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.
The field camp I am stationed at in Mayumba National Park is called Nyafessa, which means 'Mermaid' in one of the local Gabonese languages, and it is magical in every sense of the word. Nyafessa is one of the more primitive of the field camps in the park, as a permanent field camp is still under construction, so we are without running water or electricity, but it is still incredibly comfortable. There is a nearby stream where we are able to gather drinking water and shower near where it empties into the ocean.
As I mentioned in a previous post, olive ridleys are not the first sea turtle to be satellite tracked in Gabon. Collaborators at seaturtle.org, the Marine Turtle Research Group and Wildlife Conservation Society have been tracking leatherback sea turtles for the last several years - and have found that they cross the entire Atlantic Ocean!
The TOPP sea turtle team is excited to announce the publication of our leatherback tracking manuscript just released in the open source scientific journal, PLoS Biology on July 15, 2008, Persistent Leatherback Turtle Migrations Present Opportunities for Conservation.
Mr. Leatherback, GTRII Race Central -- Billie II takes the silver medal in the trans-Pacific marathon. There's a turtle pile-up at the finish line as Amban and JK Turtling battle for third place with Shelby finishing strong. It's also a close contest for second place in the twirling competition with Drexelina II, Jingjing, and Amban separated by just three twirls.
Mr. Leatherback, Hopkins Marine Lab, Pacific Grove, CA -- And they're away... the 2008 trans-Pacific marathon to the international dateline has begun!
Jane Stevens, in Berkeley, CA - Check out "Tagging of Pacific Predators" on KQED-TV's QUEST!
George Shillinger, Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA -- We're keeping our eyes on the four remaining Great Turtle Race leatherbacks whose satellite tags are still transmitting: Turtleocity, Genevieve, Freedom and Billie. In case you're new to TOPP, we co-sponsored the Great Turtle Race last April, in which eleven leatherback turtles "raced" from Playa Grande, Costa Rica, to the Galapagos for 14 days.
George Shillinger, Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA -- A couple of weeks ago, Flat Ava and Flat Joe arrived at the Hopkins Marine Station safe and sound after their long journey from the 4th grade class at Catherine Cook School in Chicago.
Jane Stevens at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab - This weekend, former TOPP principal investigator Randy Kochevar will be the guest speaker at Camp Ocean Pines 2008 Marine Science Series. Randy developed "Mysteries of the Deep" for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and was the first outreach coordinator for TOPP. He'll talk about TOPP's history, the 22 species of animals that our researchers have tagged, including elephant seals, white sharks, turtles, squid, and albatross.