Friday 8th July – Thursday 14th July 2022:
On Friday afternoon, I tagged along with the leatherback volunteers to assist with some nest excavations along Levera beach; my role was mainly to observe and write down the data to give the volunteers a more hands-on learning experience, as they will be carrying out excavations over the next few weeks. In preparation for the remote island, Saturday was spent finishing off some last-minute tasks, such as washing out our water containers and packing my own personal belongings for camping. On Sunday morning, we packed up the bus with all our supplies, travelled to a local beach to load up the boat and meet with the rest of the team, and headed across to the remote island! As we arrived, we had to carry everything across a stretch of volcanic rock (quite wobbly work!), which took a little time and a lot of teamwork. Once we reached the hawksbill nesting site, Kate and I spent the rest of the day pitching tents, building a kitchen area, hanging washing lines and hammocks, and unpacking / reorganising research and food supplies. With our camp being so close to the shore, there is very little shelter from the elements, so in the meantime, the local guys were busy setting up tarps to shelter us from the rain and building a sort of windbreak with palm leaves on the far side of the kitchen. We then headed for a walk down the beach to carry out a quick track survey (looking for any signs of recent turtle activity) and saw our first hawksbill, though she soon returned to the sea without attempting to nest (called a ‘false crawl’). By the time we had finished, we were all quite tired and hungry, so we cooked a simple dinner and headed to bed relatively early after a long day. For the next 4 weeks, there will be 4 team members on the island at a time, conducting night surveys every night, with the team being rotated every 5 days. Monday was spent finding my bearings, unpacking and getting comfortable, before carrying out our first night survey. Similar to the leatherback night surveys, we work in pairs, heading out on alternating shifts between about 7:30pm and 1:30am, though this tends to vary a little based on the turtle activity that we have. Over the next 4 nights, we managed to collect data and blood samples from 3 nesting hawksbills and recorded additional activities from our morning track surveys (conducted between 6:00am and 7:00am every day). Having been very lucky with the weather, my days have been spent reading, exploring the area, snorkelling, and topping up the night survey kit where necessary. Foodwise, we eat something simple for breakfast and lunch, and have been eating various curry, pasta and soup dishes for dinner, with the local guys going freediving every day to catch fresh fish (we were spoiled with mackerel one evening!). After meals, we wash up our pots and utensils in a bucket using saltwater and then give them a quick rinse in the sea, as we need to save our limited freshwater for drinking and cooking. All in all, a great start to the island work!
‘All research activities by Ocean Spirits Inc. are carried out under governmental research permits provided by the Grenada Fisheries Division.’
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Following on from the collaboration project with Ocean Spirits, University of Plymouth, St. Georges University and OMEF, 5 turtles in total have been fitted with
Grenada’s beaches and coastal waters support nesting and foraging aggregations of endangered green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and of critically endangered hawksbills turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). During
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