We currently have two marine biologists staying with us at Lissenung. Daniel Godoy is from New Zealand and is the only turtle researcher over there, so it was great to have him here. Ian is also from New Zealand, but is currently completing his PhD in marine biology at James Cook University in Townsville. He researches the impacts of climate change on the connectivity of reef fish populations in PNG. Both are partly sponsored by Lissenung Island Resort in that they are being charged a nominal amount for accommodation, meals and diving. 

Dan offered to hold a presentation about turtles at the Enuk Community School on 10 August. Turtles are declining drastically in numbers, and PNG is one of only a few places in the Pacific that still has a reasonable population of these critically endangered species. However, Papua New Guineans eat both the turtle and her eggs, commercial fishing is substantial and rubbish often gets thrown in the ocean. Time to educate the kids so hopefully, their generation will look after turtles more!!
The kids were very interested and listened intently. Dan did a great job, keeping the talk in easy-to-understand English as the kids only learn English in grade 5. Lots of questions were asked and answered, and we even had a turtle drawing competition, with the first three winners getting a small prize.
Daniel explaining about turtles to the kids at Enuk
Community School

Lythia, the teacher, as well as 6 student teachers from the Port Moresby Teachers College, who are on their practical at Enuk, were also engrossed in the subject. Lythia wrote down a lot of points on the blackboard so they could discuss more later. 
Next week, we'll have the kids over at Lissenung for a snorkelling session, should be great fun! 

Building a human leatherback turtle so the kids get
an idea about just how big they are
The next morning, Dan, Ian and I went to Ral Island for a snorkel session, and also to check out something that Silas had talked about the day before. Apparently, when he had taken Ian and Dan to Ral the previous time, he saw some locals collect what appeared to be turtle eggs. This had happened a few days ago, but we still thought it'd be worth checking out. 

As we were getting closer to Ral Island, we could see a banana boat and some local people on the beach. Ian joked "Haha, they are probably taking eggs now!". Unfortunately, he was right, the people had collected approx. 100 eggs from a fresh nest. Bugger, we were about 10 - 15 minutes too late to rescue these eggs!!! 

Local turtle egg collectors at Ral Island. They say they
just stopped for a break on their way home to their island
and saw the turtle tracks on the beach. The tracks led
them straight to the nest. They will eat the eggs and/or
sell them for 20 toea (approx. A$/US$ 0.09)  
Tracks of a Green Turtle at Ral Island. You can just see
Ian's toes at the bottom of the pic, so you get an idea of 
how big the tracks are. 

We talked to them for a while, explaining how bad it is to eat all the turtle eggs as only one out of 100 - 300 eggs (depending on species) will actually survive long enough to produce eggs herself. I wanted to take all of the eggs of them as I know Ral Island's traditional resource owners, and these people were not them, which means I had as much right to the eggs as these people did. But since they found the eggs before we even got there, Dan was more diplomatic than I and asked for 30 eggs only. 

Negotiations with the locals about how many eggs we
can take from their collection so we may rescue them.
The plan is to "nest" them again at Lissenung. After a
while, we are allowed to take 31 out of approx. 100 eggs.

Nope, not ping pong ball, but eggs of a Green Turtle.
The shell is very soft and can have some dents in it.
After approx. 55 days (normally between 50 - 70 days,
but probably sooner here due to warmer climate), the
baby turtles will hatch.

Me digging a new nest on Lissenung Island

Carefully picking the eggs out of the esky and placing
them into the new nest. The turtle embryo attaches to the
side of the shell. This is the embryo's "placenta", it's how
 the  CO2 goes out and O2 gets back in. Remember, turtles
need oxygen to live, you often see them at the surface.  

 If the egg is turned, the embryo may become detached
from the  shell, and with that, the air supply to the 
embryo is interrupted. It's a bit like your reg coming
 loose from your dive tank....

One by one, the eggs are placed into their new nest,
under the watchful eye of Chivas

"Mum, are you doing that properly??"
31 turtle eggs in their new nest

"Awesome, 31 more turtles to swim
with from my beach!!"

Last week, our friends Dan & Sian went to Enuk Island, kitted out with an old sheet, some paint and paint brushes and their creative caps firmly on their heads. The plan was to make a sign to say Thank-you to the school that had donated the chairs and desks, Cairns West High. Here are some happy snaps: 

The kids are taking this very serious, and are very
careful in drawing and painting. 

Every kid places his or her hand print on the sheet.
Luckily, it was water-based paint!!

Me, too! Me, too! I want to put my hand print on, too! 

Thank you Cairns West High!

What a work of art! Well done, Enuk kids, and thank you,
Cairns West High!