Thursday, 14 October 2010

The End :(

Following my last blog I bumped into several of our other volunteers from Lacacao over the course of the day (Sal Rei is like that, sooo small) as they were set to leave the island the following day :( We arranged to go out for a meal for their last night. That evening we all met in a bar for a bite to eat. There was Isabel and Angel from Madrid were the nicest couple, really genuine and caring people. Then there was Sandra from Portugal, a stunning lady- you would never guess her age. Daniela from Switzerland, Rudy the local, the Sergeant of our soldiers and Dominguez, one of the local assistants. It was a nice good-bye and good to socialise out side of the campsite. Just a shame the others could not be there with us.

The following day I eventually arrived back at camp and opted for an early night as I was set for the Censos at 4:30am. I awoke at 4 for my routine coffee bread and jam and had a good feeling. Whilst I had been away for the previous day 11 hatchlings had been found left in one of the nests and a few other nests had hatched. As me and Bid Joy (all the soldiers have nick names) strolled down Lacacao beach we came across 2 small tracks, these were definitely not crab tracks. We each followed a tracked each; they looped up towards the construction site and back down towards the sea. Gradually more and more tracks became apparent and as we neared the nest tracks ran in every direction, up the beach, down the beach around and around, everywhere. It was sad to see so many that had headed the complete opposite way to the sea, the lights from the construction site the culprit for sure. Once we had checked the tracks heading the wrong way to see if we could save them in time (with no luck) we set about excavating the nest for research purposes, and to see if there were any left that were unable to get out.

We found 3 alive and kicking hatchling, 80 empty shells that had hatched and made it out of the nest (we know this as there were so many tracks) 5 that had not made it out in time. There were just 2 eggs that ha not hatched at all so we re-buried these, just on the off chance.

Once we had finished the excavation we set about releasing the 3 hatchlings that we had saved. Usually its something that you do at nighttime to minimize the predator factor but as the sun had just come up we decided it was better to do it then (previous times the babies have been kept at the camp throughout the heat of the day and not even made it to the evening to be released)

It was an amazing feeling, my first releases. The feelings of satisfaction, triumphant hope, and the journey ahead all mixed together. The finish line had been reached for these hatchlings; the ultimate reason beyond the poachers, tagging the mothers and collecting the research came at this point. The final part of the reason I was there, the moment I had been waiting for was bliss. They wobbled and dragged them selves down the sand, fighting against the waves as they swept through and push them back. 10 pulls forwards, 15 back. They were persistent though and did not stop trying, again they pulled their way forwards and as the next wave washed past them they used their remaining energy to surf their way back on the retreating water.

They had made it.

We then completed the Censos on Lacacao and headed for the next beach to survey, Curralito. As we passed along the cliff overlooking the beach I suddenly spotted tracks running down, similar to the nest we had just seen but this time almost all in the right direction :) We excavated the nest and found 1 alive hatchling, again the same feelings returned as we released him. As we returned to camp I grabbed my snorkel and U-turned straight to the beach. There was an extreme calmness about the sea today, no waves at all, something I have not seen since my arrival 5 weeks prior. I spotted all kinds of fish and sizes; it’s a magical world. Sometimes I wonder if lived in the sea in a past life haaaa.

The following day (05102010) consisted of lots more snorkeling. Its something that I had not had a chance to do in all my time here so I was making the most of it. Later that night with minimal mosquitoes about I lay on the sand gazing at the stars listening to some phat tunes. I reflected on my times here so far, where it was taking me and indulged myself in the peace and tranquility, what a space to be in.

On the 6th I completed the posters I had designed for our beach clean up. We were set to put them up at the construction site, we felt it an important thing to try and engage them within the work, it might even put the beaches in better stead for when we were gone, the cam and the project the following week. With no one to overlook the beach it was now down to who ever was about to keep an eye on things. We headed to the site to put the posters up and have a nice cold refreshing beer, well deserved :) After this I went for another snorkel and found a small lobster covered in a purple shell. When I got back from the beach Ukie was dropping off our supplies and there to say good bye. He had 4 days work on another island and most of us were set to leave within that time. What a good man and cool friend. Later that night I was set for a patrol on Curral Velho the beast of a beach, my favorite patrol (after the censos) but one I had not done for a long time. When I got back I remembered quite how long and hard the patrol can be- I already miss it.

The following day (08102010) was spent largely reflecting and realising how little time I had left. Asked if I wanted to choose my patrol for my nearly last patrol, I jumped on the censos for Lacacao/Curralito.

Up at 5 with my Cafe and bread with jam n peanut butter mmmmm. This was the best day, best patrol, or easily one of. Lacacao 1 hatched nest with 4 babies that we released following the excavation. Curralito consisted of 3 hatched nests, tracks running everywhere :) We excavated finding 3 hatchlings in the first, 7 in the next and in the 3rd there were none but this is actually a really good thing because it means they were fit and strong as all had hatched, none were dead and no signs of crabs :)

It’s really hard and is almost unbelievable that it’s really nearly over. 6 weeks have flown by and I wish they were not already ending. I headed for a snorkel, I was really keen to spot some sharks as a lot of people have spotted hem now. It was still fairly early, around 7.10am following the censos so I sat and gazed in to the sea for a while. Suddenly I spotted 2 baby reef sharks so ran down to the water, as I began to snorkel I spotted them but they were gone in an instant. But there it was, albeit only for few seconds.

The last day and night at Lacacao :( The 9th October 2010

Again I opted for the censos, finding a further 5 hatchling for release :)

The day of the beach clean up. It was really successful! A number of the construction workers joined us for the clean up and the beach was spotless by the time we finished, making it even nicer than ever. Following the clean up Bid Joy, David, Matss and I decided, as it was the last night we should probably have a beer or 2 to celebrate, the only problem was that the bar at the construction site would be closed within 10 minutes. We sprinted our way down and just about made it, a cold beer was needed. There was lots of laughing, joking and dancing before our final patrol. I headed to Lacacaco beach with Carrie to head the patrol and it was strange, the last time I would walk these sands.

Ok picture this. Pitch-black darkness with the clearest twinkling stars with the waves crashing around you. Now X the number of stars in your imagination by 20. This is not the sky that night or any other night. As we looked down when we were half way along the beach that is what we saw. Following a high tide a large pool of water had been left to slowly drain from the beach, leaving a sky of sparkling plankton in its wake

'Its often mislabeled as "phosphorescence" which is a kind of chemical reaction. The tiny phytoplankton that create the glowing sands phenomenon do so by a biological process called bioluminescence' - (ref: )

It is one of the most spectacular things I have seen and is truly amazing how similar it looked to an extremely stary galaxy. I knelt down by the hallow pool of water; the sparkling plankton consumed the edges of the pool. As I levitated my hand 1cm above the water the bluish lights came to life. Suddenly the whole puddle began to light up and close in on the centre of the pool, it was incredible, and I was almost left speechless. It began to look like a birds eye view of a city from above. Science and nature truly can be magical! Wish I'd had my camera with me :(

10092010. A sad day for all. The soldiers are heading back on their boat for Sal Rei, Volunteers are flying back home and the camp will be taken down tomorrow. Then that will be it. Our campsite and work is finished. I have not met or spoken to another British person for 6 weeks and it has been refreshing. I have gained friends from all over the world- Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Cabo Verde, USA, Switzerland and Germany. I realise how lucky I have been to work on this project and with these people. I really, truly recommend that you consider experiencing this next season. You can spend 2 weeks or even 2 months, either way you will have the time of your life. I have learnt so much and have already begun to take the next step.

I received a response for the RFA job I applied for in Costa Rica and it has been accepted. I will be flying out on the 18102010 and be spending up to 4 months on the project. I am bursting with excitement and cant wait to see what adventures and stories are in store for me.

I really hope I get to see you over the next few days, and if I don’t look after yourselves. I will be way for Xmas but will see you all in the New Year. Big love. S x

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