Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tree Frog, SYAH and Goodbyes (Irma's post!)

This last week has been more productive than others. I was given a number of tasks to carry out and though challenging I kept on going and I can see myself improving and progressing each day. We had a group of visitors last week called SYAH, which I am a member of. The morning started off quite good as I saw my first tree frog, he was adorable.

Seychelles tree frog
By 10 am the SYAH members had arrived and our day officially began. We started with a visit of the Centre itself whereby they looked and read the different posters and display. Then we straight away went for a beach cleanup along the intendance beach. The amount of rubbish we found was surprising as I didn’t expect to see much as it is a very nice looking beach occupied by tourists. We found all sorts ranging from flip-flops to wine bottles. This caused a lot of concerns towards the amount of rubbish and the places where rubbish was being thrown. When we were done we sorted out the rubbish separating pet bottles, cans and glass to give to the hotel to be recycled.
SYAH in the wetland at Banyan Tree

Picking up rubbish in 3 different bags for sorting.
We headed back to the Centre for a small break, which was followed by a lovely presentation from Rachel about corals and the effect of climate change. This was accompanied by many questions and views from the audience, which showed great interest and concerns about the matter. Then it was time for them to visit our most important part of the Centre; the terrapins. Like everyone else so far, they were pretty amazed by them. SYAH ended their visit with a tour around the garden guided by Mr Boniface Lim, the chief of engineering of the hotel. The staff was thanked for a wonderful experience.

Also this week we said goodbye to one of the terrapins: Rambo, a black mud turtle. It was decided that he was all better and it was time for him to be released. I was sad to see him go as I had grown attached to the terrapin. Now we they are but three, which we hope become as strong and stable as Rambo.

Irma missing Rambo already

So long Rambo!

Friday, May 22, 2015


To celebrate today the Ministry of Environment held a tourism seminar for Biodiversity and Sustainability. I went, representing MCSS and Banyan Tree and one of my MCSS colleagues also attended the seminar to represent the Cerf Island habitat mapping/snorkelling trail project. A few of us had to give short presentations; all in the spirit of sustainable tourism and the conservation of biodiversity. One thing in particular I took from today’s seminar is the commitment of various organisations and hotel businesses to encourage a greener environment. As I learned today, 50% of utility bills in Seychelles are from the tourism industry – so any effort to reduce that energy usage, no matter how big or small, makes a massive difference in the grand scheme of things. If today you decide to celebrate Biodiversity Day, please include in your plans an attempt to reduce your impact on the environment.
MCSS Cerf Island Presentation
As another consequence of Biodiversity Day, I’d like to announce the happy news that Rambo will be released from our care and back into the wild as of this coming Monday. While we’ll miss him, his weight has remained stable over the course of the past few weeks and we have observed that his eyesight does not appear to significantly affect his quality of life. Our permit allows us to keep terrapins in captivity for rehabilitation purposes and I’m glad that we will be returning another healthy animal to the wild.
Rambo out for a swim because of the wet weather

The white crystallisation in his eyes will never go away
Please read next week to hear more about Rambo’s farewell!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

MY FIRST TERRAPIN (And Irma's first blog post!)

It’s been two weeks since I started volunteering at the Centre and yesterday it was only Vanessa and I. The few days I’ve been at the Centre have been amazing, I fell in love with the terrapins on my first day at the Centre which was an orientation, they were one of the main reasons I decided to stay and volunteer.

I have learned a lot of new things during this time, and developed some new skills. No matter how slimy and smelly I get, it has been always worth the work. Rachel has been a great teacher and I learn a whole lot more everyday from her.

One of my responsibilities of the day was to retrieve the traps from yesterday, and after a disappointing results for the first two I pulled the last trap towards me expecting the same and amazingly a black mud turtle was staring up at me. It was the cutest thing ever, I was so excited for having retrieved my first terrapin Vanessa thought I was joking. That there made my day. We weighed, measured it and took pictures and marked it to be released as it showed no sign of unfitness.

Other than that we had to do a bird survey in the field. And feed the terrapins, as I distributed the food in the water Rambo who was on his way to the mud part area did a detour and tried to catch a food stick, then another one and another. Barely an hour later all the food was gone from his tank compared to usual when he doesn’t show much interest in the food during feed.

Today was very accomplished; perfectly ending the week.

Irma's first terrapin - her name is Alex!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kids, terrapins and hexacopters

Perseverance school came in yesterday, and the children were fantastic. We brought them around the farm and the centre, where they met the terrapins and Vanessa gave them a presentation on turtles. After their lunch, we played a game to get the kids to understand more about turtle nesting behaviour and the effort it takes. Half of them threw themselves into the sand to imitate turtles coming up onto the beach and dug their nests with their feet and the other half were in charge of making little sand-balls (the turtle eggs). Overall I think it was a massive success, the kids had loads of fun and so did we!

Other than school visits, we’ve had two terrapins be brought to the centre as hotel staff saw them on the side of the road. Both were sub-adult Black Mud Turtles coming from the same area. Thanks to the rain we’ve been getting in the mornings this week, the terrapins seem a lot more active, including the ones at the centre.

Speaking of the centre, I’m sad to report that the tropicbird chick we were supposed to collect on Monday died on Sunday evening. Tropicbird chicks (any chick really) are very fragile and in the end it refused to eat. But in happier news, Project is continuing to gain weight and he’s beginning to get dark patterns on his plastron much like a Black Mud Turtle. He’s also becoming increasingly curious and pokes his head out of the water whenever we pass by, begging for food.

We managed to get the hexacopter up yesterday, much to our delight! Soon Vanessa will be training all of us to use the drones, which will facilitate us with turtle patrol and mapping the wetland.

Read next week’s blog to find out more about Project and the other terrapins and to hear from Irma, our volunteer!