Friday, July 31, 2009


Good morning turtle followers,

I have some good news, after a few days of no excavations, I am happy to say that we have got a Public Excavation this evening, with a 6:30 meet at the Goatshed before we walk you down to the nest.

The nest that we are excavating is situated in the middle of bay 3, and is another Loggerhead nest, and was laid on the 5th of June.

All are welcome to come join the excavation this evening, so we hope many can make it.

If you are unable to make it this evening, make sure you keep one eye on this blog, as I am sure there will be more hatching soon!!

Hope to see you this evening

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Excavation Tonight!! - All are welcome

Good morning once again from the Turtle Project,

I have good news for those people who where unable to make the excavation that we had yesterday afternoon, as we have got another excavation on tonight. Again the nest that we will be excavating will be a Loggerhead nest, but laid by a different female. We will be asking once again for visitors to arrive at the Goat shed at 6:30pm, but we advise those who have a car to drive down to the project, as the nest we are excavating is on the second beach that we patrol at night, and we will be leading a convoy of cars over to the beach.

Hope to see you there

Monday, July 27, 2009

Excavation for the Nation to Night!!!

Good morning Turtle followers,

We have a nest, which we are going to excavate this evening, and all are welcome to come down to Aligadi and watch. The nest is a Loggerhead nest, and has been hatching over the last couple of days. The nest was laid on the 6th of June, and was the Loggerhead’s first clutch. She has so far come back to lay a further 3 clutches, which will possibly be her finished for this year.

If you would like to come down and watch the excavation, we ask all visitors to meet at the 'Goat Shed' at 6:30pm where we will then take you down to the nest.

If you are unable to make it to this excavation, we now have a telephone number you can ring, (sometime after 9:30am) to see whether there is an excavation that day. The number is: - 05338678188. From here you shall reach me (Lucy) and I will hopefully be able to say whether there is an excavation on that day.

Hope to see you at the excavation.
Collsy (Lucy)xx

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Excavation tonight!

We had hatchlings emerge this morning so there WILL be a nest excavation tonight. If you would like to attend please be at the project at 6.30 this evening!

Hay fights, hatchlings and backgammon

Good morning and welcome to another episode of the turtle blog.

I spent last week out West in a town called Guzelyurt. This was my first week of day-work in 8 weeks of night-work and I was desperate to get some sun. Every morning we’d wake up at 5 and go off-road to the West beaches where we would poke for nests, measure tracks and try on some of the random clothes we found washed up on the beach. Although it is supposed to be coming to the end of the season for nesting turtles, we still found a high number of nests on all of the 5 west beaches.

Out in Guzelyurt, the afternoons are your own so we wondered around town and made friends with some of the locals. We were taken on a tour of a nearby supermarket car park whilst Turkish drum and base blast out from the car sterio, invited for Turkish Coffee and challenged to a game of backgammon on the street. Eventually Heather and I managed to win 2 games to 1 (mum i hope you're proud), which didn’t seem to go down too well with our friendly Turkish man. Apparently losing Backgammon to British girls is humiliating! We also visited some ruins from over 300 BC and watched the sun set whilst eating home made (by Ainslie) banana pancakes over Monster (a particularly hideous beach). It was a very relaxing week and it was nice to see some more of Northern Cyprus, but its great to be back at the goatshed!

Last Monday we had our first public excavation of a hatched loggerhead nest. We all traipsed down to Alagadi 1 armed with weighing scales, tape measures and clip-boards ready to dig down for forgotten hatchlings. After a fair amount of digging by those enthusiastic to get sweaty, we found a number of hatchlings at the bottom of the nest, which were unlikely to surface on their own.

These hatchlings were weighed and measured and the number of hatched and un-hatched eggshells counted. We also opened any failed eggs to note the stage of development, this information is used in analyses later. Once all the visitors had seen the little loggers and the sun had become cooler, we released the hatchlings back into the water. Creating a line in the sand as a starting platform and using the sea as the finish line, the hatchlings didn’t know how much was riding on their being the first to the water! To everyone that was there, we hoped you enjoyed seeing the hatchlings return to the water as much as we did.

On waking after 9 tiring hours at the beach on Wednesday, we were greeted with ‘Move Hay Bales’ on the job list. At first this doesn’t sound too bad but on going round the back of the cow shed we were met with a pile of bales that seemed to reach to the sun. Three gallons of sweat, two hay fights and one hay rash later the job was done.

This week we also said goodbye to some of our favourite volunteers. Gill and Libby left on Tuesday morning and Emma left after a night of debauchery at 3 o clock Wednesday morning. We miss them loads and wish they’d come back. We do however have many new volunteers who seem to be getting stuck into Cyprus life. Josh and Henry came last week and just a few days ago Sean, Tom, Iona and Samuel turned up and finally Jim Bob has returned after just a few weeks. He obviously couldn’t keep himself away! Everyone seems to have settled in well, although we are starting to wonder if Henry suffers from narcolepsy or whether he’s just having problems adjusting to our nocturnal lifestyle.

Sam (now known as Other One Sam) would also like me to mention that it is his last week because apparently everything is about him.

Celli and Kim

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nest Excavation today!

At the begining of June we were called to the Acapulco beach resort to look at 2 loggerhead activities that staff had reported that night. With sunloungers across the beach and bright lights shining from the hotel complex we decided to relocate the two nests that we found that morning to Alagadi and last night one of them hatched. So today we are inviting everybody to come along to Alagadi at 18:30 to see the excavation of this nest and babies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pennys pool fun!!!


Firstly we need to say a great big thank you to the expats for attending night watches in the past couple of weeks, making donations and organizing and attending fundraising events. The next one coming up is ‘The Weakest Link’ to be held on Saturday 25th July at the Mountain View Hotel in Karaoglanoglu. The event includes local celebrities having a go as well as the opportunity to play yourself or nominate a friend, there is also a buffet! It promises to be a great evening out! Tickets are only 20TL and can be reserved at the Hotel itself, as well as from the SPOT stall at Lambousa Market and from Tricia on 05338469563. This events are such a vital and greatly appreciated side of our fund raising as I am sure you are all well aware that the project runs predominantly thanks to the donations from fundraisers and the general public.

So this week has been another eventful one at Alagadi, although those at the Goatshed working night shifts are still keenly awaiting their first hatchlings. On North we have been treated to not only one hatched nest but three and have already seen Green and Loggerhead hatchlings! Yesterday, Friday north get pretty exciting! It was Becca’s last day and she decided that coming off night work she would head straight north with myself and Tom, Sam also decided to tag along being worried about missing out on any fun! The morning went as normally as usual until all the excitement began at Tatlisu where we spotted the first hatchling tracks of the year! Even after three seasons Becca was as excited as ever. According to protocol we excavated the nest to retrieve any stragglers that may be too close to the surface and would get too hot during the day. We take these back to Alagadi to weigh and measure and release the following night under the cover of darkness. We also count the egg fragments to see how many hatchlings have hopefully made it to the sea and open any unhatched eggs to see what the problem may have been. With the hatchlings in a pile of damp sand in a bucket we headed onwards…only for disaster to strike! Myself and Becca were left at Esentepe to walk the beaches whilst the boys went for fuel, only an hour later when they hadn’t returned from a ten minute journey we were beginning to worry, how could they possibly have gotten lost. With a right puss on we began to walk towards Esentepe village, 20 minutes down the road we came across Tom walking towards us…problem, Tofas was finished for the time being anyway. Sam was hitching back to wake Robbo and we were left with a broken car and a bucket of hatchlings….interesting hitching attire! Fortunately a kind man in a very smart clean Mercedes picked us up and we rushed back to Alagadi at top speed!

The following day with a fixed Tofas we headed north again only to experience every single activity possible, we had FCU’s, FCA’s, both logger and green nests, a relocation and both species of hatchlings! Busy busy!

This week a few volunteers managed to get some chill out time to climb Besparmak…not so much relaxing as we’d imagined! Two and half hours after leaving Alagadi we reached the restaurant the other side, it was a great walk. But I think I speak for everyone when I say we got the biggest sweats on in the world!! Was a great achievement though!

Satellite attachment video by Eros Gentillini

To track this turtle to it's foraging grounds visit: and look for green turtle number 95098.....soon to be named.

You can also sponsor the 7 turtles equipped with transmitters this season at Alagadi from this site or at the goat shed in Alagadi.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pictures from Pil

Last week out west

An update from out west!

With daytime temperatures so high we are hitting the beaches by 0600. There has been a sudden drop in the number of activities this week, particularly green activity. There is a total of 88 nests, 57 of which are Logger and 31 Green. We are also eagerly awaiting the hatching of our first nest early next week. A week of high winds and large seas has seen message beach gouged out well past the high water mark washing out one nest and soaking several others. Dogs have also been a big problem in the last couple of weeks, determinedly digging round the edges of the wire netting or beating us to the nests in the morning. Its heartbreaking to find piles of empty egg shells scattered round a dug out nest.

While poking for an egg chamber in a green nest on Lost, Ainslie, Kate and Becca unearthed three unfound nests from last season, all under the one new cover up. What are the chances of that! The majority of eggs had hatched from each nest and investigation of the ones that hadn’t revealed very smelly mush.

Last week seemed to be a week of dramas involving either 4 wheels or water! The Rav is still on holiday in the Lapta garage with parts now ordered from Japan. Its replacement, thanks to Keco, has been luxury, a ‘real’ 4x4, with high and low range and a large deck for carrying cages, shovels and buckets and making travelling on the rocky and sandy tracks much more pleasant. However it too had a minor hiccup with the chasis splitting and the whole back end of the truck sitting on the back wheels! So it was back to the garage for some serious super gluing and welding. This gave Ainslie, Tom and Gill an unexpected 3 days off back at the Goat Shed. When it was apparent that this 4x4 wasn’t going to be ready until ‘yarin’, it was decided to take the new ute back out west and to do the best we could with 2WD. Hmmm, bad idea. First day; stuck in 3 inches of sand with no way of making progress without churning great holes. So with darkness fast approaching and all Tom and Ainslie’s ingenuity proving fruitless and Gill worrying about the possibility of a night at the beach, we called in the Tepebashi rescue service ie Tony Hutchinson who came and collected us, taking us home to Guzelyurt and then the next day returning to pull the truck out. Thank you Tony! So with a serious lesson in 2WD capabilities, Lost now had to be covered by walking from West 1. Ainslie volunteered for this task and with the walk and 4 green nests to uncover, Gill and Tom had 4 hours to sunbathe, read and in Tom’s case hunt lizards. I’m glad to say that that only had to happen once and we now have Keco’s car back, all nicely welded back together again.
On top of all this the water works in the house presented a few challenges… kitchen sink blocked up completely, water leaked through the kitchen ceiling, toilet cistern and pipes in bathroom wall also leaking and at any given time scalding hot or cold water can come out of either tap! The plumber came, poked and prodded and climbed on the roof and shook his head in despair and proclaimed ‘chok problem’ (many problems) before leaving us to it!
Knowing what it is like to be bogged in dry sand in a 2WD, Ainslie went to the rescue of Ibrahim and Erdogan, a couple of fisherman who were in the same predicament. Ever so grateful and relieved, they insisted on cooking us lunch. What a wonderful experience. Out came the bbq, the table and chairs, the lamb chops and chicken, the fresh fruit and veges from their garden and most importantly an entire bottle of whiskey! A realy nice way to spend an afternoon out west – just one of the reasons that west is best!

Ainslie x

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Goodbye, Hello and a Reservoir

The last week of the project has been an emotional one. We have gotten to the point in the project where the seasons changeover is beginning. Every year it seems that there are two batches of volunteers, ones that come for the first half and ones that come for the second half and then the few hard-core, slightly insane ones that stay for the entire season, a little over 3 months! Because of this the last few days and the next week or so has seen the end of some volunteers time here. We have so far had to say goodbye to Anna, Ella, Boner and Kristine with another six leaving too soon for comfort, myself included! Saying goodbye is always hard, it is impossible not to form close friendships with people that you are living in such close quarters with. But we try not to dwell on it as the annual reunion in England should keep us all in touch!

However saying goodbye does also mean saying hello and with every departing volunteer there is a new one to throw into the mix and get to know. In the same amount of time we have welcomed returning Heather and new girl Kim, who is completing a PhD so will be a familiar face on the project for the next three years, as well as returning Dave who is completing an undergrad project here and new boy Josh, both of whom are from Falmouth. Despite being a returnee Dave didn’t manage to see an adult laying last season as he arrived in August and was too late so was pretty happy when after arriving and going straight to the beach last night he was only waiting for a short while before a female obliged and began to lay!

The week as always has been full of work with little time for play for the volunteers but when offered an afternoon off as always we jumped at the chance! Our friendly project leader talked about this ‘oasis’ of a reservoir in the hills before Five Finger Mountain. So with ideas of a haven from the sun and excitement of swimming in fresh water a group of volunteers headed off down the road for an afternoon of adventure. I guess we should have known something was a cropper when Robbo encouraged us all to go and take a break. I had vague recollections of a similar trip last year where after hiking for the best part of an afternoon a group of volunteers came across a dried river bed, but after Robbo’s insistence that there had been far more rain this winter off we went. With the hand drawn map with only one path on it and mountains either side and instructions clearly stating to ‘not take the left’ we walked in high spirits….for the first ten minutes! After more than one junction and votes at each one over whether or not we should in fact take the left we found ourselves hiking in flip-flops up a mountain path, surely not the way to a reservoir…a brief phone call and instructions to just carry on encouraged us to continue we were almost there, we had almost reached the oasis. Water and spirits were beginning to dwindle, we needed to see the reservoir soon! At the top of the hill we saw a dam wall, surely the reservoir was beside the dam, spirits heightened and the sense of excitement gathered once more. The first volunteers reached the top of the hill, the edge of the reservoir and the rest of us were informed by the wails that the reservoir was in fact once again dry as a bone! The bottom was a dried cracked cake of mud and the 6ft elephant grass growing all over it suggested the reservoir had not been full for a while! What a wild goose chase! Our oasis dreams were shattered had it not of been for morale and team spirit I’m not sure we would have made it back to the Goatshed to thank Robbo for his encouragement to visit this wonderful place! Not being the type of people to dwell on it we headed back dripping with sweat; who needs a swim anyway! Our excursion had been a team bonding exercise and offered some prime photo opportunities for Sam and his tripod!

Anyone wishing to visit the reservoir can get a hand drawn map themselves courtesy of Mr Robbo, who I’m still certain just wanted peace at last at the Goatshed!

Thanks also to Pat and John for their lovely Chicken casserole, its always exciting to get some food with real ingredients!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fun in the Sun

As things start hotting up in Cyprus (physically and metaphorically) the ‘to do’ list is getting longer and our patience with the heat, shorter, thus the delay between blog entries.

Firstly we’d all like to give a big thanks to the lovely ladies at mermaid fabrics who have donated us soft, plump cushions that make the goat shed’s ‘comfy’ chairs actually comfy. The volunteers and our visitors are extremely grateful.

So this week…. Well I’ve been taking a holiday from the turtle project to go sailing with some friends around the Greek Islands. After stunning them by having 3 hot showers a day, my propensity to eat enormous amounts of meat and a near nervous breakdown when offered a courgette for dinner, I settled back into the luxuries that come with non-turtle project life quite easily. It was a truly fantastic holiday, but as I was walking up the drive to the goat shed on my return, past the stink of the donkeys in the midday sun, it felt like I was coming home.

me with a Greek God

On the Sunday we were thrown a barbeque by Collsey’s family, which was fantastic. A never ending supply of fabulous food, including what could only be gallons of refried beans, was set out on the table and we all eagerly dug in. (Is it just me or is this blog more about food than turtles sometimes!). After much merriment and excitement caused by locating a ‘Hello’ magazine only 1 week out of date, we had desert of ice-cream and ├ęclairs. Thank you so much for a fantastic afternoon and thank you to the ice-cream man from ………. For discounting such a scrumptious treat.

Ok, so back to some turtle information. We have now satellited 4 turtles (including Randel the male). The process of putting on the satellite transmitters is to surround the turtle with the satellite box (made by Sam), use sandpaper on the middle of the shell, apply acetone to remove any grease, then add the satellite by building Epoxy Resin over the top and leaving to dry for 30 minutes. Despite sounding like Blue Peter instructions, this is usually completed with fewer problems. If you would like to see this being done please book in for the night watch, we still have 3 to apply and it may be your lucky night! To follow our satellite turtles please go to

A journalist, Brook Anderson, joined us from the Wall Street Journal this week to observe and write about what we do at the turtle project, our aims and obstacles. We obviously bored her rigid about litter issues, kept her up all night with one very committed turtle and treated her to a project courgette special. Despite being reluctant to join in our (extremely tacky but fun) 4th of July celebrations (Kate made hats and everything!), we hope she had a good time with us during her stay on the project.

Eros at 7am with the green nest

Gill posing with the Dawny

Last night we had very little happen on Alagadi 1 but there was pandemonium on Iki, with 6 turtles and one green laying at 5:30am, ensuring volunteers were still on the beach at 7:00am. This now brings up our total nests to 111 on Alagadi, with many turtles not yet having laid their 3rd clutch. We therefore hope to have a good number of nests this year. Hatchlings should be starting within the next week sometime, so keep an eye on this blog for any events you would like to attend.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Satellite of love and a daring rescue

Nesting is still in full swing down at Alagadi and the return of the first greens for their 2nd or 3rd clutches means satellite transmitter time! This year 7 transmitters will be deployed and i'm sure you all know that the first one was used on the infamous randall, the male green who appeared on the beach earlier in the season. The next was deployed two nights ago on a small loggerhead measuring 64cms in length. This will allow us to compare her movements with those of the loggerheads satellite tagged in previous seasons to see whether size has any bearing on their migrations. The rest will be designated for greens of over 80cms who have a previous nesting history and have returned to lay their 3rd clutch this season. Last night a suitable cadidate appeared on bay 3 around 1am and the volunteers and visitors waited excitedly to see if she would lay. Luckily she did and with the shout of "Satelliiiittttttttte!" we all mobilised to begin, bringing the heavy satellite equipment over to the turtle, along with tables from the beach bar (thanks to the strong visitors who helped the girls lug them halfway along the beach!). We performed the usual nesting duties while Robin got the glue and sandpaper ready. We waited for her to begin covering her body pit before we prepared her shell by cleaning and sanding to remover algae and barnacles. She was, in the words of our leader, "freaking massive" so there was definately space for the transmitter on her back! She was very calm during the application of the glue and transmitter, carrying on covering her body pit as if we weren't even there. When she was ready to move off the tables came in handy to form a box around her as the glue must be given at least 30 minutes to harden before coming into contact with water. She didn't seem to mind being out of water for a little longer to catch her breath before we removed the tables and watched her make her way to the sea. The visitors named her Marilyn, as in Monroe because she was obviously a hottie in the turtle world.
A little more info for you aspiring turtle watchers: this female nested this season on 08/06 and 21/06 and is 93cm long, 87cm wide. She was first spotted at Alagadi in 1993 and has been returning ever since. From this data we can imagine that she is pretty old and hopefully we will be able to track her for at least the next year. If you would like to follow her on the transmitter number is: 95097.
The excitement hasn't just been at basecamp this week, the Westies have been battling with some car issues which isn't unususual for this part of the project. The constant off-roading to the West beaches plays havoc with the cars and it wouldn't be West without some kind of vehicular problem! Luckily they were able to get back out there after a couple of days with the truck... although the lack of 4x4 caused a bit of a sand stickage problem and the truck was going nowhere very very slowly indeed. Step in Tony Hutchinson, our hero, and all was saved! So thank you very much to Tony and Maureen Hutchinson for keeping a watchful eye over the Westies.
It's not all work and no play down here though, most of the volunteers enjoyed a boat trip yesterday and welcomed the relaxation but not the excessive sunburn!