Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Turtle & Terrapin Project

We just thought you might like to know about a new project the MCSS team is undertaking with the Banyan Tree hotel which besides monitoring turtles and terrapins will be setting up a rehabilitation facility for them....You can find out all about it on our new project blog.

Wildlife Vets International are supporting the development of the Turtle and Terrapin Rehabilitation Facility at the Banyan Tree Resort. They are hoping to generate funds through the "Big Give Christmas Challenge" which allows matching funds of up to $4000 from the organisers! They are including our project in their wildlife vet development project in Seychelles and Mauritius which was mainly focused on birds so expanding to turtles and terrapins is a good move! So Please do visit their information page, watch the video and make a donation as whatever you donate will be matched by the Big Give!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Join whale shark intern Amber on a special day turtle monitoring with the MCSS team...

Having your day off fall on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday is always something to look forward too. It means that you have the option to spend the day with Vanessa (Madanm Torti) and walk some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen looking for turtle tracks and nests. You may even get to witness a turtle digging and laying its’ eggs. 

Last Wednesday started off as your typical beach clean-up day on Grande Police removing debris and low hanging vegetation to allow space for the turtles to nest. After two hours of cleaning a good size area, we walked the rest of the beach and found some turtle tracks. We then walked Petite Police, but did not see any tracks. Our next stop was Bazarca. As we walked along, Vanessa just stopped, sat down the turtle bag and started pulling out the clipboard and GPS. I saw the tracks so I just assumed that’s what we were looking at. I started writing on the clipboard and when I got down the next section on nest information, Vanessa said the Hawksbill turtle had laid eggs. We all looked up and asked her how she knew it laid. She told us that we were looking right at the nest. She put her hand in the mound of sand with vines and coconuts on top and said this is it. Well that turtle definitely fooled me! 
 Vanessa starts excavating the nest...
The nest was right at the high tide line so we had to work fast to move the nest further up the beach. Vanessa, Sophie and I started digging very quickly and gently while Freya ran to the car to get supplies. Once Sophie found the eggs, Freya and I started digging a nest further up the beach above the eroded bank which inhibited the turtle from digging farther up the beach. Sophie and Vanessa laid the eggs under an umbrella in the order they came out of the nest. Once all 149 eggs we removed, we started an assembly line to quickly get the eggs reburied in the order they had come out of the previous nest. 
 Gently removing the eggs from the doomed nest...
Then lining them up in the shade ready to re-locate...
There are no words to describe how precious and rewarding that moment was to me. Holding those precious lives in your hands just makes you appreciate life more yourself. I have several friends and a room-mate  that work for the Broward County Sea Turtle Program back in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and I’ve always listened to them talk about what they do at work. Digging in the sand with your bare hands, placing all the eggs in the nest and then covering it back up and camouflaging the nest gives you a sense of attachment to it. It was nice to get to finally experience that firsthand.  Vanessa said that that is our nest and she will keep us posted on it and let us know when it has hatched. 
And then finally placing them in a new safe nest!
A special thanks to Vanessa and the MCSS team for allowing us the opportunity to participate in these types of activities and gain the hands on experience that will help us move forward as we pursue careers in marine biology and other related fields. 
...Amber Metallo

Sunday, September 7, 2014

YES we are still here!!

David has at last found the password to get back on to the blog so some long over-due posts can now be put up... for those of you who wondered where we were our apologies, it has been a very busy year! But enough of this and on to the important stuff starting with this report from Vanessa and the turtle team!

Turtle Season 2013-2014

It’s been a productive turtle season and I’ve gained so much knowledge about the beautiful sea turtles and even got the chance to share the knowledge with volunteers and interested tourists, which was fun. I’ve had a lot of turtle encounters, once I even had 3 turtles come up together…… it was crazy……. But I managed to share myself among them and gather some info on each……… I’m nicknamed the Turtle Magnet at the office now!!!
Me with my first turtle encounter at Anse Intendance….. I was over the moon!!
The patrols during the peak season were really hectic but I enjoyed every minute of it and got excited by every track found or a simple indication that the turtles were around!!  So you can imagine how I got when a turtle was encountered…… but no worries…… I kept myself under control and in line with the sea turtle monitoring protocol!!
The beginning of the long nesting session!!

So now we are out of the peak season and I’m mostly concentrated on the Egg Clutch Survival data……. I must admit……. Digging up nest is not for the faint-hearted!! …………it gets really smelly and disgusting sometimes due to rotten eggs!! But the thrill of finding a few hatchlings, left behind and really tired unfortunately …… helping them find their way a little bit was really emotional….. it is important to note though that Hatchlings should be left to find their own way to the sea as it is essential for their survival and so as to have a good sense of direction, especially for the females so that they can come back to nest one day, but giving a little hand is essential when the Hatchlings seem weak.!!

Pete, Harriet and Dan digging up a nest on Anse Grand Police
It’s been an amazing journey so far ………patiently waiting for the peak of the next turtle season!!