Week 2

Overwhelming emotion this week…… tiredness.  I can´t even begin to explain how hard it is to get up at 11pm and walk 9 miles in wet sand, hunting for turtles.  At the end of this time though I am going to have buns of steel I can tell you that much!!

The routine of life here is very varied, work rosters get put out weekly so you dont really know what youre up to more than a week ahead of time.  This week Ive done a bird survey which involves recording different species on a particular stretch of canal, 2 nest excavations (no more live hatchlings like last week) and 3 night walks which is the 9 mile walk overnight, either on a shift of 9pm – 1am or 11pm – 3am.  Eek!

The first night walk I did was cut short due to thunderstorms…. they are incredible here! We were sitting in the kitchen waiting to go out and saw lightening actually hit the base, later discovering it had burned out the phone line and one of the lights.  Ive never been scared of lightening before but I was PETRIFIED.  When the storm had passed, we did go out but came back in as the conditions were dire.

The second night walk was more eventful – at the far end of the beach we encountered a green turtle on the beach.  She looked like she was going to dig her nest so prepared all of the kit.  When you encounter a turtle laying, there are a number of tasks to perform.  One person counts the eggs, another triangulates the nest so it can be excavated in 70-ish days and check on hatchling success rates, another tags the turtle if necessary, and then the turtle is measured and checked for any deformities, injuries etc.

Its pretty incredible being so close to the turtle, and actually being able to touch and interact with it.  You need a special license to do this, its highly illegal to interfere with the turtles whatsoever otherwise.

I was in charge of measuring the turtle.  She decided not to lay afterall, and turned around to return to sea.  I was chasing the turtle down the beach, trying desperately to get 3 accurate measurements of carapace length, which needed to be within 3mm of each other, while the turtle is racing surprisingly fast down the beach! It was hard work but I managed it in the end.

Later that same walk, right at the end of the 9 miles, we encountered another turtle – this time a critically endangered Hawksbill.  This turtle did actually end up laying 152 eggs, so it took us around 2 hours to wait for the turtle to dig her nest, lay the eggs and then bury the nest again.  I measured this turtle too…. again it is very hard work!  The turtles flippers are so powerful, and you do the measuring at the point where she is reburying the nest.  Sand is going everywhere and the flippers are going crazy…. Im straddling the turtle trying to take the measurements, and I swear she was trying to push me over!  Again I got it done in the end, and I also got to do the body check, so actually touching the turtle was amazing…

Most of my free time is spent trying to prepare myself for the next marathon walk- Ive rapidly learned that if im tired and have some spare time then SLEEP… It just doesnt work to think oh, Ill stay up for a while and sleep later, sometimes the sleep later doesnt work and youre knackered.

Life is pretty simple here, and the small things are appreciated.  A drink that is actually COLD is amazing.  And the most special treat of all is a pair of dry socks.  Crazy how your priorities change….

Other things Ive seen – Caiman sitting on the beach last night pretending to be a log, a vine snake eating a baby gecko, some kind of black beetle about the size of my hand, an actual woodpecker (love him… hahaha his head swivels just like in the cartoon!! And he had a red mohawk!), various snakes (station manager is a snake expert and hes always catching them for our observation, its great!)

Spider-o-meter: Dont even notice them any more

Mozzie-bite-o-meter: Ridiculous amounts. I ITCH SO MUCH

Buns: Steelifying by the day

Take care yall, I want to hear how youre going too!!!

Love, Jess xxx


7 Responses to “Week 2”

  1. Delphine Says:

    Hey Jess!

    Seems like you’re having “fun”? 🙂
    It’s great you’re doing that! I hear you about the simple things you get to appreciate! I went to Africa ages ago, 3 weeks in a village with nothing and we had a black board on which we wrote everything we wanted. tehre were things like a cold glass or water, some watermelon, a fresh shower, etc 🙂


  2. Iris Greenland Says:

    No wonder the first turtle didn’t lay with you lot watching, ha ha! Loved the description of you hurtling down the beach with your measuring tape in hand. xxx

  3. MutantMaster Says:

    So – you’re a licenced turtle interfere eh! Must have on cv for return to civilisation.

  4. MutantMaster Says:

    That should be interferer!

  5. Shoo Says:


    Glad to hear that you have to have a license to ‘interfere’ with turtles, and there was me worrying that any old kiwi could do it!!!! (Sorry mate, couldn’t resist!)

    Sounds like you’re having the most awesome time, so pleased for you. Keep writing the blog, it’s so cool to hear about everything you’ve been up to.

    I’ll leave you a little note on FB to read if you get the chance.
    Anyway, keep enjoying, keep snoozing when you can and stop that bloody scratching!

    Take care dude, thinking of you having such an amazing time.
    Love Shoo xx

  6. Kev -D- Says:

    Hi Jess,

    Glad to see you actually did it… Well Done…

    Hope you enjoy yourself..


  7. Hannah Says:

    Hi Jess,
    Just read all your entries. Hope you continue to enjoy it and are getting enough sleep!

    Will miss you at my housewarming this weekend


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