In general, the days tend to be slow and quiet and mostly spent trying to keep cool. I have a favorite spot on the beach under a nice tree where I like to nap, read, write in my journal or occasionally watch TV shows and movies on my ipod, while always on the lookout for birds, lizards and other interesting wildlife. Occasionally, the Ecoguards and I will go for hikes to nearby savannahs in hopes of seeing elephants, buffalos or other wildlife. Many of the Ecoguards are former hunters and animal trackers so they excellent at following the subtle signals animals leave behind. Its inspiring to be working along side people who are now dedicating their lives to protecting the very resources they once hunted.
In the evenings, we eat dinner together as a group. Aside from locally grown foods such as plantains, fresh food is difficult to come by outside of the major cities in Gabon, and at the field camp we have no refrigeration so we rely on dried and canned foods exclusively. At times, the food is not overly appealing (rice and canned sardines is a common meal here) but with as much exercise as we do here, hunger overcomes all! And I am known to always have a secret stash of peanut M&Ms hidden somewhere, if for no other reason than to remind me of home.
Sometimes in the evenings and on rainy days we play cards, but always head to bed early for some rest before getting up to patrol the beach for turtles at night, sometimes walking up to 15 miles over the course of the evening. It can be incredibly exhausting (I have learned that it is actually possible to fall asleep walking!) but worth it every time we come across a nesting turtle, going through one of the Earth's oldest rituals.
To follow the turtles online, go to The Gabon Turtle Project Page on seaturtle.org
Click here to learn more about Mayumba National Park and donate to the park
This work is generously supported by:
National Science Foundation
Myers Oceanographic Trust
Friends of Long Marine Lab
Project Collaborators and Partners:
Parcs National Gabon
Partenariat Tortues Marines Gabon