For the past week we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Andrew Greenley, a former Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program (GTCP) turtle and current GTCP trainer. The reason for his visit was to teach us the finer points of turtle track Species Identification and Nesting Activity Determination. Andrew has also assisted in preparing us, as much as possible, for the nesting season before it really gets into full swing.
In the absence of any real turtle tracks to observe, much of our initial training was limited to quizzes and revising the basics. Although tedious at times, this ensured that we all had a solid theory base to put into practice once the nesting began; and also made sure that we all now have the correct spelling of Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, and Eretmochelys imbricata forever cemented in our brains.
In addition to our own turtle track training, we all got the opportunity to complete a “Train the Trainer” course with Andrew, essentially teaching us how to train others. This involved each of us leading a beach survey and instructing Andrew’s alter ego (Randy Magnum) on safety, survey procedures, identification of tracks and nests, the history of the program, and information about the area. We also threw in some fun facts about turtles for good measure.
As Andrew was due to depart on Wednesday, we were anxious for the arrival of our first turtle so we could take advantage of his experience in the field. You could imagine our excitement when we saw him driving back from Monday morning’s survey about an hour earlier than usual. The morning survey team had found some tracks! Andrew had come to pick up the rest of us so we could get a good look at the tracks before the wind blew them away. Once we’d arrived we put our training to use and discovered that we’d not only witnessed our first tracks, but also our first nest of the season. At the behest of our international team members, we decided to celebrate the occasion with a delicious kangaroo dinner.
Andrew started his long drive home this morning, and although he’s only been here a week it’ll be hard to get used to the team without him. So on behalf of the team I’d like to say thanks to Andrew for his time and training. We’re all feeling better prepared, not just for the turtles, but also for some of the crazy stuff that inevitably seems to happen here at Gnaraloo.
If you ever need a break from the real world you’re always welcome back!