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!"