Thursday, January 26, 2012

25/01/12 A Curieuse Update!

Week two, our first full week in camp began with high expectations following our first week of obscene luck and good fortune. We were not left disappointed!

We all had our first experience of surveying coco de mer’s which, while seeming to be an imposing task (with half the trees looking inaccessible and very high!), proved to be great fun. It was a rare occasion where most staff and all volunteers went out together; this made for a really good group atmosphere and allowed many volunteers to get to know some staff members a lot better. Between people sliding down hills, hiking up through the undergrowth and generally reliving childhoods of climbing and mucking about, many trees also got surveyed and we returned successful.

To what seems like disbelieve for most staff, our 100% strike rate of seeing hatchlings on turtle walks has continued. This may be good fortune, or more likely down to the 6th sense of April, whose ability to find nests of just hatching turtles underground without so much as a glance is unrivalled across the world! Whatever it is we are all very grateful as we have been privileged to see whole nests erupt in baby hatchlings, as well as saving a few stragglers in nests that have already hatched. One particular nest springs straight to mind because as we arrived the first turtle was just emerging. This turtle was then followed by around 150 others all in the space of five minutes. As we helped any stragglers on their way down the beach, photos were taken and the excitement grew and grew. This all culminated in the writer of this blog ending up in the water fully clothed, underwear and socks included, floating beside the last one as it made its way out to sea. In all we have seen one hundred and seventy one hatchlings this week and the list grows day by day.

As volunteers we also got our first experience of the Islands party night which is now on Thursdays. We were all looking forward to this as the weeks work (as well as further) acclimatising had taken its toll a little and the break was very much welcomed. The volunteers dressed in tribal theme, essentially made from anything we could find in the trees around base and the staff dressed as sharks. All except our Base Manager Dan, who went as what can only be described as a confusing attempt to strap the resuscitation dummy to his back...we later learnt this was meant to be a Siamese twin, but we are still not sure why! Either way we all tucked into a much needed BBQ and stayed up till the early hours and had a very enjoyable evening.

Friday was our first opportunity to visit Praslin and have a look what was on offer. As nice as the base food is, I can say that all the volunteers were looking forward to a meal out and buying some much needed supplies, mainly consisting of branded drinks and mosquito repellent! The day was very relaxing as we spent the morning on the beach, had lunch at a beachside restaurant and then hit the shops in the afternoon. Returning to base with multiple bags of shopping and much lighter wallets, we all spent the evening together, cooked and had a few more beverages to pass the night away.

As well as Coco de Mer trees we also survey the mangroves on the island. These provide a habitat to so many juvenile fish, sharks and rays as well as so many crabs which seem to populate the entirety of the island. We were all looking forward to seeing this wildlife but were not aware of the rather smelly and muddy conditions the mangroves create. It took a while to adjust but just as everything else, daunting or tricky conditions turned into fun. Everyone was covered in mud, smelled awful but nobody minded by the end. Seeing Vicky up her waist in mud and watching Michelle step into a small hole that ended up over her knees really made our day. On top of this we got to see a baby lemon shark as well as some baby eagle rays, so the whole day was a great experience and good fun to match.

Tune in next week to read the next instalment of Curieuse action!