Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome to Kelonia

Elke and David are currently on Reunion Island visiting with regional partners at the Kelonia Marine Turtle Observatory and Ifremer, the French oceanographic research institute whose name translates literally as the Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.

The Kelonia Marine Turtle Observatory, photo Elke Talma.

David is scheduled to give a presentation shortly on the photo-ID techniques used on whale sharks together with Violaine Dulau of Globice who uses photo-ID on whales and dolphins and Claire Jean of Kelonia, who is working on a new method that may prove promising to help in the identification of individual turtles from photographs.

The week long trip was sponsored by the French Government in collaboration with Kelonia under a programme of regional collaboration.

The first working day in Reunion consisted of meeting the team at the turtle Observatory and learning about the various turtle projects that are being implemented by Kelonia. A short visit to the DNA Laboratory at Ifremer, proved interesting for David who in his youth (a long, long time ago) was a lab tech in a genetics labs. Elke managed to get her hands on some sample pots and will be collecting tissue samples during the next nesting season.

David and Stephane Ciccione, Director of Kelonia touring the facility, photo Elke Talma.

On day two, David sat down with Claire to translate his power point presentation into French while Elke, armed with her camera, joined Emily Richard, the Assistant Public Relations Officer at Kelonia on a guided tour of the aquarium with a young group of enthusiastic turtle conservationists.

School kids get up close and personal with a 240kg Green Turtle, photo Elke Talma.

Kelonia host over 100,000 visitors a year and much of the public awareness is done through activities with schools. Although Seychelles does not have an aquarium there is still much we can learn from our new partners in Reunion in terms of public awareness aimed at young children.

A youngster gets an underwater view of a loggerhead turtle, photo Elke Talma.

The day ended with Claire giving Elke a brief description of the turtle photo-ID protocols in preparation for Wednesday’s image processing marathon.

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