Review: Research Assistant for Latin American Sea Turtles

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.

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LAST Week Ten: Pura Vida!

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.

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LAST Week Nine: The Beginning of the End

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.

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LAST Week Eight: Satellites and Seagrass

This week has flown by, with a lot of new and different experiences including putting a satellite tracker on a turtle and an intense three-day seagrass survey.

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ZP Week Fourteen: Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!

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.

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ZP Week Thirteen: The Penultimate Pinnipeds

This week has felt the quickest in a series of weeks that have felt exceptionally quick. Such is the result of coming to the end of things – I imagine next week will be even worse!

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ZP Week Eight: Fatalities and Failed Feedings

After saying in my last blog that I hadn’t seen the pox seal or the one with the neck wound (Draal) that was how I started my week. Lucifer is the one with pox and despite the name is incredibly cute and sweet.

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The Reluctant Release

10.30am today and I was off on my first release. It was just two seals being taken by a nurse and her extended family as a New Year’s get-together outing, plus me crashing. I’ve been reliably informed that releases are generally a ‘goodbye and thanks for all the fish’ situation, but Sjef and Cipri were not so excited to go home.

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ZP Week Four: Hand Feeding , Holding and Houdini

I’ve had a really amazing week here and feel like I’ve progressed a lot. In myself I can feel I’m more confident with the work and comfortable around the seals. I’ve also been trusted with a larger range of tasks and responsibilities (hmm, could it be connected I wonder…).

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So This Is Christmas…

… and what have you done?

What were you doing at 2pm on Christmas Day? If I were home, it would be about the end of a customary long dog walk. I would shower, maybe peel some potatoes if pressured, watch Christmas telly and generally wait for parental permission to drink wine and open presents (the relative importance of the wine and the presents has shifted over the years).

Today, I was at a seal necropsy, because nothing says festive like internal organs. But let’s start at the beginning.

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