Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Thursday, 16th July 2015
2015 is well under way and at the years half-way mark our Watamu Sea Turtle Project has already recorded an impressive 57 nests, making it a record nesting year so far. Thirty two of these nests have already hatched and 2,799 little hatchlings have made it to the ocean. As well as being busy laying record numbers of nests, the turtles have also been laying in areas that normally do not see much activity; with the lasts nests laid in 2010 and 2001.
The By Catch Release Programme is still in full force, providing 398 turtles with a second chance at life this quarter. The team is on standby 7 days a week to rescue any turtles accidently caught by local fisherman or washed ashore.
Ten new patients have joined the turtle rehabilitation centre this quarter. Sadly not all the turtles that join the centre make it back to the ocean. Three of the green turtles admitted with Fibropapillomatosis, a disease which causes the growth of tumors on soft tissue, did not recover.
But the team have had plenty to celebrate with Rosie who, after spending over a month at the rehabilitation centre, was released on World Turtle Day! Another patient Barnaby was also released after spending some time being treated for a barnacle infestation. Baby, an olive ridley post-hatchling made a speedy recovery with the help of staff at the centre and was released close to the reef. Last but definitely not least Mturi, brought in with some mysterious head wounds, was also released successfully.
The 5th June also saw the celebration of World Environment Day. To mark this significant occasion a beach clean-up in the Watamu Marine National Park was organised, with 700 people turning up to remove almost 4 tonnes of rubbish from 5km of turtle nesting beach.
Conservation education is a hugely important part of the work carried out by the Watamu Turtle Project and this quarter has been all about getting hands on with mangrove restoration. A whopping total of 866 mangrove seedlings have been planted by students and teachers in areas of deforestation. This will help to restore this delicate and vital ecosystem. The Local Ocean Marine Scouts have also been busy with visits to the Watamu National Marine Park to learn about rock pools and traditional fishing methods and the Bio-Ken Snake Farm to learn about other conservation projects.
Education doesn’t stop with the local students. Marine pollution has been a topic of focus for the local community groups. With increased debris being washed ashore recently due to south east monsoon winds two of these groups have managed to collect around 200kg of plastic from the beach. Members from the Youth Future Concern Group have passed on knowledge of the marine environment to stop people from throwing rubbish into the ocean!
The Marine Green Garden is also flourishing as a demonstration site to encourage community groups to learn about different flora as well as recycling, organic farming and other basic techniques that can be easily replicated. Some other activities conducted with the local community include a football tournament for children, anti-poaching surveys and a First Aid refresher course. Some team members also joined in with de-snaring activities and reforestation efforts alongside stakeholders in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest.
If you want to get involved and join the team at our Watamu Turtle Project in Kenya click here for more information.
By Megan Smith, WorkingAbroad team
Blog articles from our projects, volunteers in the field and the wider world are posted here.