| Sep 2, 2020
3 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back..
The beginning of 2020 saw the continuation of all of the research and conservation projects. We were in the peak of turtle and shark seasons, with daily checks of the turtle nesting beaches for new nests and the excavation of nests in full swing to assess the nesting success, and continued monitoring of the Lemon shark juveniles.
The juvenile sharks were also busy tracking themselves after the implantation of 20 acoustic transmitters during October and November, with their acoustic signals being automatically recorded on 12 fixed receivers throughout their habitat. The preliminary results are in and they show that out of 329,208 acoustic detections, only 1,203 of those detections were in the deeper waters off of Curieuse. This shows that the juvenile sharks strongly prefer the shallow waters of the island and further highlights the importance of protecting it, especially the mangrove areas.
The rat eradication project has also been continuing. We have been seeing tentative evidence of ecosystem recovery following the removal of rats, with a number of native species being seen in areas they have not been seen before, and certain strong evidence such as the sporadic presence of large numbers of butterflies and dragonflies, also certainly not seen before. We hope the expansion of the study area will now allow us to answer a number of questions regarding the potential of the Goodnature A24 traps for control and eradication of rats within the Seychelles.
Having got off to a great start for 2020, of course the coronavirus pandemic is now having a severe impact on all countries of the world, and Seychelles has not escaped. At the moment there are no volunteers to assist with our research and conservation projects due to global travel bans, so we have had to drastically scale back our activities.
Some of our research projects will likely not be carried out this year, such as the annual giant tortoise census and the BRUV surveys, however we are maintaining some activities. The rat eradication project is continuing uninterrupted. Some monitoring of the turtle nesting beaches is continuing, and we will likely also manage to continue some monitoring of the tortoise hatchlings in the nursery. While we have undoubtedly had to scale back many of our field activities, we are still able to maintain some, and with less fieldwork going on it presents a great opportunity to focus on data analysis and producing and publishing scientific papers.
With volunteers expected to arrive back on Curieuse Island in mid-October, turtle and shark data collection will resume.
For the first couple of months of 2020 we continued the great progress in research and conservation on Curieuse. While this is now clearly a very challenging time for everybody, we feel it is important to identify areas we can take advantage of to continue the great work that everyone has contributed to over the years, and that is what we plan to continue doing!
Thank you all for your continued support, fundraisers and donations. It really does makes a difference.
Seychelles Curieuse Island Conservation