Monday, February 20, 2006


I wrote a post "Island State" about spending a month last May at KIDO, Carriacou, West Indies monitoring turtle nesting sites. I really, really, really wanted to be there for hatching season. Unfortunatly the turtles started nesting later than usual (maybe due to Hurricane Ivan the year before...) so i saw much egg laying but no babies. Somehow i survived and managed to have a amazing time.

Usually i stayed on just one beach Anse Laroche, with a couple of the local guys. Napping in the shelter then patrolling the beach between 8pm and 5am, then back to KIDO for breakfast and naps. If any Turtles were spotted we rang Dario and Marina and they came with the equipment.
I wondered why not give the stuff to the guys and let them do the measuring, counting etc. While they worked when others around, he didn't quite trust them to do it properly, and had been burnt before. I guess its a form of subtle racism, treat people as children don't give them responsibilty, then wonder why they can't do it.
I saw the same thing when i was in Africa, i spent 5 weeks travelling with 3 guides, all locals, all loverly, smart, capable men. But we whiteys had to keep the food money and hand it to them to go shopping, and they were not allowed to drive the new shiny truck, but it was ok for the stoner NZ guide to handle money and drive the new truck.

Anyway thats a huge topic, back to the turtles....

The local guys while very nice were not that reliable. They had to be rung up every day to see if they could make that night. Most nights was fine, but one night no one could make it and Dario was not going to let me go on my own. So we went out in the Zodiac, patrolling 6 beaches, napping on the Catameran. We did this for 13 nights straight during full moon which was stunning. I saw a Moonbow. It was about 10pm, full moon, rain just cleared, and over the water was a perfect white arch...never seen anything like it.
We tried new approaches to the beaches, the Zodiac, the speed boat, the kayak on the speedboat, anchored offshore and paddled in. Did a bit of fishing and only got yelled at a couple of times for nearly driving the Zodiac into something. I really enjoyed doing it that way, even the spine jarring plough through big waves at 3am hoping you weren't going to ram into a smugglers speedboat running without lights.

I got this email on the weekend, the pictures aren't great but soooooo cute...

Joey, the young vol from Vancouver had some encounters with hatchlings...see the photos: he was there alone with Chalkie, the dog (well, maybe she is more than just a dog..), he was lying down when she barked and he could see nothing around him, then she picked up something and gently laid it on his chest! The first hatchling of 105, all born from the nest under the bench! But Anse Laroche land was sold to developers, three hugeroads are now open, the horrors, our work is more important than ever to save the nesting beach...

Take care dear Coz, sorry for delay, I miss your cool, especially on a slamming dinghy, darkest rough night, rocks lurking all about, wet and salty, and still looking for turtles! Really felt good with you. Hope you get more into env. programs, you have what it takes.
love dario & marina & da zoo at sanctuary

(shhh, ok maybe some of his phrasing could have been slightly different...totally innocent i'll have you know...)