Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Turtle Bonanza!

My name is Caroline Baille, I am 21 and I am from France. I am on a master degree of agronomy. I will specialize in marine sciences later on, that’s why, for my internship this year, I wanted to work on protecting marine life, especially on animals like sharks or turtles. I sent a request to MCSS who accepted me on the Turtle Monitoring Program.

I arrived in Seychelles the 3rd of November 2010 and I am here for 3 months. In only 2 weeks, I discovered many things about turtles and about their conservation in Seychelles.

Caroline measuring a nesting hawksbill turtle, photo Devis Monthy

During the day, walking on the beaches looking for turtles tracks is really amazing, especially when we have turtle encounters. After 10 days of turtle patrols, I finally met my first turtles! And it was a very special day because we encountered 5 turtles on the beaches! We observed them, took all the required measures (carapace length,…) or information (time, turtle specie, name of the beach,…) for the research program and finally tagged them before letting them go back to the sea. This is very surprising to see how these animals living in the sea are able to walk on the beach and dig such a deep egg chamber (50cm) with their fins only. This is one of the things that impresses me most about turtles.

The first of the five turtles, nesting on the inshore side of the road, photo Caroline Baille

Turtles are beautiful animals and I understood that their conservation is very important for the ecosystem and fishing activities: I really feel concerned about it and getting involved in this program as a volunteer is the best experience ever for me, I really enjoy it.

More about the five turtles from Project Coordinator Georgia:

We enountered five turtles, the first one was at the first beach we checked and was on the other side of the road to the beach and not easy to see! She had already dug two nests complete with nest chambers but abandoned them for unknown reasons so she must have been really tired.

While we waited with her, a team of landscape surveyors turned up with machetes and equipment which was worrying initially but they turned out to be really interested so we told them about the laws, basic turtle info and about how turtles are poisonous to eat and how they help the environment. They ended up helping to get her back to the sea after she got stuck in some vegetation which was really good of them.

Turtle number 1 heads for the sea after being freed for vegetation, photo Caroline Baille

The second turtle laid at the bottom of an erosion cliff within the tide line so we translocated the eggs, (151 eggs) to the top of the cliff.

The whole team helps dig-out and translocate the eggs from turtle 2; photo Devis Monthy

Turtle no. 3 was on some rocks and while we were making a plan of action she made a break for the sea and we lost her! On the next beach along however, we encountered a turtle just emerging from the sea so it could well have been our friend from the rocks (turtle 4). On the same beach there was also another turtle already nesting (turtle 5).

Devis tagged this one as well as turtle no. 2 and showed us how the equipment worked. I was supposed to tag turtle no. 4 once she finished laying but she already had tags. All turtles were hawksbills. No. 4 also got stuck under some roots and Devis and Mariska helped to free her. Turtle ID photos were taken for all but turtle 3 which made a very speedy escape indeed!

1 comment:

Rosy Smith said...

What a cute sea turtles. nice article.