Feb 25, 2019

Turtle Conservation - Protect Turtles in South Africa

Hey what’s up guys john here and as I mentioned last time I was recently overseas doing some conservation projects with Volunteers Southern Africa.

While I was there I visited their brand new project which is called living with sea turtles.

Living with sea turtles is a brand new project that just launched and it’s focused on marine life and sea turtle conservation.

When they first asked me if I want to go I didn’t really know what to expect what you go to Africa usually think of animals like lions elephants giraffes but not sea turtles.

I went in with an open mind but I didn’t realize just how amazing an eye opening it would turn out to be.

The program itself takes place in an area called Sodwana Bay located on the east coast of South Africa.

I never heard of Sodwana Bay before this trip but it’s one of the top destination in the world for diving.

You can get your scuba certification there. Theys surfing, snorkeling, eco tours, where you can see well sharks and wild dolphins so it’s a great place to visit with a lot of things to do.

It’s run by a guy named Peter he’s so knowledgeable and passionate about ocean conservation and taught us all so much.

I didn’t know this before but sea turtles play a very important role in our ecosystem, they’re one of the few animals that eat and maintain the sea beds were a lot of other marine animals breed.

Without those sea beds a lot of the marine life that humans harvest for food could become endangered or extinct.

Right now sea turtles are endangered and their survival is critical to our survival.

One of our main duties was to monitor the beach at night and look for sea turtle nests.

When sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand the new hatchlings then have to make their way down to the ocean which might sound fairly simple but this process can be a long journey.

Sometimes if there’s not enough light they can go the wrong way and they’re also a huge risk and being eaten by predators like jackals and ghost crabs.

Because of all these obstacles they face most the turtles don’t end up surviving.

So in our nightly drives we’d spend a few hours patrolling the beach looking for sea turtle nests.

So as we’re headed to the project we decided to do a little detour and take a drive through private game reserve, it was just a quick little unexpected thing but we saw a lot of wild animals.

And we even saw two wild cheethas right up close next to the car, it’s really hard for me to express just what a big deal that was, because you’re probably thinking while you’ve been around cheetahs all the time that’s not a big deal, but there’s a big difference between seeing cheetahs in a rescue center and seeing them out in the wild.

We also got to see two wild cheetha which we were told by some locals that that never happens, so that was a real honor to see two wild cheetahs.

This is one of the reasons why do in sea turtle conservation in South Africa it’s completely different from doing it in other parts of the world. There are plenty of other places where you can do sea turtle conservation, but where else can you do – where you can see lions cheetahs elephants all the wild all in the same day.

For a South African this is through the roof you normally see this after three days driving.

Today another fun thing we did was geocaching which is kind of like an electronic treasure hunt you hide a small trinket somewhere tag it with the GPS location encourage others to find it. So future volunteers you have the challenge of finding the prize that we love for you at these coordinates.

The main focus of this program is conservation but we still got to do a lot of other fun things went to a local school and met the kids and we spent some time hanging out and playing with them.

Wwe went to lunch at another game reserve where we got to watch wild elephants and all these animals roam around as we’re eating our lunch.

Eeach night were there we went to our night drives patrolling the beach. We had a few nights we were just driving around and not seeing any sea turtle nests at all and I’ll be honest after a few nights of that driving around and not seeing anything we’re just wondering is this actually gonna happen are we gonna get to see the turtles. We were out doing other drive looking around trying to find the hatchlings trying to find the turtle nests and just as we’re about to give up hope that was when we saw something really special…

We found some turtle nests and we saw the hatchlings making their slow progress down in the ocean. We spent the greater part of the night just making sure that they got down to the ocean safely. We couldn’t physically touch them but we made sure to shine the light so they knew which way to go. Seeing them come out of the nests and then watching them go down to the ocean, it might seem like such a trivial thing, but it’s really moments like that where you realize just how beautiful life can be.

I think the work we’re doing here on this project is important because turtles are in such a vulnerable position right now.

By our presence being here we’re directly impacting these turtles lives. When the turtles are hatching we’re protecting them from crabs and honey badgers and all these different kinds of prey.

Being able to do a project where you’re a part of wildlife conservation is just wonderful.

Being in this program really got me thinking just about life in general because originally i wasn’t even supposed to go. The original plan was to leave a little earlier but if i had done that I never would have gotten this experience and I never will have learned all the things that I did.

I know that I’ve said all of this before but I think amazing things can happen when you decide to go after what you want and decided just make your dreams a reality.

I know we all have commitments like school work lack of money lack of time and I know that not everyone’s in a position where they can just decide they’re gonna go do something like this but my best piece of advice that I can give you is instead of always thinking I want to do this one day I want to do this eventually why not now! incredible things can happen when you just say yes to life.

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