Monday, October 10, 2011

The Friendly and Brave Yellow-Bellied Terrapin!!!!!

During one of our surveys for our coastal development project funded by the Mangroves for the Future, assistant Researcher Cathrina Freminot made a rather un-expected discovery...

"For how long his been sitting here?
What is he doing here?
That’s the questions I am still asking myself….."

The 30 of September 2011 a lucky day for Cathrina (me) (Assistant Researcher), Rebecca (Work attachment Student) and Laura (Senior Researcher).

The little terrapin hiding in a corner in the shade, next to the bridge

As I was working along the footpath at Bayan Tree for the Turtle survey walk on the Beach, I spotted a brave Yellow- Bellied Terrapin next to the side of a bridge, in the shade, I shouted “oohhh it’s a terrapin” . Laura turned back with a big smile on her face, and Rebecca was so happy since it was her first terrapin.

Cathrina with the feisty little terrapin

Laura ran to the car to get all the equipment. We gathered together to get the measurement, paint a part of its carapace with nail varnish to give it a distinctive mark for any resighting, and we took some pictures to identify its gender. It was the smallest one that we’ve encountered so far. He had got loads of sand in his eyes, as his been fighting to find his way back to the wetland, so we gently washed him off..

Length: 14.5 cm
Width: 9.5 cm
Carapace Length: 15.6 cm
Colour: Gold
Gender: Male

After doing all the procedures I walked closer to the wetland and released him, he was so happy and swam very fast.

All measured and marked with his gold margin mark, he was ready to go!

Am so glad that we got the chance to help the terrapin out of harm.


Big thanks to Rebecca Hoareau and Laura Jeffreys.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Relocating a Hawksbill nest with an invented Spade

For the two months of work attachment here at MCSS, I’ve been doing turtle monitoring in the South of Mahe, which is done on Tuesdays and Fridays. But on Friday 30th of September, it was the luckiest and amazing day of my life since that I have never seen a turtle egg in my life. I was accompanied by the MCSS staff, Cathrina Freminot and Laura Jeffreys.

It was fun walking along the beaches looking for turtle tracks. But the hard work started as we came to the Anse Corail beach. There we realised that the turtle nest that was laid last week was being in danger of getting damaged by the sea, due to the fact that when its high tide the sand is being removed on the nest and the hawksbill eggs might get spoilt with the sea water, also if the eggs get a lot of seawater it deprives them of oxygen.

So Laura, Cathrina and I (Rebecca) decided to relocate the turtle’s nest to where it would be much safer and away from danger. Even though we’d made the right choice, it was quite difficult to look for a new place as the beach was full of coconut trees roots and this makes it hard to dig a new nest.
Rebecca surveys the marked eggs ready for moving to the new nest

Finally, we found a nice warm and shaded little place under a coconut tree for these little ones. Now the hard work begins, where we have to dig the hole for the new turtle nest. While digging I encountered an old turtle nest which was not that far from the new one, so we were able to count the shells that the hatchlings had come out of. There were 140 turtle egg shells.

While Cathrina and Laura were digging the new turtle nest to a depth of 67 cm, the same as the old one, I went looking for a spade at some houses near by because the area where the new nest was dug was hard with all the roots, but it was bad luck for me as no one was home.

Egg translocation under way

So, I’ve improvised a new spade by using the part of a coconut tree fond, so I could dig the nest and then scoop out the sand in the nest with a coconut husk.

Rebecca digging the nest with her improvised spade

Finally we relocated all the eggs in the new nest and covered them with sand. Actually there were 158 eggs, but only 154 were relocated due to the fact that 4 were already predated by crabs.

After all ,we were all proud of the hard team effort and went home with a big smile on our face.