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Women Changing the field of Science

"With perseverance and determination comes success," Martha says over the phone.

The field of science has always been dominated by men over the years. Nevertheless, I would like to introduce to you a young, vibrant lady that pushed past all odds to becoming a marine biologist.

Martha and Naomi of Coral Sea Foundation

This is her story.

My name is Martha Eimba and I am a member of the Sea Women of Melanesia. This team is facilitated by the Coral Sea Foundation.

Martha graduated recently from the university of Papua New Guinea with a Bachelor of Science Degree with very strong interest and passion in Marine Biology and Ocean Conservation.

“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 Islands”.

“I am ashamed that I have eaten turtle meat at some point in my life and have worn jewelry made from turtle shells. So as to be ignorant by the fact that these creatures were endangered.”

She strongly believed that the turtle monitoring program has thought her a lot, seeing the effects of poaching and how it inevitably affects the populations of these turtles that come up to lay eggs.

Martha with the other volunteers getting comfortable underwater

This turtle monitoring program taught Martha a lot; from how to care for sick and injured hatchling; how to tag turtles to data entry; facial Identification of turtles into the database; and turtle biology with Hayley Versace who had been so amazing to the girls during their two weeks stay at Conflict Islands.

It is just amazing how turtles will always come back to lay eggs on the same beach that they hatched on, so it is vital that we protect their nesting and feeding sites.

Martha strongly emphasized that, with the effects of global warming, it is important that we monitor the sex ratios in order to 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 learnt in my science class”, Martha expressed laughingly.

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 a sad truth that still remains a sad reality is 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 if we do not do something now!

This trio + a green turtle caught during turtle rodeo

“As a Melanesian woman, I feel obliged to go out and be a turtle advocate in the remote coastal areas of Papua New Guinea. I have also made it my responsibility to share the fantastic work that CICI is doing to save not just the turtles but the marine life as a whole”.

She is very much grateful and has extended her appreciations to Coral Sea Foundation for making her trip to the Conflict Islands a dream come true.

Fast forwarding to months after her graduation, Martha scored herself another trip of a lifetime. This time to Monterey Bay California, USA.

“I was selected as a participant of the Blue Pioneers Accelerator program. This program is an intensive two weeks professional training at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,” Martha said.

Martha along with members of the Blue Pioneers, Monterey Bay, California

Martha shows us her comfort zone underwater

Martha hopes to motivate and be an inspiration to young people and importantly empower the next generation of Melanesian women to take the lead in addressing and solving marine related issues in terms of establishing marine resources in their communities and the Coral Sea Foundation – Sea Women of Melanesia training program which creates a platform for training and advocacy for ocean conservation issues and women empowerment.

This young aspiring leader and marine conservationist has fallen short of words to express how much grateful she is. Nonetheless, continues to thank the broad network of donors for the privilege given to her to complete her Open Water Dive training at the Conflict Islands Conservation Facility.

At this training program that she anticipates taking her diving to the next level.

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