Wednesday, June 15, 2016

after 5 amazing months we say goodbye to 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 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 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!