Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clean up the World 2009

To commemorate clean up the world, MCSS organised an impromptu clean-up during regular beach patrols. Elke and Catarina were joined by Barbara Wolf, a tourist who had joined the MCSS turtle team for the day.
Catarina and Barbara collecting rubbish, photo Elke Talma

By 12:00 on Friday the 18th, they had collected over 51kg of rubbish from 3 turtle nesting beaches. This included plastic bottles and bags, polystyrene, flip flops, glass containers, discarded ropes and fishing line, fishing buoys, light bulbs etc...

The clean up crew would have collected much more but they ran out of bin bags – 12 in total!

Monday, September 14, 2009

MCSS welcomes turtle volunteer, Catarina Schlott

Hello there!

I am Caterina, a biology student from Dresden, Germany a volunteer on the Turtle Monitoring Project for the period of September/October 2009. As part of my studies I am doing an internship in a field of study that I can pick as well as the place where to do it – so I chose to come to the beautiful Seychelles and start some extraordinary work which I could have never experienced at home!

A unique chance in a unique environment about amazing animals with the great supervisor (Elke) is the objective. Elke always has answers to my questions and has a superb knowledge about the marine turtles as well as land and fresh water turtles. She is familiar with the beaches, turtle nesting sites and is furthermore concerned about the awareness that people should have towards turtles and does everything to support it.

Catarina’s first (very wet!) day at work with MCSS, photo Elke Talma.

Our focus is the monitoring of nesting marine turtles as hawksbill and green turtles. My first monitoring trip was very wet as it rained a lot, but gave a first insight in monitoring in general, how a nest looks like and where the turtle ladies prefer to go. The second (and most recent one) was very spectacular due to meeting a turtle that just come out to do her duty. What a great experience!

Catarina’s first encounter (and second work day) with a nesting Hawksbill, photo Elke Talma.

I am very excited for the upcoming weeks and happy to enrich my knowledge through the project!

She’s back!!!

Doesn’t she look great? photo Elke Talma

My baby is back from the mechanic looking prettier than ever!

Unfortunately her new look has come at price – my baby now has attitude!

First the radio no longer works, so the mechanic needs to order a new aerial from the suppliers in Japan, then …

… on Saturday she refused to start until I bought her a new battery,

… on Sunday, the seat belt jammed we had to take her apart and give her a good talking to,

…and today a knobby-thing fell off and while I know where its supposed to go, I have no idea what its for or how to get it back on!

Who knew trucks went through puberty!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SWOT latest turtle report

SWOT Report issue 1 to 4

The fourth issue of the SWOT Report has recently been published. It features the first-ever map of global flat-back turtle nesting data, genetic stocks, and in-water distribution. Other highlights include articles about why leatherback populations vary globally, how retail sales help communities and sea turtles in Brazil.

SWOT Report is a unique publication that brings sea turtles into the hearts and minds of people around the world. Published annually since 2006, the rich educational content that fills each volume is generated by SWOT’s extensive network of partners, the SWOT Team, and is designed to harness the group’s collective power by highlighting their success stories, innovations, and new findings.

SWOT Report is distributed back to the SWOT Team members who helped create it, free of charge, for use in their own local outreach campaigns in communities where sea turtles nest, forage, and migrate.
To download your copy of the report visit the SWOT website.

First turtles of the season arriving

On the 5th of August, Marcel reported the first nesting turtle sighting on Anse Marie Louise. Two days later, MCSS Research Officer, Elke Talma, found evidence of a successful nesting emergence on one of the South Mahe beaches.

The first turtle nest of the season, photo Elke Talma

These are the first turtles of the 2009-10 Hawksbill Nestings Season which “officially” began on the 16th July 2009. Generally, one or two turtle will be nesting at this time of the year and as the season progresses, the number will increase, with peak nesting occurring between October and February each year.

Looking back at data from previous nesting seasons, these recent emergences are not the earliest recorded for first emergences. In 2008-09, MCSS recorded a turtle nesting on the 5th July 2008, a full week before the official Nesting Season began. Conversely, the latest emergence was recorded during the 2004-05 Season, when the first nesting turtle was reported on the 27th September.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Turtling in style with Thrifty Car Hire

Temporary turtle-mobile sponsored by Thirty Car Hire
Having just returned from the WIOMSA conference Reunion, Elke was desperate to check for turtles on the main nesting beaches, having missed last Friday’s scheduled patrol. The MCSS truck, however, was still with the mechanic for a long overdue paint job and was still out of commission, so Elke had to call on Mickey Camille, General Manager of Thrifty Car Hire, to assist with transportation.

Thrifty Car Hire has been supporting the MCSS Turtle Programme for a number of years and was one of the sponsors who made it possible for Elke to participate in the Sixth WIOMSA Scientific Symposium in Reunion.

Thanks Mickey... unfortunately no new turtle nests to report!

The Sixth WIOMSA Scientific Symposium was a roaring success!

Local sponsorship from Four Seasons Resort, Thrifty Car Hire, Helicopter Seychelles, Dive Resort Seychelles, Underwater Centre Seychelles and Cousine Island made it possible for Elke to attend the Sixth WIOMSA Scientific Symposium. The symposium brought together experts from 26 countries who specialise in marine research and conservation. A total of 160 power point presentations were on offer and over 200 poster were on display for the 450 delegates to peruse.

The organising committee did a fantastic job, with a wide range of subject being explored through the presentations and posters. There was also a wide variety of free books and DVD’s and the abundance of food made Elke wish she had packed trousers with an elastic waistband!

Food, food and more food, photo Elke Talma
Special session were planned for the afternoon of the 27th and included a session on Turtles. Originally, this was advertised as a training session on “Standardised beach monitoring protocols for sea turtles using international best practice”, however due to the high attendance (over 30 participants) and wide variation in backgrounds (ranging from participants with over 40 years field experience to those who just love turtles and were keen to learn more), the organisers changed the programme into a roundtable discussion.

Through these discussion, participants were introduced to the various Turtle programmes in the region ranging from
monitoring turtle fisheries in Madagascar, counting turtle nests in South Africa to tracking turtles with satellite tags in Seychelles.

Through these sessions, it became clear that while we all have a passion for turtles, the effort put into our respective monitoring programmes, while commendable, would do little to protect these animals if we did not work together to create a standard monitoring protocol for basic data collection to allow for regional comparisons to be made.

A quick test on basic carapace length measurement reveals large variation in methods used within the region, photo Elke Talma.