Monthly Archives: November 2012

Morning Patrol

Reporting in from Sal, Cape Verde again. The killing heat of the first few days has let up to make way for stormy wind and nicer temperatures. A lot of wind, kite and wave surfers are starting to turn up here for the start of the surfing season. Every time I see them skimming across the sea I get the urge to join them. It looks like so much fun!

Being a sand island, Sal has almost no vegetation and accordingly, no local fruit or vegetables. The only thing they can actually produce here is probably goat cheese. A man in a strange floppy hat comes by the house twice a week to sell cheese. Other than that, dried things such as beans, chickpeas, peas etc. make up a large part of the diet here. Fruit and veggies are pretty expensive. I spend a good part of my free time experimenting with how you can variate bean stew to be more interesting. My newest successful creation is caramel porridge.

The work has become a sort of routine by now. Morning patrol, nap, lunch, hatchery, release tour, bed. I don’t really feel like going out very much. But since we’ve moved to the house next door, I have a room to myself, right at the top of the house, with a bunk bed and if you stretch a little you can see the sea.

To maybe illustrate what I do a little better, I’ve taken pictures of one of the morning patrols.When we set out its still not quite light. The sun slowly comes up while we work. The beach, called Costa Fragata, is quite long and toward the end of the season where theres not as many nests hatching, the part that takes longest is the walking, not the excavating. When we see tracks that look like the picture, we know a nest has hatched.

We dig up the nest and count the egg fragments and unhatched eggs, measure the nest.

Sometimes we’ll find stragglers in the nest, Babies that haven’t quite made it to the surface yet, like all their siblings. We let them make their way to the sea and watch out birds and crabs and dogs dont get them before they’ve even reached the water. After that they have to look after themselves and we wont see them again until they come back to nest, after 20 or more years.

As it is the end of the season though, the nests are getting fewer and the morning patrols shorter. Only two excavations today. Only a week or so ago there were 5-8 per day!

Good luck Babies!

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Cape Verde

Looong time since I have last updated. I can honestly say, its been a crazy couple of weeks. Took a train down from Montreal to New York, where I spent a few days with a friends friends friend (yep, thats a couple of corners!) who showed me around. Pictures shall follow in a few days, now that I have time to sort everything out.

Berlin for a week- far too short of a time to be in a place, especially when its home. That week took a lot of energy, seeing as how I wanted to just be there and be at home and hang out with friends, but couldn’t. There was too much going on, too much to organize, and too much that had changed since I left that I couldn’t quite process.

Flew down to Africa, completely exhausted. Each time I was asleep before take off and each time I missed the food (what a shame…).

Cape Verdian island Sal is, as you can tell even from the air, one of the most barren landscapes imgainable. The only patches of green you’ll find are rich people with too much money, planting a yard. Some shrubs line the dunes but even those are more brown than green. The town I’m, staying in is similarily dry and barren. Some houses are painted in vibrant colors, but most are not, and stand there in their crumbling grey, next to badly cobbled roads and patches of sandy ground.

Turtle house is a bright orange building right at the edge of the dunes that strech for maybe 500-700m before the sea. As it is the end of the season, there are only 4 rangers including me, and 3 monitors staying here.

Daily routine is morning patrol of the beaches, assorted tasks, tourist entertainment at the hatchery, and overnight watch at the hatchery. One person will not do all of these in one day… today for example I had morning patrol from 6-10:30, data entry, briefing at 3, then hatchery.

The patrol is the most taxing, 4 hours of walking on soft sand that gives way underfoot and looking for tracks. Baby turtle tracks look exactly like you would imagine them to look, considering it flips its flippers and slides on its belly: one fat continuous track with flipper prints all along the sides. Once found, a nest is excavated, measured and eggs counted and examined for the sake of science and any left over hatchlings set free. Continue walking and repeat.

If its not too sunny and hot, and you bring enough water its not too bad.

The hatchery is the same thing, just without the walking.

Other than that, life is very uneventful here. There is an astonishing lack of brain use required. So zombie-Lisa, switches off her brain and does as told by monitors (excavate, walk, data, tourists, sleep, repeat). Not a job Id like to have for the rest of my life, but for now, thats okay. I feel like I dont have to carry any responsibility as long as I do it thoroughly.

So here I am, and will be for the next 4 weeks or so. I have heard the other islands are more interesting, landscape-wise. I hope I will have the opportunity to explore with someone, getting around alone seems to be quite hard and less fun. Oh, in case that wasn’t obvious *hint, hint, nudge, nudge* visit mee!

So, to make this post worth your time, some turtle hatchlings from the hatchery!

Ps.: sorry, proper picture formating is impossible here, the internet is wayy too slow.


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