GUEST BLOG - Martha Eimba, Marine Science student at University of Papua New Guinea
My name is Martha Eimba I have recently completed my final year at the University of Papua New Guinea and I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in April 2019. I first heard of the Conflict Islands conservation Initiative through a friend of mine who also took part in the turtle monitoring program in 2017 at the Conflict Islands. Needless to say I was privileged enough to get sponsored by the Coral Sea foundation to do the 2 weeks turtle monitoring program at the beautiful Conflict group of islands.
I am originally from Milne Bay and I am ashamed to say that I have eaten turtles at some point in my life or worn jewellery made from turtle shells being ignorant to the fact that these creatures were endangered. I think that the turtle monitoring program has thought me a lot, seeing the effects of poaching and how it inevitably affects the populations of these turtles that come up to lay eggs.
I Have never seen a turtle come up to lay eggs even though I grew up in a coastal area and thanks to the turtle patrols I have seen a turtle lay eggs and it is a sad sight knowing that there are hundreds of turtles out there being killed the moment they crawl out of the sea to lay eggs and it is sad fact that some of these turtle eggs will never get to see the light of day nor will they ever get to rub their small bellies on the white sand as they crawl towards the open ocean.
This turtle monitoring program has though me a lot from how to care for sick and injured baby turtles and how to tag turtles to data entry, facial Identity of turtles into the database and turtle biology with Hayley Versace who has been so amazing to us during our two week stay at Conflicts. It is just amazing how turtles will always come back to lay eggs on the same beach that they hatched on so it vital that we protect their nesting and feeding sites. Moreover with the effects of global warming it is important that we monitor the sex ratios so we do not get as many female turtles as males since temperature is a sex determinant for turtles. I have truly learnt a lot about turtles some of which I have never known before.
As a sea woman of Melanesia I am capable now to go out there and be a turtle advocate in the remote coastal areas of Papua New Guinea to share the fantastic work that CICI is doing to save our turtles. Great work Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative!
Thank you to Coral Sea Foundation for making this possible.