One month on base – the shortest but one of the best months of my life! While early morning wakeups and oats with instant coffee for breakfast are becoming second nature to the group, the unknowingness of what the days surveys are going to bring will never get old.
A highlight of the turtle surveys this month had to be our very special hike to Grand Anse. Most of us sleeping and sunbathing after our routine 30 minute check of the beach were completely unsuspecting of the not one, but two nests of over 50 hatchlings stumbling, one over the other to make their way to the ocean. Not even an hour before we had to leave, one of us was doing the routine walk of the beach to check for turtle activity when he stumbled across a ‘baby tortoise’ that was ‘too small to be a baby tortoise’. Hearing this, we all ran over to see tiny turtle baby’s clambering over one another to get out of their nests and get their first steps into the ocean. We then helped them on their way to find the ocean, and watched every last one disappear into the waves, watching them like proud parents when their kids leave home for university. It has to be said that they definitely knew it was our Science Officers birthday and had to make an appearance especially to make it her ‘best birthday ever’!
Sharking has definitely been a favourite survey of mine over the past month. Standing in the water watching the net, apprehensive as to when you will hear that always exciting call of ‘LEMONNNNNNN’, followed by slow motion running *sting ray shuffle* through the water with the dip nets to capture the juvenile lemon sharks for data collection. Getting to help this vulnerable species, and work so close with them is so rewarding, particularly after all the data is collected and you get to release the shark back into the water yourself. Watching them swimming off healthily and happily (although probably less so happily) will definitely always be a favorite part of this trip.
The sentence that follows ratting is usually, ‘at least I’m not on net repair’ however saying this, it has also been an extremely rewarding and enjoyable aspect to the experience. As a fairly recent introduction to Curieuse, the rat eradication project is already proving to be extremely beneficial to aiding the other endemic species of the Seychelles to thrive. Being able to see species that are now thriving more due to the decrease in the rat population, such as the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, make hiking through the unknown to find traps, all the worthwhile. It can definitely be said working up close and first hand with such projects, really shows the change we are making for the better.