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Researcher supervising data collection

Volunteer groups participate with GTCP

Hi everyone,

Since December 2010, the GTCP has hosted several diverse groups of community volunteers in morning monitoring activities, from individuals to groups varying in size from 2 – 15 people.  Some of the volunteers who joined us were university students; however we have also had the pleasure of working with older persons as well as with family groups!

On 18 January 2011, Geoff Elliot and his extended family (totalling 15 adults and children) joined us for 4 days of participation with our beach monitoring activities, all of whom were very interested and enthusiastic about their involvement with the program. On the evening of their arrival, GTCP researchers gave a Powerpoint presentation to the family group, detailing sea turtle biology and conservation, threats facing turtles, an explanation of their work at Gnaraloo as well as results achieved by the survey work so far.

Over the next few days, the Gnaraloo study area was divided into 2 sub-sections, with participants forming 2 groups and separately patrolling each sub-section, under the guidance of a GTCP researcher, in the hope of finding turtle tracks and nesting activities. It was also hoped to observe some hatchlings which were due to hatch at any time. As all family members from the group did not participate on the same days, the overall group size on the beach was kept small, in accordance with our strict policy of keeping any possible impacts on turtles from GTCP activities to a minimum.

While no nests were observed to hatch during the group’s stay, they saw numerous turtle tracks and were pleased to assist GTCP researchers in data collection whilst learning how to differentiate between various turtle species (based only on track predictions!) and nest activity types (for example, successful nesting attempts, unsuccessful nesting attempts and u-tracks).  Below are some extracts from the feedback Geoff provided after returning home:

Everybody had the best time experiencing and enjoying all the treats that Gnaraloo has to offer.  Allowing my grandchildren to participate in the observations and recording was a wonderful experience for them and gave them an awareness of other career options such as the marine and ecological sciences.”

Now we all know a lot more about sea turtles, their life cycle, nesting habits and unfortunately the high level of predation that the species has to endure.”

Thanks to everyone who have come to Gnaraloo so far to learn about turtles! We enjoy engaging you in our research and informing you about the work and its importance.

Check up on us again to see how the volunteer program is going!

Marie

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