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Turtle Patrol and Beach Cleaning

You may not see much pollution when you look at the photos I took during some beach family photos, but the reality is that there are so many trash along the coast, and sewer water poring into the ocean. These are very problematic for some endangered sea turtle here in Gabon.

The coast along the Libreville is a natural habitat for four species of sea turtles : leatherbacks, green turtles, olive ridleys and hawksbills. The number of these turtles are declining, and some group of people are actively working to protect the sea turtle. Volunteers walk along the coast every morning, and look for nests or trapped turtles. One of my awesome friend is a volunteer in the conservation group, and I could join her for the turtle patrol this morning.

They divide the coast line into 7 zones, and each volunteers walk on the beach assigned zone, and look for nests, eggs, baby turtles which are lost and couldn't reach to the ocean by themselves, and adult turtles sometimes trapped in the trash, or sewage. After morning walk, they report each other for all the turtle activities. We are right in the season of nesting, and hatching, so these volunteers work are extra important.

We walked 3 zones this morning, and looked for any sign of sea turtles. We kept eye on the high tide line where turtle usually make nest and lay eggs. We could not find baby turtles or mommy turtles, but we found about 5 nests that the eggs were exposed and left only shells... There are lots of predators on the beach for turtles. It could be crabs, and it could be human.

As toward to the end of patrol, my friend contacted to other volunteers who are patrolling other zone, to see if they found something, and one of the volunteer found baby turtles lost, and couldn't find ocean. We decided to walk a little more to see those baby turtles.

When we get to the point to meet the volunteer, she had already collected all the babies in a bucket with some sand inside. The baby turtles are so energetic and innocent. We were all excited to see those baby turtles especially after we could only found destroyed eggs.

Then it was time to say good bye to those babies, and released to the ocean. I thought we were going to put the baby turtles right into the ocean, but the volunteers put babies on the ground, and let them walk and figure out the way to the ocean by themselves. Some are strong and fast, some are not, but they all move at their best. It was sentimental and powerful moment. I couldn't help myself wishing them a good luck for their long journey awaiting.

My friend taught me that the artificial rocks along the beach for better scenery, and make it look fancier are actually not good for turtles to make nest and lay eggs. Humans do it on purpose to avoid the turtles for doing so. I wouldn't know about that if I didn't join this volunteer activity, and would just accept "nice" beach, but it's nice only for human...

Also to help turtles for successful nestling, clean beach is necessary. After the turtle patrol, the volunteers gathered up, and cleaned the beach. There were so many plastic bottles, chemicals, broken sandals, car oil bottles, piled up on the beach. It was so unhealthy and dangerous. It seemed like a work which never end... After our beach cleaning, the area looked better than before, but I felt we need more manpower to sustain.

Nature stay beautiful as long as we human don't destroy it. Those good hearted volunteers activities help protecting beautiful things on the earth. I also decided to start doing something I can do to help.

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