Trip One Volunteers, 2018.
Trip one began on the 29th of October, with CICI welcoming 10 volunteers!
The beginning of the trip began slowly for nesting females, although some exciting experiences along the way to our first turtle tag!
The trip started with an overnight journey to Panasesa, with an early morning snorkel and swim!
After an exciting afternoon exploring the island and playing with the newly hatched Green turtles, the volunteers headed out for the first patrol at Irai for the first trip.
Unfortunately, no turtles were found for the first half of the trip. Mid trip, the afternoon shift volunteers were patrolling the islands of Gabugabutau and Tupit when they received a radio call for a nesting female Hawksbill located on Panasesa Island! A quick dinghy trip later, all of the volunteers were able to experience the first tagging and genetics sampling of the trip!
Once the first turtle was tagged, the trip was off and running! Volunteers travelled on the Undersea Explorer to the Reef Islands, where the first Turtle Rodeo of the season happened! Patrick, Luke and Steven showed the Volunteers how it's done, with a total of 5 Juvenile turtles on the first trip out! They were taken back to the boat, where the volunteers were able to tag and photo ID. We identified distinctive injuries, and discussed age determination and the movements of sea turtles during the processes before sexual maturity.
Panasesa was the focus of this trips beach clean up, and we were amazed at how much pollution was found washed ashore!
We were all so excited to experience the first hawksbill hatchlings of the season! We separated the weaker hatchlings from the strong ones, and released the stronger ones out to sea. It was an incredible experience, as we watched the hatchlings crawl from the shore out to sea, a juvenile Green turtle swam past!
There were a total of 27 turtles tagged in the first trip! (Including Juveniles from Turtle Rodeo and Juveniles from the nursery), which is an impressive start to the season! Two nests were relocated, one into our shaded hatchery, and one at the island Irai, that was relocated due to being laid below the tide line.
There were wet nights, and sunny days, but the volunteers pushed through the late nights when patrolling the Conflict Islands. We learned about turtle biology, conservation and education and before we knew it, the two weeks were over!
Our first PADI Open water and Advance courses took place this trip! An amazing job to Dave our Dive instructor, and students: Nick, Martha, Naomi, and Tracey! Welcome to the world of diving!
A farewell beach bonfire and BBQ sent the first trip off to TewaTewa or Hammock Island for an awareness day, where they were met by an incredible welcoming of dancing, singing, education and more. It was the most incredible education day so far!
Thank you our volunteers, Tracey, Nick, Elka, Rachael, Martha, Gou, Naomi, Lourie, and Marie for kicking off the season with a bang! An incredible hard working team, and we hope to see you all in the future for more turtle and diving adventures!