Monday, November 16, 2015

The things we do for the environment!

Your egg chamber is too small!!
This week, I had three turtle encounters, one on Anse Corail and two on Anse Intendance.  The encounter on Anse Corail was a lucky encounter as we came across her nesting while we were just as we were patrolling the beach.  This turtle must have been desperate to lay her eggs: she dug 4 body pits before she started laying, and her eggs were overfilling her egg chamber!  We had to relocate 43 of her 168 eggs to keep her from accidently crushing them as she covered her nest.

The two encounters on Anse Intendance were thrilling.  I was the sole turtle researcher who was available to respond to the turtle call on Tuesday, as the other researchers were on another beach with a different turtle. A couple of tourists were very distressed when I raced down to the beach not knowing I was a researcher.  I thanked them later for that response; that is exactly how we want watchers on the beach to respond so that people will stay away from turtles on a beach.
The very next night, while I was at the hotel and waiting for guests to arrive for the Manager’s Cocktail hour, a turtle was spotted coming up the beach.  After getting my Trimble and measuring tape, I went to the beach to try to keep the guests low to the ground and behind the turtle.  The sight of the turtle and the setting sun over the water had attracted over 25 excited guests!  Many of them asked questions and were shocked to learn that sea turtles lay 150-200 ping-pong ball sized/shaped eggs in each nest and will nest about 4-5 times during a nesting season.  That’s between 600-1000 eggs in a season! (This turtle laid 156 that night.)
Nesting Hawksbill turtle
As the sun went down, most of the watchers went back to their villas, and I was left just with the stars and a turtle on the beach.  It was an amazing experience.
We had a French journalist named Therry visit MCSS this week.  He writes for a French magazine called QOA that covers eco-volunteerism, and Therry was interested in interviewing me and a couple other MCSS volunteers.  He asked me about how I heard about MCSS and what motivated me to volunteer in Seychelles.  I told him that I used MCSS as an example of science research teamed with ecotourism back when the whale shark monitoring project was working with a dive center in Mahe to offer encounters with whale sharks to both tourists and scientists.  From there, my interest in Seychelles grew, and when I learned about the turtle monitoring project, I jumped at the chance to volunteer.  Lynn and I walked through the wetlands with Therry, and he joined us on the turtle patrol for the day. The issue that the article will be published in should come out in early 2016.  The magazine is geared towards French speaking young adults as an effort to get them more interested in eco-volunteerism abroad.  To be a part of a movement of young people who are traveling and volunteering is exciting!

Cans & pet bottles pick up!!
Lastly for this post, for the past 4 weeks, Vanessa and I have been collecting cans and bottles from around Mahe.  Some of the beaches that we monitor on our turtle patrol were covered when we started collecting, and we’ve found many in the Intendance wetlands.  Collecting them has cleaned up these areas and kept plastic out of the ocean.  Cans and bottles can be redeemed at recycling centers in Seychelles for 25 cents each.  Looks like our collection will fetch 100 rupees at least! We’ll be turning them in next week, and I’ll share the final amount we got from them when we find out.

Our collection ready to be redeemed!