skills!

Finally my acquired skills in drone flying are really being used to the maximum so far.... Inga Petelski is back with us and this time instead of being a volunteer...I'm thrilled to say she is now my colleague! The Project Leader for the Grand Police Wetland Project.

The upcoming UAV Pilot!
 I have been teaching Inga to fly the Hexacopter and how to plan Auto missions, I must say that we make a good team....my good teaching skills and her wonderful learning skills make a great match! There is still much practice to be done though but I think soon Inga will be able to plan a whole mission and fly the drone without my assistance!
Auto landing after a mission
 Yesterday we managed to map 2/3 of the wetland area, next week with some fully charged batteries we will be back on site to complete the mapping, which is simply sending the drone in autopilot on a pre-planned path and the GoPro takes pictures every 2 secs. The pilot only follows the drone's movement from the computer ensuring it is on the mission and if anything goes wrong the pilot is ready to take over with the radio transmitter. Though the drone's Aotupilot is very precise and if for example there is a low battery issue, the auto pilot terminates the mission and returns to launch at the Home Location, which it where it first took off.
 To complete the map all the pictures are stitched together using a computer software which Inga and I will get to discover soon.
successfully landed!

Cleaning up Anse Grand Police


Wednesday 6th July was a great day with perfect weather and the perfect team for cleaning up Anse Grand Police. MCSS had a very enthusiastic group of volunteers from the International School of Seychelles who did a great job.
Lots of rubbish is washed up on the beach especially this time of the year and as we are still getting Green turtles coming to nest as they nest all year round, so it is important to constantly keep the nesting platform clear and clean.
the volunteers getting ready to start
 The team decided that a picture of their success was needed, it was quite hot but the cool breeze from the sea kept them going....and of course the beautiful surrounding kept them motivated to leave this beach rubbish free...at least for the day.
bags full of rubbish!
 After collecting, the great task at hand was to then carry....or drag everything to the middle of the beach where all the rubbish was sorted and the cans and pet bottles found would be redeemed later on for recycling purposes and the extra cash goes towards the MCSS projects, especially the Rehabilitation and the Turtle Conservation Project.
dragging the heavy bags to the truck
Special thanks to the volunteers and the International School of Seychelles!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

after 5 amazing months we say goodbye to Lea....here is her last blog!

Last Wednesday, near Anse Governement beach, Vanessa and I had a break down with the car. The brake was not working anymore and we were driving downhill!! Luckily, Vanessa is a very good driver who had the situation under control managed to stop the car with the handbrake and gradually moving to first gear ........without even panicking! We had to wait around 2 hours the mechanic and our other colleagues to pick us up. Anyway, it was ok, because during all this time we were chatting J.

We survived!
Lea trying to be superwoman!
Wednesday 5th of June was my last patrol, I was very sad… It was the last time for me to patrol all the beaches we monitor. I was used to that routine for the past 5 months. I will miss every Wednesday morning, driving with Vanessa and looking for tracks or turtles!! At  Anse Government we stop 2 minutes to take a selfie with Robinson Crusoe!....... Yes the famous Robinson Crusoe… every Wednesday we usually see this guy (with long hair and long beard) on the beach enjoying life, doing nothing and drinking is kaloo (local alcoholic drink made from coconut trees)… So for my last day we decided to have a selfie with him and he was absolutely ok with the idea!!
Once in a lifetime picture with Robinson Crusoe!
 5 months ago, I joined the MCSS team. It was just amazing. I have done a lot of thing. During the two first months, I was helping Vanessa to monitor the beaches for turtle activities. It was lots of amazing moment with turtles (measuring the carapace, counting the number of eggs, writing at what time she was doing each step for the nesting process). I also had to dig the most amazing nest ever. When I was digging one nest, we found 225 hatchlings already on their way out to the water... Wow, I was so lucky.
During this internship, I have also done lots of birds’ survey, setting up trap to catch terrapins and doing beach profiling every month.
Otherwise, since the first of April, we had our patient Eden that we need to take care of every day, so since two months now, we have to forced feed him, weigh him, and clean the tank. I will miss this beautiful marine turtle a lot. I hope he will get better soon and will live as long as possible, because we do our maximum for this cute turtle.
Feeding Eden

Finally ....I would like to say a big thank you to Vanessa who taught me lots of things and who has always been so nice to me. And also, a big thank you for David, Jonny, Holly, Rebecca, Imogen and the others who were working with me and who made my internship in Seychelles an amazing one . 


Last beautiful picture together!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

General Update on the 2015-2016 turtle nesting season

The Highlights of the season has passed and turtle monitoring is quite easy and quick now without tracks and turtles on the beach....but the patrol must go on and MCSS monitors the nesting beaches throughout the year...... you never know...... we might bump into something interesting!

It has been an exciting season so far and as you have seen following our previous blogs..... turtle encounters....... hatchlings.......those are enough to make your day and keep you thinking that this must be the best job ever!!
Explaining track measurements
Altogether we had the chance to encounter 54 nesting Hawksbill turtle...and each felt like the first one due to the excitement of simply encountering these beautiful creatures. My favorite patrol so far was the day I encountered 5 nesting turtles on one beach...at the same time!! Wonderful to experience but one can go bonkers trying to collect data from all of them at the same time!

Apart from the encounters a great number of tracks were also recorded on the nesting beaches; 426 tracks. Altogether 222 nests were identified and we have been able to collect egg clutch survival data from quite a good number of nests.

However, this season we recorded a higher number of poaching incidents, sadly some people are still killing Hawksbill turtles though the fact that they are critically endangered, this only makes me more determined to push on through with the conservation work that we are doing and reinforce on strategies to bring more protection for Sea Turtles.

Nesting Hawksbill turtle




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.