Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saving Endangered Species!

Our volunteers arrived Thursday, and they’ve been keeping us busy every day!!  Our volunteers are: Bret, Seiji, Mike, and Crystal.  Crystal and Mike are from southern California, and Bret and Seiji live in New England.

This group is very pro-active about marine debris and entangled endangered species.  In 3 days, they’ve already rescued a sea turtle entangled in a net and removed a couple small and one very large net conglomeration from the reef that might entangle monk seals and other organisms! 

Yesterday, while Anne and I were checking spat collectors at our Hook site (western backreef), our volunteers Mike and Crystal and Thai herbicide technician Bob (AKA Kittipong) found a green turtle tangled in a net.  Anne came to help and cut the turtle free while Bob and Mike held the turtle still.  Crystal played photographer and took some amazing photos of the sequence of events.  For more photos of the events, check out our 2010 photo collection on Google’s Picasa:

The turtle was overgrown with algae and bleeding where the net cut into his “shoulder”, so we think it had been entangled for a while.  It was very lucky that it was shallow enough that it could reach the surface to breathe.  All involved were very happy to watch the turtle swim away happily afterwards. 

The very large net conglomeration was on the exposed reef crest at one of our main sites on the east side of the atoll (site 172).  Island residents on a fun snorkel last week first reported the net, and Anne and I observed it as well.  When we went there on Friday on our first reef snorkel with the volunteers, we observed two monk seals lying on the net.  One was even briefly entangled, but managed to disentangle himself.  After they left, we cut a few obvious entanglement hazards, but vowed to return and remove the whole thing. 

Today we returned and removed most of it.  We took a variety of knives and snips and towed an empty dinghy behind our boat.  All four volunteers, visiting construction inspector Todd (who is now an honorary Coral Reefer!), and Don, Anne, and I worked very hard to remove the net, get it into the dinghy, swim the full dinghy back to the boat, and tow the dinghy back to the island.

1 comment:

Barb said...

Hi Kristin,

I really enjoyed reading about your turtle rescue; congratulations to all you Coral Reefers!...and thanks for visiting my FOAM blog!

(Btw, tell Don that I mailed his letter, to England I believe, the day after I returned home.)