Monday, August 31, 2009

Olive Ridleys in Guatemala

Last week I returned from my second volunteer trip, this time to Guatemala where I helped with Olive Ridley conservation. Unfortunately in Guatemala it is legal to poach turtle eggs therefore the beaches are COMPLETELY filled with hundreds of poachers, some even on motorbikes and ATV's. I travelled with the NGO ARCAS who has two wildlife centers in Guatemala, one in Peten where they help rehabilitate animals caught being smuggled through the pet trade and one in the town of Hawaii (where I was). In Hawaii we patrolled the beaches everynight in hopes of finding our own turtle. Its like a race, whoever gets to the turtle first (volunteers or poachers) gets to keep the nest. Fortunately it is law that the poachers must give an egg donation of 20% of the nest however they only give twelve eggs out of approximate hundred. Once you get a nest or donation you can go back to the volunteer area where there is a hatchery and we bury the eggs. Out of the week I was there I got to see two nesting females (unfortunately the poacher was there before me) however we received our donation and re-buried the eggs. In about 50 days those babies should be hatching!! Fortunately I was able to release some babies that were buried 50 days ago. It was my first time seeing baby hatchlings so it was an awsome experience for me. They were so cute and ultra tiny!! It was nice to see them going to the sea however they must now make it past sharks, birds, pollution, plastic and fishing nets before becoming an adult. Again, just like the leatherbacks, only 1 out of 1000 will make it to adulthood. Lets hope when these babies come back to nest poaching will be illegal in Guatemala!!

For more info on the volunteer group ARCAS please visit:


Leatherbacks In Panama!!!!!!!!

In May of 2009 I had the experience of a lifetime! I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Endangered Wildlife Trust on Playa Soropta in Panama! Even though it was physically the hardest experience of my life it was definitely one that I will NEVER forget. Everynight for one week I hiked 12km with Luis and/or Armodio, two young Panamanian citizens who were hired to patrol the beach of Playa Soropta. Just a couple years before this beach would have been littered with the carcasses of numerous female leatherback turtles who had come ashore to nest. Unfortunately there were many human poachers awaiting her arrival. Even before she could begin to lay, they would slice her neck with a machete, cut her belly open to remove her eggs and hack off her flippers for human consumption. Thankfully The Endangered Wildlife Trust came to the leatherbacks rescue and built a volunteer dormitory and center on the beach. Now since 2001, volunteers can live with an on site biologist, 6 local young men and a cook to help conserve these beautiful species. Thankfully since 2001 not one turtle has been killed on this stretch of beach, however poachers still do lurk hoping to steal the eggs. That is why patrolling the beach is so important. By volunteers and the boys walking the beach for four hours everynight we literally keep the poachers away and the beautiful Leatherbacks can nest and return to the ocean safely. The Endangered Wildlife Trust is one of my favourite charities because I have been able to see first hand how they are helping to save these beautiful creatures from extinction!!

For more info and support please visit:



Cayman Island Humane Society

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Cayman Island Humane Society today and I must say I was very impressed! The staff was extremely friendly and the animals were very well cared for. I was so happy to hear that they are a no kill shelter who will care for the animals for as long as it takes for them to find a forever home. Unfortunately there were a few dogs who had been there for over a year however it was nice to see how happy they were and were at no risk of being killed. I graciously brought collars and leashes for the animals. I wish every shelter abroad was this well established and cared for their animals as much as the Cayman Island Humane Society. To find out more about the Cayman Island Humane Society please visit:

Diving With Turtles!

I dont think there is anything more peaceful in this world then swimming with sea turtles. While diviing in the Cayman Islands I had numerous opportunities to view and swim alongside both hawksbill and green sea turtles. I think they are some of the most gorgeous and unfortunately most endangered animals on the planet. They face so many obstacles in the ocean such as ingesting plastic garbage, getting stuck in fishing net and struck by boats just to name a few. When the females reach shore to lay their eggs it becomes even worse. If their eggs aren’t stolen from poachers than they may be killed for their meat or shell by humans. If they do make it back to the ocean unharmed they then face hungry bull sharks and more pollution along the way. It is definitely an uphill battle trying to save and protect these gorgeous creatures but I will dedicate what I can both physically and monetary to help and do my part!

For more information on Sea Turtle conservation please visit: