Friday, June 26, 2015

Visits and Farewells (pt. 1)

 These past two weeks have just been one big blur – filled with visits and goodbyes! I feel like it’s too much for just one blog post, so read more about it on Tuesday and have a lovely weekend. Irma has stopped volunteering with us due to commitments to other NGOs, but we wish her the best on her next few adventures! I’ll leave you with her last blog-post, describing her second-to-last week.

Last Friday (12th June) as I came in I got news that we were going to the Botanical Garden for the second time to see the terrapins that are being kept there. Last time we didn’t get to see them but this time luck was on our side. As we got to the terrapins we began to grab one by one to measure and weigh them but the task was not easy at all. As soon as we entered the water it began clouding up with sediment and we spent a lot of time trying to spot the terrapins before we could actually get one. After looking for quite a while we eventually gave up and left with the data of only three of these animals, two of which were Yellow-Bellied Mud Turtles. It was disappointing but there was nothing we could do as the sediment showed no signs of settling and time was not on our side.

Monday 15th started off well; we had patrol as usual and after lunch we said goodbye to baby Miracle who we will sadly miss. It took time to find Miracle as he was hiding underneath rocks in his tank. But as we set it down near the wetland where he was found he didn’t take long to race down into the water. We hope to have an encounter with Miracle in the future when he’s bigger and we can finally clear our doubt on what kind of species he is.

On Saturday 20th we had visitors at the centre! Banyan Tree had a Children’s Day for their staff, and all of the staff members with kids showed up for a tour of the farm and Wildlife Centre.

Please read the blog next week to hear more about all of our other visitors at the centre!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Terra Terra Terrapins (Irma and Rachel)

Miracle is still being shy but seems to be eating well. Rachel and I dug holes last week for the new insect traps and as we finished covering up the trap my eyes caught a terrapin swimming. I sprung after it and caught it, but it put up a lot of fight. We brought it to the Centre for routine measurements with trouble as it kept fighting me in the process. I started thinking it didn’t like me as Rachel did great with it.  She turned out to be a recap whose name was Winnie surprisingly; I was going to name it Grumpy.

Insect Trap 1


It rained quite a lot during the long weekend and the water level was a lot higher than usual when we came back on Monday making it impossible to take water changes. But I kept thinking this might be a good day for terrapin sightings – sadly, this was not the case! But thankfully our insect-traps were still safe and sound even though one was impossible to access due to water level rise.

As I came in on Tuesday there was good news. The minute I sat foot in the office Rachel said there were two terrapins at the gate that we needed to see to. I was amazed – two sightings in the early morning! We again did routine measurements and released them. One of them was a recap that we immediately recognized due to the nail varnish on its carapace, and the other was a new individual! Both were Black Mud Turtles and quite small, but the extra information is welcome!

Ed the recapture
As Irma has explained above, this week’s been quite eventful! On Wednesday and Thursday I was out of the office attending a two-day workshop by members of the ZSL Edge Team, which was organized by Dr Rachel Bristol. EDGE species are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered and apparently we have an unusually high number of EDGE species in Seychelles. It was very informative and a pleasure to attend, and I am highly grateful for the experience.

Dr Rachel Bristol and ZSL EDGE team, Rachel and Olivia

Monday was also World Ocean’s Day for all those of you who didn’t know, so if you didn’t do anything on Monday, maybe take the time this weekend to go to the beach! If you’re feeling particularly proactive, maybe bring a bin-bag and pick up any rubbish you see lying around near or on the beach. Only around 30% of the litter in the sea actually stays on the surface, so there’s another 70% we’re just not seeing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Morning Miracle (Irma)

The days at the Centre keep getting better and better. Today I worked on my display for the terrapins which have left us…almost done. At 11:00 am we left for turtle patrol, then we had lunch, we started back to the Centre after lunch when we ran into one of the gardeners. Excitedly telling Rachel he was looking for her, rhe eached out his hand and placed a baby terrapin into the palm of her hand. Well if you want to get Rachel excited that’s how you it…

He is the cutest thing ever and is the third baby terrapin found so far….he has a different appearance compared to Project which makes us believe he’s a different species. We’ve weighed and measured him, now he is in his own beautiful tank.

Baby Miracle. His flesh and shell are much darker than Project's.

Irma with baby Miracle.
Boniface who was excited to here we have another juvenile came to visit our baby Miracle as I named it. Miracle seems to be very agile but is now hiding in his tank, and I’m excited to learn more about this little fellow and hope we end up figuring out his species.