During the past three weeks I have completed a week of night work, which involves patrolling the turtle nesting beaches and taking part in night surveys from 9pm to 6am. I have also spent a week out “West” at our base in Akdeniz, where I predominantly took part in day work. This involved monitoring nests for possible nest predation, recording female turtle activity on the beaches and locating any new nests that have been laid. On one of my final days in Akdeniz we came across a new Loggerhead sea turtle nest that was laid the night before, an exciting but unusual event having arrived at the tail end of the nesting season. It was a privilege to be able to mark up and name one of the last nests of the season. I have also enjoyed communal living at base camp, constantly meeting new people with similar interests and making new friends has definitely been a highlight.
Green Sea Turtle Hatchling
I have also thoroughly enjoyed the tourism and educational outreach work that the Marine Turtle Conservation Project takes part in. This includes public nest excavations, hatchling releases and night tours. I found presenting at my first public excavation very rewarding, having a large crowd of spectators anxious to see their first turtle hatchling definitely creates an exciting atmosphere. In this particular instance the nest we were excavating was approximately one metre deep, we received a huge cheer from the crowd when we reached the bottom of the nest! The public hatchling releases are equally rewarding and have a magical feel about them. This is where the public have the chance to release a sea turtle hatchling into the sea and be directly involved with our conservation program. Witnessing the excitement and wonderment on people’s faces, not to mention the chance to inspire the next generation, will never get old for me.
This leads me on to my best moment whilst volunteering for the project. A couple of nights ago during a public hatchling release I got into conversation with an incredibly inquisitive and excited retired couple, who were merrily strolling back from the beach after the release. They went on to tell me that releasing a turtle hatchling had been on their “bucket list” for several years, and they were thrilled to have been able to achieve it. Having the chance to not only create life long memories for our visitors but to increase awareness for the importance of marine turtle conservation, is an incredibly rewarding experience for all volunteers and is something I know I will never forget!
In closing may I say that I would very much recommend anyone to come and visit us to take part in a public release or excavation, or even apply to volunteer for the project! All the information is on our website : http://www.seaturtle.org/mtrg/projects/cyprus/