Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Busy Busy

The girls from the Maritime Academy have been kept busy throughout the week.... sea turtle encounters....... beach profiling..... bird surveys and terrapin trapping were the main tasks being conducted...... here are their updates for their second week of attachment: 

Angelique's side of the story......
Making sure the Jacuzzi is a homely as possible!
Second week of attachment at MCSS has been very intriguing. We had more than one terrapin but, we had three new, one black mud and two yellow bellied. The biggest one goes by the name Kim and the other chichi. I also went patrolling on the beaches of Baie Lazare and Babarons which I didn’t even know existed. We x-rayed a bat, she was a girl. Mary gave her the name Luna even though she was dead but we didn’t get the chance to do anatomy on her ......shame, maybe next time.
Also we came across a turtle with only three flippers; she came to lay on the beach of Intendance. I found it shocking but really amazing that she could dig her chamber.
And lastly doing beach profiling , not easy at all especially when its very sunny. You have to concentrate, especially when measuring the slope degree which didn’t seem easy for my colleagues!

Aishah's review for the second week......
This week was a tough one with beach profiling. It was really hot but I actually enjoyed it .Once I was given the instruction of what to do, it was pretty easy, we made it fun and laughed throughout but managed to get all the necessary measurementsaccurate.....especially when it came to using the Abney Level.
We didn’t get much turtle encounters this week, mostly tracks because of the low tide.
We got the chance to x-ray a dead fruit bat which had been in the freezer for a week and wow did that smell, but it was really cool.

And not to forget the bird transects which is personally my favorite thing to do, not a big fan of birds but its something I look forward to do each time.

Beach profiling Anse Corail

Friday, November 20, 2015

Trainees at the Centre!

Since Monday the 16th we 've had  2 trainess from the SMA- Seychelles Maritime Academy. Aicha and Angelique are doing their work attachment experience and
have been helping us out with all the projects and different tasks at the centre, here's their brief sum up of their first week with us............
The girls cleaning Baby Projects' tank

Angelique checking out the traps
Since we started our work attachment with MCSS at the Wildlife conservation and rehabilitation centre at Intendance it has been very interesting so far .We got the chance to see our first turtle nesting, it was really exciting actually. We came across some really slow turtles but we did enjoy their company seeing them through the whole process of nesting. Unfortunately we came across only Hawksbill turtles because they nest during the day as for the Green turtles they nest during the night mostly.
Apart from sea turtles we also work on Terrapins. We put traps around the wetlands, we haven’t caught as many terrapins as we thought but we did came across one while walking near the streets and named her Wilelnina. When we x-rayed her we saw that she was full of eggs and that was great because we thought she was just fat!........ But she seemed healthy enough so we let her go.

To sum up, the environment is very nice, we felt really welcomed. Vanessa, Mary and Lynn the ladies at the centre are so nice and friendly. We really appreciate what they’re doing. We are going to make our last three weeks working here very fruitful.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Banyan Tree Blog – 2nd Week Nov, 2015
This week the Wildlife Conservation & Rehabilitation Centre welcomed Johanna who is a vet working with Wildlife Vets International on Tuesday 10 Nov. In addition to bringing us some much-needed veterinary supplies, Johanna lent us her expertise by giving our current terrapin patients a quick check-up. She confirmed our initial findings and gave the patients a clean bill of health which means that they can now be released into the wild as per the Centre’s Policy.
The expert checking out our patients
Johanna also conducted a demonstration Post Mortem on a dead moorhen the Centre’s staff members had found the previous week while out putting traps in the wetland. She certified that the moorhen had been hit by a car, proof of which we got not only from the post mortem but also from the X-Rays taken from the state-of-the-art veterinary portable X-Ray the MCSS purchased from funds partly sponsored by the GoS-UNDP-GEF project and partly raised by Madaline Cole’s family & friends.
An x-ray of a Moorhen
   The post mortem served three main objectives. Firstly, it was to allow Johanna to teach us the anatomy of the bird and help us identify bone fractures which in her view are usually easy to diagnose and treat. She highlighted methods we can use to treat such fractures and precautions that we need to take while giving care to the injured bird. This is important given the population of resident birds in the Banyan Tree wetland.
Conducting the post mortem
On Tuesday afternoon Mary and I finally received the hook which had been found lodged in the back of a nesting turtle’s neck the previous week. It was a Banyan Tree staff member, Randy Camille, Senior Security Supervisor, who had encountered the turtle in front of the Rhum Shack on the Intendance Beach out of working hours, and had subsequently taken care to remove the foreign object from the injured turtle’s neck. Randy is a turtle enthusiast who is always willing to lend us a hand and his enthusiasm and compassion are greatly appreciated.
The nasty hook!
So last week I had hinted at the drought we had experienced in terms of terrapin trappings and I had indicated that we sorely missed our lucky charm to change the tide in our favour. Well, this week I’m utterly pleased to report that things are looking up. Mary is now firmly back in the fold and has already started working her magic. We are putting in mostly day traps in the wetland this week and on Wednesday afternoon we had a Black Mud Terrapin capture in Pond 7. It is the first time the Centre has captured any terrapin at this site and we have established that Ray, the terrapin is in fact a new sighting whose details have since been uploaded to our Terrapin Catalogue. In addition, a Banyan Tree staff member brought us a female terrapin found in one of the Villas by a hotel guest. This success was followed by yet another capture on Thursday. This time we caught Carl in Pond 1; it’s the second time Carl has been caught in our traps, the first time round we caught him while trapping in Pond 3.

On Thursday we also conducted our monthly Water test where we get water samples from different ponds and test them for the following: Ammonia, Acidity, Nitrite, Nitrate, Alkalinity and GH Hardness. The aim is to make sure that the water is safe for the different species living in the wetland, and if it’s not, to alert the hotel so that they can do further tests and take immediate corrective measures. The results show that the water is safe for our wetland species.
Conducting the water tests

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The centre keeping busy!

Intendance Beach Blog – 1st Week of November, 2015-11-06
This working week was relatively shorter with the Public Holiday Monday, however, our sea turtles have kept the momentum as we now enter into the peak nesting season. Tuesday proved to be quite interesting. The Centre welcomed a couple, Emile and Julia, hailing from Milan who happens to have honeymooned in our islands seven years prior. They have opted to mix business with pleasure as the husband assists us with our ‘drone problem’.
drone operation!

nesting turtle
His wife, Julia, proved to be very helpful as I monitored my fourth nesting turtle on Intendance beach. She enthusiastically assisted me through the different stages as we interacted with the tourists on the beach and took the turtle’s measurements and identification photos, while noting all the information down on the Trimble. Since the turtle had her mind set on nesting all the way under the vegetation by the famous Rhum Shack, these tasks proved to be quite arduous.

Thursday brought a surprise patient into one of our tanks at the centre. A kind soul had dropped a new terrapin off. We’ve since named her Chunk because of the noticeably large chunk of shell missing off her carapace, more precisely on the left hind sight. Chunk has now joined the Centre’s baby, Project, and our ever-so guarded Hiccup, who is still refusing to sample our gourmet manufactured reptiles food.

As the week comes to a close, we are yet to strike lucky on our traps that we are placing in different sites in the wetland. We are in serious need of our lucky charm, the witty Mary, who is due back this weekend. Can’t wait to have her back on the team!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lynn shares her experiences so far....

My second week at the Wildlife Centre has flown by so quickly.  The week started off with a bang and on Monday I finally got to see my very first nesting turtle. She came up on Intendance beach right after our daily beach patrol. 
High-5 on finding a Hawksbill turtle nesting!
I was so impressed by how determined she was to nest at her chosen spot and how methodical she was throughout.  After two hours of toiling she finally made her way back to the sea without so much as a backward glance.  Two days later we stumbled on another turtle already in the process of laying her eggs.  I was ecstatic. We got soaked while observing her and gathering our data but it was all worth it. 

To make it even more special, she was rather reluctant in leaving her nest. When done camouflaging it, she gave it a lingering look as if to bid her little ones goodbye; it was a bittersweet moment. We left in high spirits marvelling at the beauty of it all.

Lynn with her second Turtle encounter
The next day brought even more action to the centre. We got a call from officials of the Ministry of Environment who needed our assistance. The unthinkable had happened; a Hawksbill had gone up to nest on Anse Royale beach during the day and had been injured by a poacher. They had struck her in the face fracturing her jaw and tipped her on her back so that she couldn’t escape. Luckily for her, a good samaritan informed the Greenline and that is how she ended up at our centre.  It was very heartbreaking to see how distressed she was. Her eyes were red and bulging and she was bleeding and quite lethargic. We took her X-Rays to ascertain the extent of her injuries then consulted with our vet who administered antibiotics and painkillers. After that we placed her in our tank where she stayed overnight. We’ve kept a close eye on her; monitoring her progress to see if she could be released into the sea. I am very pleased to say that it looks as if we will be releasing Lady later on today as she is doing so much better. She is now very alert and mobile and the swelling in her eyes have considerably subsided. We did good and can leave the Centre for the day, knowing that we made a difference, no matter how small.

Tough girls carrying the new patient to her tank

Mary's update on her experiences

What a week! Beach patrols are picking up, we've been trapping for terrapins every night, and have had 2 new patients! This week, I'll be introducing our newest terrapin patient, Hiccup (named after a very bad case of hiccups I had earlier this week). Wednesday night, we had a trap put in around a creek that runs through the Intendance wetlands. Come Thursday morning, we found little Hiccup in the trap!  Hiccup is a Black Mud Terrapin weighing 371g. We are holding him for observation because we noticed a white spot on his left eye that we think may be an eye infection. He also hasn't been closing his front hinge to cover his head. He has been quiet every time we've had to handle him (for initial measurements and for his X-Rays). We will be having a vet come in 2 weeks from the International Wildlife Vets. We will likely care for Hiccup here until then for a consultation.At the end of Friday, we caught 2 more Black Mud Terrapins in our wetland traps. One, Soldier, was a recapture from March, but the other was a terrapin we have not caught before. I named him Carl. Both turtles were x-rayed since the x-ray machine was just installed a couple of months ago, so we don’t have records of Soldier’s anatomy. Both turtles were released back in the wetlands on Friday.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mary the Trimble fanatic!!

Our new volunteer....all the way from the USA!!............

Hi everyone! I'm Mary, I'm the new volunteer here at MCSS! I'll be staying until January for the turtle nesting season, helping out at the Banyan Tree and Turtle Monitoring project in general.

                                                        Colecting data and rubbish at the same time

Last Friday was my first day of work at the wildlife center, and they wasted no time in getting me out into the field, going on patrols with Vanessa and Lynn. I was introduced to our Trimble, which we use to collect data. I probably won't be seen on the beach without it!

Throughout this week, in addition to patrols at off site beaches, we did patrols every day on Anse Intendance, the beach that the Banyan Tree resort is located on, and we had quite a few guests from our center walk with us for patrols. 
Turtle awareness walk

One lucky group helped us as we found tracks and a nest! The others were treated to a walk on the beach and learned about turtles. As it is still early in the nesting season, this week we had a few "null" patrols, or patrols where no new evidence of turtle activity were found. As the season enters the peak months of November and December, I'm assured it will be a bit crazier on the beach, with turtle sightings galore!

                Carrying the trap  to the trapping site

With our terrapin project, I helped Lynn and Vanessa put traps into our wetlands. We've caught tilapia, but no terrapins in the traps yet.

Until next week!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Introducing Lynn

I officially joined the MCSS Banyan Tree team on Monday 5th October, so I’ve now got a full 5 days worth of work experience in the conservation of mud terrapins and turtles under my rather thin belt. From the onset I should point out that I have never learnt and tried out as many new things as we’ve managed to squeeze into that single week. And the best part of it all is that it has been so much fun. This gets me thinking … Lynn why didn’t you get into this a lot sooner?

Being introduced to 'Project'

I had come in for 2 days prior to being employed by the MCSS where I got to do beach patrol and beach profiling with Vanessa. Believe it or not, despite living in the area for many years, I hadn’t been to most of the beaches we went to. I’m so glad and thankful that I got the opportunity to not only go to those beaches but to also look at them from the perspective of a marine conservationist.

Meeting and weighing 'Tim/Pingu'
Back to my exciting new job … Wednesday was epic. I got to x-ray a black mud terrapin. That was my very first time x-raying anything to be
Learning about x-rays
honest. It was surreal. We named our patient Tim, thinking he was a newcomer only to discover later that he had been previously encountered and had even been given a name. Tim turned out to be Pingu! And how did we find that out? Thanks to the seemingly robust catalogue the Centre is compiling. Imogen thought it would be fun to test me at using the catalogue, and … drum roll please … I aced it … managed to identify Pingu’s plastron from over 30 picture IDs. Later on in the afternoon I was given the honor of releasing Pingu back into the wild after we had processed him and to my utter dismay … he didn’t even look back to let me know he was going to miss me! But to be fair, he had lingered a little before dashing off. I’d like to think that this meant that he was reluctant to leave me.

Training about turtles- with Vanessa and new volunteer Mary

My beach patrols are yet to result in an actual sighting of a turtle coming up the beach to nest, but I have experienced the buzz of spotting 2 nests.  I know that that feeling does not compare to the ecstasy of seeing my first nesting turtle. I’m getting all excited just thinking about it. It’s about to get a whole lot more interesting around here!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Georgina.....our youngest volunteer!

Usually we get volunteers who are young adults to assist with the different tasks at the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre....but on the 1st of October we had our youngest volunteer who is on her way to become a teenager!!
Georgina Davidson is an enthusiastic South African girl who was of great assistance at the centre...... here is how she describes her experience....

" My class has to help the community or do some environmental work to help us become true Leaders, we call Personal Outreach Program. I wanted to do environmental work.......little did I know how interesting and fun it would be! The first thing I did arriving at the centre was check out the cutest little thing I've ever encountered in my life....Baby Project a small Black mud terrapin. We then put on the strangest shoes to go into the wetland and retrieve some terrapin traps and carried them back to the centre, sadly we hadn't caught anything. However, I shall never forget walking through a few spider webs as we were walking, until I decided to walk behind she would go through them all and create a clear path for me!

 Back at the centre I fed Baby Project and then Vanessa gave me the task of sweeping the Veranda....I had barely swept in my life and when we had finally finished, we went to do some Chemistry as we collected water samples for testing...I enjoyed the Chemistry! We then had lunch on the Intendance beach....let's just say I know what I'll be doing next holiday and for my future job!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ta-Ta For Now (Rachel's last blog post)

So this last week has been a great one in terms of visits and wildlife. Our volunteers Maurits and Nadia only stayed with us for a few days, but I’m happy to say that their time here was well spent! The two of them conducted bird surveys and wetland mapping, as well as decorating the inside of the centre.

Nadia and Maurits starting our new visitors log
In addition, the two of them adopted a Yellow-Bellied Mud Turtle they’ve now named “Rachel”. This means that we now have 3 terrapins that have been adopted. Two weeks ago, a father and son, Mark and Oscar, also adopted Stumpy and Project. All of our foster parents now live on our Proud Parents Wall, as pictured below.

Our banyan tree of Proud Parents (painted by Nadia)
On Monday, the entire wetland was flooded due to heavy rain all throughout the weekend. Even some of the boardwalk was covered!

Boardwalk next to one of the hotel's restaurants was flooded
Fortunately, some animals seemed to like the wet weather. On our way to turtle patrol, Imogen and I managed to see two Seychelles Kestrels mating!

Our loving couple
Today, we received another group from the SOSF Marine Explorers Program. The kids had another wander through the wetland, during which they spotted several Green-Backed Herons and one group was lucky enough to see a terrapin!

The kids looking for terrapins in the water
Abbi and Fred trying to take a picture of a Green-Backed Heron
Unfortunately, today is my last day working for MCSS – I’m moving to England in September to my Masters Degree. I’ve had lots of fun her and I’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity. If you are Seychellois and interested in the possibility of working for MCSS, please contact and look out in the local newspapers for the job advertisements!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

X-Rays, Goodbyes and Visits

Hi all, sorry for being late with the blog posts – the past two weeks have been full of action! So our x-ray arrived the week before last, and I promised I’d show you pictures, so here they are:
Imogen in her lead apron.
We had the Seychelles Veterinary Services over on the Friday and the day before we also had Arlene, a local private vet.

Mark, the X-Ray technician showing vets how to use the X-Ray

 We still need to work out a few kinks in getting the exposure setting right, but I think our first tries were pretty good!

Stinky from above
Last week I started training my replacement, Mili, Our first trapping session resulted in us catching two Black Mud Turtles in one trap! It’s a great start to her future trapping sessions. One terrapin was a female that had previously caught, named Alex (Irma’s first terrapin in a trap) and the second was a male who hadn’t been seen before. His new name is Pingu.

Mili with Pingu.
On Wednesday we had a group form the Botanical Garden of around 30 children, it was only a short visit, but it was a good way to introduce Mili to the social and public awareness side of our work.

Thursday marked the beginning of our 2-day Junior Conservation Session with the Takamaka School Wildlife Club. The kids got to walk around the wetland and the beach on their first day. We also said goodbye to Haze and Stinky and we were joined by an English family.
Stinky wandering off into the wild!

On Friday we organised a beach clean-up on Anse Intendance and on Anse Petit Police and then we finished with the kids painting and drawing inside the centre.

Our kid-themed week has continued to today, with the Save Our Seas Foundation having their Academy By The Sea visiting the centre. The wetland work that the hotel is doing is obviously beneficial to the birds, yesterday I saw three Night Herons in one place and today the children have gotten to see at least 6 Grey Herons, a Yellow Bittern and two baby Green-Backed Herons.
Night Herons in the wetland.
Academy by the Sea!

Please read the blog next week to hear more about our adventures! Also, check us out on Twitter @MCSSWildlife or on Facebook – Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sea Turtle Festival

Well the past week has been action-packed! On Friday, my colleague Savi Leblond officially opened his snorkel trail at Cerf Island Resort. It’s a beautiful trail situated in the marine park, and it promotes stricter enforcement of the marine park policies. Nearby, the hotel L’Habitation is following the resort’s example by contracting Savi to create a snorekelling trail for them too!

Also on Friday, the Seychelles Sea Turtle Festival was officially opened at the Natural History Museum.

The festival itself took place on Saturday at Beau Vallon, and the MCSS stall was a great success – with us staff members dressed up as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I’m happy to report that there were many families present at the event, and lots of children interested in learning more facts about turtles. In fact, at our stall we made sure to encourage visitors to the stall to colour in drawings and fill in interesting facts about turtles that they had learned that day!

On Monday we had a visit from Friends of the Museum  -  the children came into the centre and learned about the work we do and turtle conservation before walking around the wetland. After lunch, we had turtle games on the beach, and I think its safe to say that the children had lots of fun!

In other news, our x-ray has arrived! Mark, the X-Ray technician from PLH Medical Supplies is here to set it up and give some training sessions to staff and vets alike over the course of this week. Read the blog next week to find out more about the training!