Sunday, November 15, 2009

Update on turtle activities at Petite Marie Louise

Marcel was quite pleased with his clean up of the beach at Petite Marie Louise, especially as this was followed with a successful turtle nesting. He has been patrolling Petite Marie Louise almost daily, so imagine his concern, when he was told that a turtle had been rescued from a pit above the high water mark there.

He remembered that a while ago someone had actually searched for treasure at Petite Marie Louise, leaving several large holes behind. These holes are well above the high water mark, too far you would think, for a turtle to reach. You’d be wrong!

Turtle struggling to find suitable nesting site in the dense coconut debris, photo Elke Talma

An enterprising turtle did find the hole, but sliding into the hole was obviously easier than climbing out. She probably spent the night there, for when found, she was dirty and exhausted according to the local fisherman who found her. It took some effort to pull her out of the hole and drag her back onto the beach, but she did get safely back to sea. Marcel spent the rest of that afternoon making the pit safe by erecting a barrier to prevent another turtle mishap.

Hole from ex-treasure hunting venture proved to be a trap for unsuspecting turtles, photo Marcel Mathiot

A few days later, he noticed that someone had obviously enjoyed the cleaner beach, in spite of the rain, as they had cut some palm fronds with which to build a shelter. These they left behind, stacked in a neat pile but creating a barrier once again which blocked off access to the turtle nesting places. Marcel removed the barrier!

This beautiful little beach gets a lot of attention for such an isolated spot. Sometimes it is not the right kind of attention. During a routine patrol once more the unexpected happened. While searching the beach for turtle tracks and finding none, conversation and all attention turned towards the pit at the top of the beach. The tale of the unfortunate turtle trapped in the pit was recounted and so the pit was inspected. At first glance there was nothing unusual to be seen and then sharp eyes and keen noses detected more than the presence of palm fronds.

Lying in the pit there were in fact, in excess of a dozen empty jerry cans. Their contents, diesel oil, had been poured away, possibly over the side of a passing fishing boat, and above the pit partly, hidden behind a young palm tree we found a small cache of Turtle and Dolphin meat, salted and ready to be collected by the prospective person or persons. Just as we were feeling good about this turtle season too!

Hawksbill turtle safely making her way into the sea, photo Marcel Mathiot

Sad as this was, there is still much to feel good about, for throughout the local community, there has been a lot more positive interest in the conservation of the turtle. We might be moving forward a tad slowly, but we are going forward and we will succeed.
… News from Pat and Marcel.

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