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The camp wakes to scenes of destruction…….

By Sam Hale 1 month ago

The camp wakes to scenes of destruction. The BBQ lies on the floor and all the logs used for seating have been brushed aside, with noticeable ease. We briefly ponder the identity of the culprit but soon get distracted by breakfast; everyone rushes to be at the front of the queue. Breakfast, as usual, is a variety of healthy options; I take the freshly made fruit salad and scrambled eggs. Another volunteer mentions they might make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, everyone else cheers them on.

The culprit for the destruction of the base is revealed halfway through breakfast. A huge presence enters the common area and everyone laughs as we realize that the vandal is one of the resident giant tortoises that often live on base. This particular tortoise is named McGreggor and happens to be very fond of orange peel; the very reason he’s joined us for breakfast. After eating his fill the friendly giant lumbers off to resume his favorite activity; eating leaves.

After breakfast everyone gets ready for the morning task they’ve been assigned to. It is a fantastic morning and those in the snorkeling group are hoping to glimpse a shark, whitetips and lemons are the most probable. I have a full day turtle survey at Grand Anse, the largest beach on the island of Curieuse.

We begin the hike to the beach at 08:00, it takes roughly an hour and a half as we are waylaid by many of the other giant tortoises that live on the island. We check another smaller beach en route to Grand Anse, no nesting turtles are present so we move on swiftly.

We arrive at our destination at 09:30 and after a quick drink we start to patrol the beach. Almost immediately I spot turtle tracks a little way in front of me, I jog forward eager to spot the creature that made them; all I can see is a rock in the sand. I hear a shout from behind me calling me back and I realise what I thought was a rock is actually a nesting female turtle. The group is very excited, we didn’t expect to see a turtle this early, it feels like this will be a good day.

We collect all the necessary data about the turtle, such and track width and shell dimensions, and then watch her disguise her nest and then hurry back into the sea. In high spirits we continue the beach patrol, along the way we are pestered by the ever hungry skinks, the small lizard like creatures that are abundant on the island.

We finish the day having worked three nesting turtles as well as seeing another which decided not to nest. We are ecstatic as it is rare to see four turtles in a single patrol, we start the trek home excited to tell the others about our day.