Saturday, December 5, 2009

Maritime School joins in turtle conservation effort

Year 1 students from the Advanced Fisheries class at the Maritime Training Centre joined Elke on the beach for a half day Clean-up activity. The field trip was organised by their Marine Organism lecturer, Vanessa Zialor, who being a local plankton taxonomy expert, has been assisting MCSS for a number of years with their whale shark monitoring programme.

Shareefa Cadeau instructing her class mates about the Turtle Watchers Code of Conduct from the MCSS “mobile class room”, photo Elke Talma.

After a short briefing about turtles, the team of 13 students, 2 Environment officials, Vanessa and Elke began collecting rubbish while hoping desperately to see a nesting turtle - none showed up!
They were, however, unexpectedly rewarded with some Hawksbill hatchlings, found while collecting rubbish in the bushes. The nest had hatched a few days ago, with hatchlings emerging from the sand the night before.

For reasons yet to be determined, most of the hatchlings headed inland, despite no obvious signs of light pollution on the deserted beach, with many being killed by a picky predator with a taste for turtle brains!

Grey matter, a tasty snack for some! photo Elke Talma.

Fifty seven dead hatchlings were collected from the bush and of the 28 live hatchlings found, only 22 made it safely to the sea, with the other 6 dying from their head injuries.

Rubbish collecting abandoned while MTC students enjoyed their first hatchling encounter, photo Vanessa Zialor.

A total of 100kg of rubbish was collected from the beach, making the beach just that little bit safer for hatchlings and their nesting mothers.

From left to right, Samia Meme, Shareefa Cadeau, Yannick Chang-Tive, Maritza Jeannie and Trevor Vidot proudly show off their bounty, photo Elke Talma.

After a hard morning on the beach, many complaining about the heat and lack of shade, the students settled on a neighbouring beach for a well deserved lunch in the shade.

Students taking a well deserved break, photo Elke Talma.

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