Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hello Beth!!

Hi all!

My name is Beth, I currently study Marine Biology at the University of Southampton so the Banyan Tree Turtle and Terrapin Project was the perfect place for me to get some field experience. Since joining MCSS last week, I feel like I am already a true member of the team, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.

Picture 1: Beth and our terrapin Truck at the WCRC
During my first week, I have been carrying out bird surveys (my favourite bird so far is the Seychelles Blue Pigeon), sea turtle patrols, daily terrapin catches and talking to members of the public informing them about what goes on at the centre whilst making descriptive tags for the exhibition room. It has been a busy first week!

On my first day, we caught 6 terrapins in one catch! We brought them all back to the centre for a health check-up where we weighed and measured all individuals. We identified them using photo-identification (to discover their unique name) and discovered one had never been caught before! I had the privilege of giving him a name, after a lot of thought I went with Buzz.


Picture 2: Buzz 
Unfortunately it is not turtle nesting season but it is still vital to check all the beaches weekly for any signs of Hawksbill or Green turtles. I have learned a lot already about how to identify sea turtle tracks, find a nest and how to make sure she successfully lays her eggs and gets back into the ocean unharmed. I am gaining more independence in carrying out these tasks so my confidence is increasing daily. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 weeks will bring! 



Monday, July 31, 2017

Seasonal Report

The 2016-2017 nesting season has come to an end and we have already entered into the 2017-2018 nesting season, although at the moment it is very quiet  with no  Hawksbill turtles nesting so far, except for a few Green turtle tracks found over a month ago on the main nesting beaches.

For the 2016-2017  season, we recorded 370 emergence on the 14 monitored beaches, along with 164 nests.
MCSS also had the chance to encounter 40 nesting turtles, which is always very interesting and we get to collect some data on them; carapace length and width, check for any injuries or abnormalities, check if they have a tag number and also get good pictures of the left and right side of the face for identification. The best task though is to try and do an egg count as they are laying...this can be very tricky as sometimes you can have 3 or 4 egg coming out at the same time..and this happens fast, so the final count is always an approximate count.

The MCSS team is now looking forward for the peak of the nesting season for 2017-2018, new volunteers and interns will be coming in and they will be keeping an update of all the highlights of the season.
Other than that, we will soon be celebrating the Sea Turtle Festival Seychelles and the team is ready to participate in the March and spread sea turtle awareness in the country.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Droning Adventure!!

This week, the MCSS Banyan Tree team started their first droning adventure. 
Accessible satellite imagery of Google maps, GIS and Google earth is either outdated or holds insufficient image processing quality. As we wanted to analyze the current hydrological situation, habitat types, invasive plant species distribution and vegetation status of the wetland area at Anse Intendance, we had to create or own, high definition map of the study site Anse Intendance. 
Currently, drones are a cutting edge technology and are mainly used by civilians, media, engineers and researchers. Drone based imagery and video material is mostly used for aerial photography, mapping, surveillance, transport and filming. 
The application of drones opens new, cheap and quick research possibilities such as the surveillance of inaccessible areas and shy animals, the production of 3D maps and vegetation maps, the creation of digital surface or terrain models, anti-poaching controls, animal counts, sustainable land use management techniques and even for marine conservation measures. 

The Anse Intendance wetland was and will be mapped through a Phantom 4 pro drone which out-competes our old drones through an extremely long battery life of 20 minutes, an automatic mapping application which strongly facilitates the whole mapping progress, the automatic recording of GPS points and a camera which has a resolution of 20 megapixel. The drone was and will be flown at a height of 80 m and with a front\side picture overlap of 60/70 % respectively. The high resolution and quality of the acquired orthomosaic will allows us to define different habitat types and spot invasive plant species. This information is crucial for any restoration work which includes for example native plant nurseries and invasive species removal. 



Monday, July 10, 2017

Milli's final blog

Milli's final blog 

Hello again! 
Another week has passed and sadly, my work experience is officially over.  
Just as predicted, there was a lot going on in the second week too;  
On Monday I visited Cerf Island to take a look at Savi's project. After the beach cleaning he taught the volunteers and me about corals, reefs, rays, seaweed and loads of other interesting facts. Afterwards, we observed sea urchins, sea stars, fish and the coral nursery on the snorkel trail and went for a little hike to the cemetery and the viewpoint, from which we had a beautiful view of St. Anne's, Ile Moyenne, Long and Round. 
Back on Mahé, terrapin traps were set up at different sites in the Anse Forbans wetland, which we checked every day, but there were no terrapins caught until Friday. Three black mud individuals had been captured by our traps, who will be measured for identification today (Monday 10th).

 
(The black mud terrapins that crawled into our traps on Friday) 

 
(One of the caught terrapins) 

On Wednesday I joined Vanessa for the Turtle patrol, but it's currently not the season for Hawksbill turtles so there were no tracks to be seen. It was educational nevertheless, because she told me about the turtle's nesting behavior, how to tell Green Turtles and Hawksbills apart by their tracks and experienced cases of poaching. 
The rest of the week consisted mainly of checking the traps, working on a new website for MCSS and starting with my big school report. 
All in all - even though it was only for a far too short time, I learned a lot about turtles, terrapins, wetlands, corals, how to use drones to create maps and gained more experience than I could have at any other workplace – I am absolutely happy and pleased with my choice of school internship! 
Greetings, 
Milena