Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All about Sea Turtles!!

Exciting couple weeks here in south!

The nesting season for Hawksbill turtles has finally started; the beautiful creatures of the sea are coming up to lay their adorable little ping pong sized eggs on our beautiful beaches of Seychelles. We have been finding some sightings of turtles coming up some of the beaches and successfully laying their eggs. The first sighting was a green turtle that came up at Grand Police beach . 

Green turtle emergence track
I was so happy to see a green turtle track due to the fact that I was working on Aldabra before and that’s the most common turtle that comes up to nest on Aldabra. 

Vanessa joked around about how messy the green turtles are when they lay their eggs compared to the Hawksbill turtles ........which is true, but I still love them. However, for now it is believed that Green turtles nest all year round.... so there tracks are sometimes expected among the Hawksbill's tracks on the beaches.

Vanessa and Annabelle (Volunteer)
Although we all know that in a couple weeks we are going to be busy with the turtles, rushing into work early morning and leaving the beach late in the afternoon and past normal working hours, but we do it because we love these animals and after all we are the Conservation Team!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Humpback whales seen at east coast of Mahe

Today morning, around 9:30 AM we have received a phone call, telling that there has been some whale activity on the east coast of the island. Without any delay, we arrived at the spot. The hexocopter drone was in our possession in order to locate the whales from above. Unfortunately, the weather conditions and some technical issues didn't allow us to use the flying device, so we kept monitoring the bay from land.

On our way to the next observation point we saw it. A massive full-size jump form another side of the reef, it was definitely a humpback whale. Moreover, it was two adults. After spotting them, they were periodically jumping from the water with good synchronization.

It is unusual to see the humpback whales in this part of the island's waters, especially at this time of the year. Hopefully, next time the humpback whales will show their presence near the coast of the Mahe island the weather conditions will allow us to make better footage.

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