After my brief stint working at Bristol Aquarium, I didn’t think I’d ever willingly step into an aquarium during the February half term again. But somehow, earlier this month, I found myself doing just that, all in the name of coral reef conservation.
Almost a year after completing the ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor course, yesterday I was able to volunteer on my first survey, ‘looking out for whales and dolphins’ on the Brittany Ferries route between Plymouth, UK, and Roscoff, France.
I spent ten weeks as a research assistant for Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) on their Osa In-Water Project. This is one of very few projects that aims to study sea turtles in their foraging environment rather than on nesting beaches (which only make up 2% of the life cycle, and where you can only study adult females and hatchlings). I worked with hawksbill, green and Pacific green turtles. The project also has a mangrove reforestation element, and aims to work with and within the local community.
Our last day off was spent swimming and sunbathing and generally being very lazy and soaking up the Costa Rican sun. Then it was time to say goodbye to our volunteer, with only a couple of days before we got to meet our replacement research assistants. Some toucans turned up in our papaya tree and the macaws seemed even more numerous than ever, just to remind of us of how incredible our home for the past ten weeks has been.
We said goodbye to J a week ago, which really started to feel like the beginning of the end of our time here. This week we’ve had three pretty successful ocean days, including catching an adult male hawksbill to set our second satellite tracker on.
I spent 3 and a half months from December 2017 to March 2018 volunteering on the Seal Care Team at Zeehondencentrum Pieterburen, a rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands. If you want to know more you can read my weekly posts, or get in touch.
My fourteenth and final week is now over, and I write this on the train to the airport. I’ll try to save my overall thoughts for a later review post and focus on what’s happened over the past seven days, because it’s never too late to have new experiences.
The highlight of this week was getting to ‘jump’ three grey seals when they needed to be chipped. James Bond, Blinky and Bular have now all been moved to Bi-Bu, and I didn’t make a total idiot of myself catching them. Success all round!
My tenth week here has flown by… they all do, but I think this one was especially quick as it was more varied. I got to go to a few different places, work with several feeders, and even go on a release!