Surveys, sun, and sweat!
Week 2 and the group has experienced all of our surveys at least once now! Mud skips, bird watching, Coco de mer walks, shark tagging, tracking & turtle nest checks and excavations!
Mud skips involves (unsurprisingly) getting down and dirty in the mangrove fields! We wade around in the mud finding specifically locate poles and once located check salinity and temperature of each pole to check the health of the Mangrove trees in each area.
With bird watching we go to specific areas on the island and sit down (luxury) for ten/twenty minutes at a time and wait to see what type of birds we can see and hear. If we can see a bird we have to identify it and if possible take a few photos. We look to see how they are behaving & if they are nesting in that specific area. We have actually found a new bird living on the island, A DUCK! Which we managed to get a couple of photos of wading through the muddy mangroves, we’re not completely sure why it’s decided to make Curieuse it’s home but we are intrigued to find out what he/she is doing here as there are no other ducks on the island.
Now Coco de mer involves going off the set paths around the island and in to the dense bush to find the Coco de Mer trees that have been previously surveyed on trips by groups before us. We check the trees every three months (as they take a long time to do almost anything!) and just make sure that the tree is healthy, whether or not it is male or female and see if it is growing any nuts. When we get there we split in to two groups to try and cover as much ground as possible in one session. Once we’ve found the tree one of the group needs to climb the tree to check the leaves & the fruits. Because it’s such a large tree you can sit on the leaves comfortably and it holds your weight without a problem! A very bizarre but fun experience.
Shark pup tagging is an early rising experience. We have to be up and out by 5am as we have to be packed away by 8am when the tourists arrive (we don’t want the tourists to start trying to catch their own sharks). We set off before sunrise and have a small walk to get to the shark bay and we have to be very quiet and keep our head torches either off or on red. Then we set up the equipment as quietly as possible and start to go around the shark bay with our nets and try to catch as many Lemon Shark pups as possible. This has varying degrees of success but is always a fun experience.
With a turtle walk (a “wurtle”) we have two different places where we can go. We have a long wurtle (leaving at 8am and back around 4pm) and a short wurtle (leaving around 1pm and returning by 3/4pm). Due to recent weather conditions the short wurtle is a lot less successful as immense rain and wind has moved a vast amount of sand and destroyed a lot of previously laid nests but there are still a few along the coast line which have survived and we are keeping an eager eye on.
On the long wurtle we go to Grande Anse beach to the north east of the island and we start to look for any kind of turtle activity. We search for: turtle tracks that lead up to potential nests, previously tagged nests, baby hatchling tracks out of the nest & if we’re very lucky we get to see adult turtles wading up the beach to create and lay a new nest of eggs (Where we all sit down and watch the turtles behaviour all the while being very quiet so as not to disturb her & staying out of her line of sight)! This is one of the most awesome experiences you can have on Curieuse, we all love the turtles!! But maybe not quite as much as the hatchlings as they have immense cuteness on their side!!!!
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