Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dawn green from 2 nights ago

A couple of nights ago we had a green turtle lay unusually late in the night, beginning at 05.10. Although annoying it lets us take some good pictures!
Becca x

Monday, June 29, 2009

More pics from Sam!!!

Penny's cheesecake rocks our world!

So after a tough week with all the turtles in the Med seemingly visiting Alagadi on yesterday’s changeover we were rewarded with a pool party at Penny’s, everyone’s favourite event! Enough food to feed a small army was presented and as usual we tucked in with full force gorging until we could no longer move! Thank you so much Penny, I’m sure you know how much we love your food by now, such a good change from courgettes!

Penny treated the volunteers, all except me, who was stuck on tourist duty all alone in the Goatshed, to games! The turtle egg hunt was a great success and everyone was gloating with their prizes, Sam was especially proud of his wine, packet of milky ways and a packet of biscuits, which he kindly gave away to the Germans who failed….

Becca, Sam and myself were first on Iki so headed over very slowly as the size of our stomachs was preventing us from going any quicker. It started out as a quiet night and all was well with us walking slowly and quietly backwards and forwards trying to digest, when we were rudely interrupted by bright lights in Iki car park. We stumbled back to sleepy rock avoiding Turk holes on the way and sent Sam over the rocks to investigate. We had seen a torch heading out around the rocks so expected maybe a late night fisherman or two….unfortunately what Sam met was far, far worse! Becca and myself hung back in anticipation hoping not to see the three flashes warning of imminent death from Sam. After what felt like an eternity he returned triumphant from over the rocks with a half naked Turkish man and English women in tow they had clearly decided that the rocks were an appropriate place for those kinds of shenanigans! Becca tried to hold it together but laughed almost hysterically at the Turkish man with a rather round paunch and tight pants and shoes on! Fortunately we were quickly rid of them and back to turtle patrol.

Today has been a day of progress, cage making took the fore and we now have plenty on white domes to protect our nests. The Monday beach clean is currently in progress and hopefully the volunteers are not suffering too much!

That’s all for now, other than to say that the turtles are still coming ashore thick and fast and we are now up to 85 nests on Alagadi alone, there’s potential for this number to almost double as we are only roughly half way through nesting and our first hatchlings could potentially break through the sand a couple of weeks from now!

Emma xx

Friday, June 26, 2009

An update on the arrabada!

Numbers from last night's craziness just in - on Alagadi 1 alone there were 8 nests (3 loggers, 5 greens), 5 u-turns and 5 false attempts. On Alagadi 2 (iki) there was one nest, 5 u-turns and 2 attempts. Nice one to those on the beach (except the people who need to learn the 24 hour clock!) and to those who typed up the data for an hour today (after too many jamjar mojitos last night)! Seemingly all the turtles in the world were on Alagadi last night as the daywork ladies had only one u-turn and one attempt to contend with this morning. On the volunteer side we say goodbye to Celli for a week and hello to Michele, our resident german from last year, and Mehmet, our resident Turk also from last year. Hosgeldiniz guys. Turk, Turk, Turk it up! Tonight is our much loved boss man Mr Robbo Robbo's night off so it's left to the rest of us to man the beach and hope that nothing goes shockingly, horrifically wrong during this time. Not on my watch people.

Thanks to people at home for keeping us up to date with current affairs, the sad news about MJ came through last night and in tribute we will all be moonwalking the beach tonight and having a one minute radio silence in between turtles. Heee heee, shamone big man.

Becca x

Mini-arabada / Litter progress with Belediyisi

8 nests on Alagadi now taking us up to 73! This was the busiest night I have seen in 5 seasons of night work here. The team pulled together working hard through the night, communicating well so that nothing got missed and we were off the beach by 5.30. Very pleased. Though, our guests were bit of a dissapointment as the majority only stayed to see the two loggerheads that nested within the first hour of darkness. Even with 5 green turtles on the beach at the same time digging, they could not be tempted to stay to see one lay, they don't know what they missed! Very generous in leaving us donations though that will keep us in oats and a roof over our heads. Our faithful companions Penny and Sally stuck it out until dawn and at one point were even left with a clipboard to monitor a turtle. I stuggle to count the number of turtle encounters I had but at the end of the night at the midpoint we found the tell tail track of a logerhead that had emerged, headed directly towards the group unseen and u-turned back into the see. We concluded that Sally's snoring had put her off, although I don't think Sally had chance for any shut eye in all the commotion.

A huge thanks to Penny and Sally for your help, cake, and beach banter. Also to Alagadi residents Pat and John for your help in securing our turtle merchandise.

It looks like the belediyesi (council) have finally come round after all our best efforts and are emptying the bins from the beach car park, yay! Hopefully now we can focus our efforts more on the turtles and less on clearing the rubbish from the carpark.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More pics from Sabine!

Green on Alagadi 2 (iki) at dawn.

Jimbob's night wear.

Three Iki amigos: Gill, Boner, Jimbob.

West is best

First day out west, Sam and I were met by the smelliest dead cow which had somehow made its way onto the beach, causing the walk of West 2 to become somewhat of an obstacle course, avoiding breathing for a while and cautiously testing the air after passing. Sam and I had at least one nest for the first few days, with Ainslie’s walks being somewhat less successful she was starting to lose faith. However a hot morning on Monster lead to a tired and thirsty Sam and I waiting at the beach bar (on a beach there are rarely people?!?!) trying to amuse ourselves while waiting for ages while Ainslie measured up her many turtle activities on her own. This led to Sam and I sunbathing, exploring the beach bar, complaining about their poor tiling and using their showers to cool off. Several days our journey back home intercepted the Turkish army playing their war games, this consists of sitting in their many tanks behind small bushes. As none of us spoke particularly good Turkish, and weren’t sure how they would feel about our intrusion, we drove quietly trying not to do anything wrong. As Sam doesn’t actually let his camera leave his hand and photos of army personnel and land is forbidden, he obviously thought it would be a good idea to take photos.

A trip to the supermarket was filled with much hilarity as Sam found sweet corn with decidedly moustache-looking growths from the ends of them. Persuading Ainslie we needed some, the Chuckle Brothers later made an appearance in the Guzelyurt household.

Trying to fill our afternoons, and as the house was ridiculously hot, we decided to go off on a drive to see what we could find. We found a ‘Wooden faces of Cyprus’ exhibition, the army border to the South side and the most amazing views we were ‘forbidden’ to take photos of.

Turtle activity remained relatively busy, with several nests each day, ending in a disappointing find of two predated nests on Message. Large metal pegs are now being used to hold the wire cages down for forcefully than sticks, which will hopefully lessen the threat of predation by stray dogs.

Finding out my degree results, a celebration was planned, camping on the beach. Great, or so we thought. Dampness and a chilling wind meant our high spirits were flattened and a sleepless night followed.

After our morning on the beach on change over day, we ‘treated’ ourselves to a visit to St Hiliarion castle. Walking up the millions of stairs in the searing mid-day heat, oh what a treat. Amazing views and a good laugh at Sam taking so many photos of himself meant it was an end to a great week out West. West is Best.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dead loggerhead

I awoke this lunch time to find a number of missed calls on my phone and a lot of banter in the goat shed about a dead turtle and the press. Apparently a deceased loggerhead had been found on Alagadi this morning and caused some commotion with the local press and the volunteers after their mornings work on the North Coast. The team had decided to bury the large adult female at the back of the beach. With no pressing engagements this afternoon we decided to unearth the girl to conduct an autopsy. We loaded her into the back of the truck and carried her highly pressurised carcass into the goat-shed garden. Obviously dead for some days, her bloated body was hissing with gasses of decomposition, particularly notable was a break in the carapace towards the tail where gasses and innards were oozing, possibly a hit from a jet ski, as we are seeing these increasingly at Alagadi. With the turtle on her back we removed the plastron (ventral shell) and volunteers gathered around, close to vomiting from the smell. We removed the lungs and analysed the gastro-intestinal tract. The turtle certainly did not starve as the stomach and intestine were full with over 2kg of decomposing food. We analysed this and found the majority of the diet to consist of sponge, with many shells from various species of crabs. We also found tell tail remnants of whelks, the operculum doors that close these shells off to predators, these were from large whelks the hard opercula around the size of a thumb nail but the rest of the shell digested. We found a small piece of polythene in the intestine; clear evidence that litter on the beaches and in the sea is affecting the turtles, though this was not the probable cause of death, more likely the rupture form an impact to the posterior of the carapace.

At weekends we see jet skis travelling at great speed up and down Alagadi where turtles are aggregating to breed. Although no tags were found on this adult female and she was not carrying eggs at the time of death, if she had survived to breed at Alagadi she would have been one of 16 loggerhead females recorded this season, so 6.25% of the 2009 Alagadi breeding population. We can not afford to loose breeding adults like this and more needs to be done to prevent jet skis and motor boats from illegally using waters off prime nesting beaches such as Alagadi. After all Alagadi is the 5th most important nesting beach for the green turtle in the Mediterranean and is a hugely important conservation area for both species. An exlusion zone around the designated "Specially Protected Area" has been ignored for some years now.

We are conducting beach cleans on Alagadi every Monday and locals have been getting involved. We also hand out bin bags out on Sundays and speak to local bathers, encouraging them to take their litter off the beach on departure. If people would like to help us on Monday beach cleans we meet at the goat shed at 5pm.


Chief Officer Kaplumbaga

Ana, Jimbob and Libby’s Cyprus extravaganza!

After much persuasion, a night on the beach and conversations like this:
Robin -IF you go
Ana- we ARE going
Robin- but IF you go you will only see a goat. And it’s boring.

We finally set off on our little trip round Cyprus
Keco, our amazing and friendly neighbour arrived at the goat shed early and gave us a lift to Girne. (awwwwww) After arriving in Girne we took a very breezy Dolmus (bus) to Nicosia. Lovely views of the Venetian Walls, the ancient Sofia Cathedral and the courtyard of the old Inn. Briefly lost in a seemingly endless succession of carpenter stalls and staring men. Much ice-cream enjoyed. We crossed the border into the Greek side of Cyprus. Poor Ana “suffered much” with her Capeverdean passport as the security officers struggled yet again to discover whether this country actually exists. We immediately went to the top of Debenhams. This sounds an odd thing to do, but it was advised to us that the top floor had amazing views of both sides of the border, and there indeed was! Only tourist destination seemed to be the motorcycle museum though. We passed.
Following this was an epic, roasting walk in the sun to a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. Only to find that the very unhelpful tourist information lady had directed us to an obscure suburb of Nicosia. Thirsty, desperate and slightly crazed by the sun, a local woman rescued us when we asked for directions saying simply “get in the car” and then proceeded to drive us to the bus stop for Famagusta!! To use Jimbob’s words, the bus was “ all kinds of sweaty” and took a good hour. When we finally reached the city there were absolutely no signs to the centre of town, but by some incredible fluke, we managed to walk there by accident. On arrival we drank about a gallon of water and orange juice sold to us by a man who insisted “ go left, Nicosia, left at roundabout. Nicosia. Left”… and so on. There we saw many Ancient ruins and another mosque where we unluckily ran into the ticket man on the way out. We spent about 10 minutes laughing at the green peace cyclist dude (who’d cycled all the way through Africa, and was going on to Iran) who was struggling to understand why the same ticket man kept saying “one person two tickets”. We bought a Fez as a peace offering for Robin, and in the faint hope that he would give us the night off, after our pathetic 3 hours sleep the night before. This failed.
Night on the beach was a struggle. There were a couple of nests, but we found it difficult to keep our eyes open. However, as Ana says “After Happiness death is nothing!!”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Windy days

Night watch continues and is getting very very very busy! Conditions are also made diffcicult with the weather conditions being as harsh as they are. While the weather still remains scorching hot during the day, driving all of us except Boner (or Sabine) into the shade (Boner likes to bake in the sun in all temps!), the nights are very windy and on occasion a bit chilly. While some are very prepared for this- ie Jimbob with his full outfit of thermals and long johns! others such as me who stupidly brought very little warm clothes are suffering a little! The wind has made measuring post marks and keeping track of equipment while being pelted in the eyes by a full blown sand storm slightly challenging! But we persist and are constantly being rewarded by a good show of turtles each night.
My body clock is finally starting to get into the rhythm and many are now feeling upon returning from night duty up for a little tipple.....or one tippple to many causing a funny and nasty sight for the rest of us the next morning when they finally arise, namely Celli and Gill lol! We are still spring cleaning the goat shed and pottering arond doing bits and bobs of jobs. Some have been to town today and have bought some potted plants to put out front to bring some colour to the place, they look really pretty and we will have to make an extra effort with our watering to make sure they stay that way.
Dinners have been amazing and we are becoming really quite versatile cooks with our limited ingredients. We have a heap of onions so Robbo made onion soup yesterday for starter (it has been windy days in more ways than one!), then Ana and Libby did an amazing vege pie for main, and then I made chocolate pear maddock for pudding (hope your proud mum and I did it off the top of my head without a recipe!). We havent eaten that much since we've been here so all went to the beach with slightly uncomfortably full bellies!
We are really busy with visitors now and are booking up upto 5 days in advance. While this means we are rushed off our feet, its also really positive, the more people who come and see and see these awesome creatures the more we can educate and the donations can go towards further equipment.
Off on night duty again tonight looking forward to it. Had a quick hour power nap just now so will be up and raring to go by the time 8.00 comes. Think it will be another busy night tonight. Onto more pressing matters who can I 'borrow' a jumper off of tonight.......and who do I want to walk with (otherwise known as who has the best biscuit stash?!). Let the snooping begin....
Kate xx

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A few pics from Sabine.......more later x

Turtle returns to stormy seas.

Sunrise over Alagadi

Sunrise over our sleepy house.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Latest From the Project Leader

A busy few weeks for me. I was glad to have the workforce needed to enable us to begin night work at an early stage and hence already we have a good list of individual turtles that have visited Alagadi to lay their first clutch. 36 nests now. Not to mention a male turtle carrying a satellite transmitter who after a week at sea has now reached Turkey and begun to traverse the coast towards Mersin, probably patrolling for females and trying to sew his seeds a far as possible. First of it’s kind in the Med actually! It is now getting to that stage where the first nesters having laid a fortnight ago, will be returning to lay their second clutch of the season, whilst new females continue to arrive to lay their first. Last night we saw 5 nests, 4 green turtles and 1 loggerhead. At around 2am a storm whipped up and we were blasted by sand and a number of nests were washed over by high seas. At half five we waved off the last of the females in broad daylight as she was engulfed in waves. Quite surreal and deserving of a celebratory drink before bed. There is now no question that the season is going to be extremely productive for both species. I remember the dreaded season of 2005 when we only had 40 nests on Alagadi, night after night of no activity and boredom. I expect at least 100 this year.

Now that the volunteers are trained up and with experienced remigrant volunteers arriving from last season, who’s return was funded by the Erwin Warth Foundation, the volunteers are coordinating themselves on the beach well and I am able to snatch an hour or two to myself in the goat shed, on call and listening out on the VHF radio. I am really pleased with the team, all of them get on very well and work together, full of initiative and enthusiasm. With no new arrivals for a few weeks now I expect that we will become a very tight group.

We have been tackling the litter problem on Alagadi beaches. Firstly on Sunday afternoons we are patrolling the beaches handing out black bags to local family groups to take their litter to the car parks. Secondly, during the week we are emptying the bins in all of the car parks and loading all of the rubbish to the beach bar where Gokmen, the beach bar manager, then ferries it up to the Beledeya in Esentepe. We hope that the Beledeya will take responsibility for at least emptying the bins in the near future. We have also organised beach cleans and special thanks go out to Marylin and friends, who came down from Catalkoy on Monday to help out on Alagadi 2.

On Sunday the West Coast team returned and stayed over and volunteer James Johnston and his two friends Woody and Ollie at James’s parents house in Esentepe hosted a reunion pool party. Sorry James if your parents were not supposed to find out, but apparently the house was cleaner when we left than when we arrived. James has been house sitting for a few weeks whilst diving by day and turtling by night at Alagadi, not leaving much time for house work. Woody and Ollie disclosed that James had been tidying all morning in anticipation of our arrival! A big thanks to James for putting on a great spread, we all had a well-deserved afternoon off and a fantastic time.

I took an hour off this afternoon and launched my kayak on Alagadi. In the middle of bay 3 I noticed a turtle cross underneath me. It crossed my path a few times moving quite quickly beneath me, almost inquisitively, and I was able to identify it as a male green turtle. It emerged to breath beside me and that was the last I saw of him. Brilliant!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pie and beach times

It’s all good times round at Casa de Goatshed, with my first night-off of the season, yay! Abandoning my nightwork clothes, headtorch and emergency 3 sticks for the night, I even showered and began preparing a feast fit for people who spend the night with their heads in turtle behinds. This meant veggie pie with puff pastry that didn’t actually puff (there was some complicated folding business that I left out), an amazing salad created by Mr German, followed by apple crumble and sheep yoghurt (an alagadi staple). I think a few situps, lunges and buttcrunches were required when walking the beach after that lot.

Yesterday saw the arrival of Ella, a volunteer from last year, who was met with way too much excitement at the airport by me and Emma (in the swank new car of course). We almost had a bit of whiplash when I forgot it was an automatic and pressed the brake as the clutch, but aside from that we arrived home safely and sent Ella out on North after flying all night. Obviously. If any of you haven’t been to Ercan airport you should add it into your list of must see tourist destinations. Where else can you watch people get off the plane and collect their baggage from the floor above, while making rude faces at them through the windows?

Moving on to the business of our little green friends, the North coast group were unhappy to find a Turkish fox feasting on one of our turtle nests when they arrived on the beach yesterday. The nest was totally predated, sadly, and the fox got a good earbashing for his trouble. So, from now on the nests on the North coast beaches (Esentepe, Tatlisu, Kantara, Kaplica) will be caged with special metal pegs along with our usual flat caging to stop predation from fantastic Mr Foxes. This should hopefully stop one of the biggest threats to egg survival and help that 1 in 1000 to hatch. Also, well done to Emma and Tom for caging with heavy, rusty metal which is really a pleasure to carry around ; )

Onwards to night work and last night the loggerheads finally made an appearance after days of only seeing greens (I’m biased towards the loggers, they have more character than greens and are uglier. Not every turtle can be beautiful you know) with 3 logger nests and 2 green nests over our two beaches. The volunteers were run ragged, along with our 4 visitors, trying to stay with each turtle AND make sure the beaches are walked every 10 minutes. We’re a well-oiled machine now and 5 turtles on the beach are nothing we can’t handle! Well done to Celli for spotting the highly endangered german joke-back turtle and observing it for a few minutes before being given the fright of her life as Adrien jumped out of the hole with a logger carapace on his back. I hope you had fresh underwear on the beach Celli.
Here at alagadi we work hard and we play jokes on people. Then we work some more and some more and then we sleep.

Becca xx

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bruce almighty

As the season warms up (literally and metaphorically) we’re getting busier and busier, with 7 turtle sitings last night and 15 visitors to the beach! For this reason the blog is becoming slightly less regular but we’re keeping you up to date the best we can.

Tuesday night we had 2 U-turns and a nest on Alagadi 1, as well as an attempt on Iki. One of the U-turns on Alagadi one, came right next to midpoint and made its path all the way around where volunteers and visitors were sitting, creating some pandemonium! The turtle on Iki decided to head straight up to the dunes where the sand is so soft her body pit kept caving in. After 2hours, several attempts and a lot of cursing by volunteers, she decided enough was enough and headed back to the water around 4 am.

Yesterday day time, Tom and Emma headed out north to walk the beaches up there, whilst we went down to Alagadi to repositions posts that beach goers had used as goal posts and GPS all the new nests. After a few fights over the good hammock before dinner, we were ready to set off again for another night watch.

Sam and Kristine took Iki, where they had 3 greens come to nest simultaneously. Sam, having lost one in the dunes decided that it was Kristine’s turn to look for her rather than get himself any more dirty up there. Unfortunately none of these laid but we hope for their return over the next few days.

On bay 3 a turtle came up and started to dig her egg chamber, unfortunately another turtle decided to ascend the beach and the same time and lay directly in front of the first. While digging her body pit she not only pelted the first turtle with large stones and bits of debris but managed to hit her in the face with a flipper! Needless to say the victim went back into the water a little disgruntled, without laying. We have decided to name the latter Bruce due to her spectacular punching skills.

Hopefully it will be another fun packed night tonight, but in the meantime I’m making the most of a little peace and quiet to soak up the sun, lie in a hammock and do some much needed laundry!

Celli x

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cat sick in the West and "excavation" on Alagadi

Hello all!
It has been an interesting few days here at the goat shed!
There were some welcome new arrivals: enthusiastic new volunteers! Emma, Jim bob and Kristine. The North was thoroughly checked by Tom Kate, Emma, Celli and Kristine for turtle activity and juice was drunk in bounty. Oh and a nest was relocated.
Ainslie, Robbo, Jimbob and Ana and I headed out West to set up our new home away from home, so the beaches there could be checked with more ease. We arrived only to find that no one seemed to know where exactly the keys had walked off to, so then had to break into our own house, with the help of a locksmith. Here’s hoping the Turkish man who kindly abandoned his house into our keeping doesn’t return too soon. The water and electricity was switched off, something resembling a pile of cat sick smothered the kitchen floor and there were strange slightly terrifying pictures on the walls. But luckily there were no long dead cats lying around like last time.
After much cleaning and calling of electricity men, the house was in a more welcoming state, so we went off for a very delicious kebab.
Night watch was a busy one. 3 turtles laid: two Greens, one Loggerhead and one Green FCA. So our visitors enjoyed good views of some of the turtles!
One of the highlights of the night for Kristine, Sam, Celli and Adrian was “extensive excavation” of Alagadi 2 due to unforeseen nest marker movement. Kristine says “It was the best hour of digging in my life”. The egg chamber was successfully sighted in the end.
Today most of the turtle gang went into town for a nice change of scenery with the exception of a few manning the goat shed, and Sam and Adrian who did “man work” and built our new bin holder thingy. Wayne from down the road assisted with the cement with Sam optimistically calling out “I can do this in ten minutes.” Yeah Sam 10 minutes. Riiiiiight. 2 Hours later the workmen returned to the goatshed.
Everyone headed out for Night watch tonight with full capacity of visitors. Good luck to them we say.
from libby and kristine

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Male with the Large Tail

Good morning! We’re a few hours late with our blog today due to an extremely exciting night that required all hands on deck, but I’ll come to that later.

Saturday night saw us splitting into two groups, some down to the beach and 4 of us to a fundraiser. On the beach 2 Loggerheads were found nesting, one on Alagadi and one on Iki. Whilst measuring and observing these, Kate managed to tag not the turtle, but herself. Luckily she’s fine but we’re all intrigued to find out where exactly she goes every day! Our Logger friend from the night before also returned for another 6 attempts at nesting before going back into the sea, bringing her grand total of body pits dug up to nine. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that she’ll actually lay sometime soon, in the mean time its nice to see a familiar face on the beach each night!

Meanwhile, Becca, Tom, Sam and I went to the fund raising turtle race and dinner, where we eagerly anticipated our spaghetti bolognaise made with real meat! (not an aubergine in sight). We weren’t let down. The food was fantastic and the people unbelievably friendly. We all had a small bet on the turtle races, where Sam and I came out on top and Becca and Tom didn’t. Through generous donations and a bit of competitive spirit over 800 YTL was raised, which is a fantastic sum of money and will go a long way in helping the project. Thank you to everyone involved for helping us and giving us a wonderful evening off.

The next day we were up early to go west to walk the horrifically long beaches to find any nests from the night before. Tom and I found our first day time nest, a Loggerhead we have named Heather. After much prodding and digging of the sand we eventually found her egg chamber, bringing the total number of nest found in the west up to two. Unfortunately the other nest had been partially predated by dogs, but we have high hopes for the remaining eggs.

So last night! After a farewell dinner for Penny, the beach patrol set off. Half an hour later, Ainslie burst into the restaurant where we were still sat, shouting about a male turtle. We flung some money on the table and sprinted down to the beach where we found a pair of green turtles mating. Kate, Tom and Sam had seen what the believed to be a large rock steadily moving up the beach. The female had determinedly carried her male all the way on to the sand with her mind set on nesting! After Kate, Tom and Sam executed some very professional commando rolls in order to observe them unseen, we all gathered round to wait for her to begin to lay. A few hours later, during which time the female was simultaneously mating and digging her body pit and egg chamber, we were starting to get restless. Finally she began lay and the volunteers swung into action. Kate and I took the female to tag, and eventually as the male came off he was surrounded in tables from the beach bar so that we could quickly get a satellite on him. Everything went well and we now have one of the only males tagged with a satellite transmitter, which will be fantastic from a research point of view.

An unbelievable exciting night, which I can’t imagine ever being topped, but it seems you never know what’s around the corner at the turtle project!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Another great night on the beach last night with lots of activity early in the evening to keep motivation high. The first turtle of the evening, on Aligadi 1, was a large green. She measured in at a whacking 104cm (length of carapace and dug two body pits before digging the egg chamber. This was followed closely by two Loggerheads, on Alagadi 1 and Alagadi 2 respectively. There were also a couple of u-turns as well just to keep us on our toes. Just before dawn, on Alagai 2 a Loggerhead came ashore and completely wasted everybodies time by digging several body pits and egg chambers before disappearing off into the sea again.

We have a many wonderful people locally who are helping the turtle project in many ways. One such person is Penny, who lives in Alagadi and provides us with the most wonderful cakes every few days. Yesterdays banana cake was saved until the wee small hours of the morning and devoured on the beach. Thank you Penny!

Sleep deprivation is beginning to take it's toll and most people today failed to put in an appearance much before mid afternoon! The usual insomniacs however, Ainslie, Robbo were up early; Ainslie flooding the kitchen with the washing machine and Robbo test driving the new ute and Tom and Libby manning the visitor centre.

Several blog readers have asked for a little background information of the project and also a little about more about a typical day. Since 1992 over students from British universities have taken part in the annual monitoring and conservation of marine turtles in Northern Cyprus. Work is carried out at the request and in conjunction with members of the local Society for the Protection of Turtles and the local Department of Environmental Protection.
You can get more detailed information from www.seaturtle.org/

Our work involvesnight time beach patrols at Alagadi Beach and day time patrols on few beaches on the North and West coasts as well. Those people on night patrol start at 2030 and are on the beach until 0500. Every 10 minutes, groups of 2-3 people patrol the beach and upon encountering a nesting femalerecord her activity / tags measurements etc. This can only be done once she is laying eggs as any noise or light before that stage could frighten her away. Some of the work this year will involve attaching and possibly retrieving satellite transmitters to nesting females to record their inter=nesting behaviour. Communication between the groups of the beach is by coded (sometimes so coded that the meaning is entirely lost)flashing of torches and VHF Radio.
Day work during the nesting period involves monitoring of beaches to record nesting activities, protecting nests from predation using wire screeds and relocating nests laid too close to the sea to safer sites.
In addition to the turtle work we have an information room that is visited by both tourists and locals. There are a limited number of places available for visitors to accompany us to the beach at night. We will be starting this on Sunday night. Anybody interested in taking part in the turtle spotting please come down to the Goat shed to book your place.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Turtles and Ice Cream

Another day at the big turtle house, some activity was spotted last night on Alagadi 1. Two loggerheads were spotted. The first, by a guest from a project on the south side early on in the night, and the second by Sam I am at around midnight. Icky had a FCU from a green turtle, which was franticly measured up by Tom and Celli. Libby lost her flipper and pit tag virginity last night by pit tagging the 1st loggerhead and flipper tagging the second. Becca got to show off her amazing stealth skills on a turtle vanishing the embarrassment of stealthing a tyre a few nights earlier. This was all the action for the night turtle-wise, but people on Alagadi 1 decided to munch some biscuits. The love was not spread to icky, so we went hungry (sob). A long, and exhausting night, was finished off by Tom and Sam, with Sam feeling exceptionally tired from a night of sit ups and push ups for a bet with Celli.

A fresh, awake Kate, opened information centre and used her talent of talking forever, to entice customers to buy things and to donate money to a worthy cause. Becca, Penny, Ana and Adrian went to the north coast and had to relocate a nest from Kantara. Also, the tragic news that Tom’s baby, “retrobob” the turtle nest, had been lost to the high seas the night before rocked the camp. We all have our fingers crossed that the eggs are still OK, just MIA.

After the tragic news was broken, and tears had been shed, we all got about to doing some work. Becca and Tom painted the barrier, the fans had the plugs mysteriously fitted by an unknown volunteer (Although we suspect Ainslie did it). Any further information on this mystery would be gratefully appreciated. Robbo arrived back from town bringing presents of food and t-shirts and was followed by a surprise visit from the ice cream man with all his crazy but nice flavours.

Robbo arranged a meeting at around 2 o’clock to instruct us all the ways of the kit bags. During the meeting Robbo was interviewed by the local media and explained all our hard work and asked for everyone to help keep the beaches clean. Kate and Penny were also asked for a quick statement.

How could this day get any better? Well it did by two magicians in the kitchen who produced an amazing meal fit for a king. Ana did arrive on the scene to help rescue these two chefs from their late service. The meal went down well and the team have now left to go off on another adventure searching for turtles

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Green we've seen!

Last night was our second night of turtle watch. We all headed down in a staggered fashion to the beach at approx. 8.30. Ainslie, Woody and Sam took Icky and the rest of us did Alagadi 1. We had action pretty early on in the evening with a radio of possible activity on Icky, which turned out to be a Green. Robbo had to make a mad dash for it to the other end of the beach as it was very close to last nights loggerhead (I think they're making it as difficult as possible for us, the sneaky things!). It was first recorded mid-way through its body pit. After demonstration by Robbo, Sam got to tag both the pit (electronic) and flipper (metal ring).
All occupants of the beach minus James got to view the Green which was a great result and helped us with track identification for future reference.
No further activity was seen and after an exhausting night Tom and I did the last walk back at dawn. We saw many dog tracks which shows the ever present threat of predation on the eggs.
Sam summed up our lack of sleep pretty well with his fly catching mouth!
Today, a new day, saw Becca, Anna, Adrian and Penny going west to look for nests. They found lots of activity and three loggerhead nests.
Back at base Celli was in charge of tourist duty so was up nice and early. She along with Ainslie, Libby and a few others were privileged enough to find a chameleon in the garden.
We all slept in after our night on the beach and rose around mid-day. Jobs this afternoon revolved around making posters for advertisements within the local beach bars and town. Celli, Libby and I did this while wailing along to various tunes on the ipod and ballet dancing (not a pretty site!). Sam had the job of making a door for the shower so that more than one person can have a shower at once. We can now shower al fresco two at a time and chat as we do it (going to take some getting used to!). Tom was demolition man and fixed one of the main gates which prevents access to the beach during night hours.
I cooked dinner which comprised of a chuck together of haloumi, potato chips and salad as the fridge was empty. Ainslie was having a nap so we saved her a plate full. Sam managed to get it into his head that it was waste and ended up throwing it in the compost bin!! We managed to scrape together something which vaguely resembled a meal for her so she didn't go hungry!
Another day, another night duty- the group have just gone out to start for the evening, I've got the night off as I'm on tourist duty tomorrow so need to be awake and sharp to be able to get the well needed donations required to keep this project afloat!
Goodnight off to bed, Kate

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First Turtle! Woohoo!

The last 24 hours of the turtle project have been exhausting, thrilling and extremely hot! After dinner last night we all traipsed down to the beach loaded with bottles of water, warm jumpers and tonnes of turtle equipment. After 2 minutes on the beach Becca spotted our first turtle. Down on bended knee, we started to crawl commando style towards it. On closer inspection however it turned out to be nothing but a large tyre. This was to be the theme of the evening. Three bushes, 4 piles of rocks and one sand castle later we had still not found and actual turtle. The mood on the beach however was hopeful. Groups were sent off to walk the beach to check for sitings and tracks and we would congregate at the midpoint every half an hour or so for gossips and games. Our numbers slowly diminished as volunteers needed to be picked up from the airport and those that had been up since 5 the previous evening succumbed to tiredness.

Eventually it was 4:45am and we were on our last beach walk, heading for home and our beds. Penny and Robbo went over to Iki (the second beach) for one final check and we received a radio call simply stating. ‘Turtle! Run!’ Sam, Kate, James and I clambered over rocks, ran down paths and sprinted to the site.

There she was. The first turtle of the season, named Steve. A fantastic loggerhead just laying her eggs. She was absolutely beautiful and extremely focused on what she was doing. She didn’t seem to mind a bit when we tagged her and measured her to collect data. Finally at about 6am we watched her heave her way back in to the sea at sun rise. Possibly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. So we’ve marked her nest and now we just keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well until hatching.

We finally hit the bed, tired but exhilarated, at 6:30 and slept until mid day today. Needless to say I’m writing this to you while pretty spaced out and strangely disorientated. Am looking forward to a good night sleep and, of course another early morning J.

To all those that put in hard work last night but missed Steve, I hope you have better luck this evening.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our First Day

We’re Ana and Libby, two new volunteers for the project!

Today was an early start for us (6 o’clock) as we were checking the beaches on the North Coast for any activity. We found some false crawl attempts and two green turtle nests. Becca explained to us the differences between the loggerhead and green turtle tracks and also how to screen the nests from predators. The nests were given different names to identify them. After many hours of checking the beaches, we were hot, thirsty, sweating and tired so we decided to have an ice cream at a convenient beach bar. It was very satisfying!!! Then there was a long drive back to the base.

Celli, Katy, Sam, Ainslie and Penny were in charge of looking after visitors.

One of the daily jobs around the Goat Shed is to take the food scrap bucket and feed the goats. This task was given to Sam and Penny who came back rather swiftly minus the bin! Apparently the goats were terrifying and they made a hasty retreat. Sam was so scared he locked the gates with Penny still inside!

Our afternoon was spent relaxing, at the beach with the exception of Ainslie who manned the visitor centre and Robbo who was doing some hard haggling on a much needed new car.

Before we start doing night patrols of the beach, we all need to know what is involved so Robbo showed us how to spot, tag and monitor turtle behaviour through the night. Now, we are all off down to the beach for our first night of no sleep and hopefully a turtle or two!!

Ana and Libby

Monday, June 1, 2009

First nest in the West!

Volunteer number three, Sam, arrived late last night, bringing the turtle brigade total to 4. And tonight as I write this another 5 are arriving so the peace and quiet of the goat shed will be a thing of the past. An increase in numbers will mean that night training can start in preparation for taking visitors out.
An early morning walk today along Alagadi revealed one new Logger nest, quite close to the water line.
Tom was left at home today with a very long list of jobs and to host to any visitors that popped in, while Robbo, Sam and I headed to the beaches on the West. This was the first time that we had been left to drive and navigate the dune tracks on our own and I discovered that my note taking from the other day left out a lot of vital information! Needless to say there were several wrong turnings, quite a lot of backtracking and more than one occasion where the shovel was required to dig the Rav out of the sand! It was all good fun, so much so that it was quite hard to get Robbo out from behind the wheel.
West 2 and Monster both had Green activity but all were FCA (false crawl attempt). Information can still be gathered from these including track width and position of the body pits (nesting attempts) in relation to the high water mark and vegetation line. There was also a lot of Logger activity along Monster, all FCA or U-turns, until finally at the very end of Monster (it’s a very long beach!) we found a Logger nest – the first nest on the West.
At the end of the day, weary and sunburnt in Akdeniz village, we were invited by Mr Mustafa into the cool shade of his yard for a drink. He always gives us a big wave and calls out a greeting as we drive through Aldeniz so it was nice to spend a little time with him.

No turtle activity yesterday. We had a busy day in Alagadi cleaning and tidying the goatshed and making finishing touches. Many visitors are now showing up for information. We are off to the West Coast today to check once again for activities, myself, Ainslie and newbie Sam. Tom will be around all with information for visitors.

More later.