Volunteer stories: Julia’s two weeks

Worth an experience? YES!

Did I wanna leave? NO!

Will I miss this place? DEFINITELY!

When I first got here two weeks ago, I didn’t think leaving this island would make me a bit sad…. I fell in love with this peaceful island, the friendly people here like Tanja, Lory, Et and Lory’s guests. Not to forget, the Naucrates Team!!!! Once I got used to early mornings, cold bucket showers, mosquitos whenever it gets a little late and no electricity/ air-condition, I could call this a place to stay for longer. Maybe not forever… The spicy food, ants haunting me day and night and  midday-sun are not really my favorite, but still, two weeks passed by so fast and I honestly don’t want to leave right now.

Nevertheless, the reason why I decided to go here is not the island nor the people, it was the project – SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION and anything that goes along with it: Beach walks, AM as well as the sweaty PM observation, reef check, weather data, raising awareness with turtle talks and the museum located in Lion’s village. With all these data to acquire, tasks to do and monitoring, I never got bored, actually, I’ve really enjoyed the free time – just relaxing in the hammock, reading my book or simply enjoying the sound of nature. Working in paradise…

All in all, these two weeks were definitely worth the experience. Now I know what life is like on a remote island, as well as how research projects like this work: Everything takes time and will get sorted out at some point – “It’ll all works out somehow.” Sure, I know that one can’t influence such projects, especially not wild life, nevertheless, it would have been soo awesome seeing a turtle’s nest hatch or just seeing a turtle up close… closer that through binoculars when doing observation. It is really sad to know how turtle population sizes/ nests are decreasing over time.

The things I will keep in mind during my further travel are the information I’ve acquired about turtles, their populations, species behaviors, statistics about turtles here and elsewhere and how to support them, or at least not to harm them. Although I was environmentally aware and conscious on recycling, the two beach cleans have opened my eyes even more and made me realize that this issue of water pollution and ecological footprints is more serious that I’ve expected it to be. These tons of Styrofoam that get washed onto the beaches every day, shocked whenever going for the beach walk, passing these huge amounts of garbage.  I will try to produce as little waste as possible during my travel, although that is going to be very hard, especially since the countries in Southeast Asia don’t really care thaaaat much in comparison to Germany for instance. The Naucrates project has enhanced my interest to join another project (probably in Australia) and keep on doing a little bit to make our planet healthier and get people engaged, and change their minds to join the movement.

I wish Naucrates and the team all the best for the future and may the future bring more turtles back to Koh Phra Tong, so that this project can remain here. For Susanna and Anik I hope they keep up with their mission to conserve wild life on our planet, in the oceans as well as on land. Let all of us inspire the people surrounding us to join and help reducing climate change. 🙂

 

 

Thanks for all, the everlasting memories here with Naucrates at NOK’s.

Julia 🙂

Volunteer stories: Julia’s first day

As volunteers, we assist the staff members in recording data, completing their surveys and wherever we can help. For instance, on my first day, Anik scheduled Susanna and me to do the beach walk –  monitor 5km of the beach (to note, its 10km including the walk back…) to check if any turtle tracks have appeared, recording some data about fishing activities or other human activities, starting at 6:30 in the morning. Although it was a pretty nice, chill and long walk, my feet didn’t do well afterwards and I got some really huge blisters. 🙁

(They healed within a week though, so I wasn’t able to do the walk again so far.) Nevertheless, there is no other way to get around on the island than walking. (Side note: my average distance count is 7km without the beach walk.)

Back to my first day… after that Nok’s wife Lamion (where we stay), made us some really good French toast and fruit for breakfast! Still my highlight of the day. 🙂 For lunch, we had to cross a creek to get to Lory’s, which is basically an eco-friendly resort on this island and a 30 min walk from Nok’s. Unfortunately, it was high tide, meaning the water was up to my chest/neck. Looking foolish with bags on our heads, we crossed the creek safely.By then it was shortly afternoon, so Anik decided to show me the village, where some locals live and Naucrates’ museum is located.

Sometimes we had to get off the sidecar because we were too heavy for the motorbike to make it through the sandy paths (not even roads, to be honest…). By the time we arrived and Susanna showed me around, it was starting to become dark so Anik took us back to Lory’s and we had to walk the rest back to Nok’s, which by this time it had started to rain. If I’d had to describe it with one word: Soaked. Tons of water was coming down at us, so by the time we arrived we were badly soaked.

Yeah, so that was pretty much my first day on the remote island. Lots of “first times” and premiers, but on the whole, it was a very interesting and exciting first day. After dinner, my bed was awaiting me. The fresh breeze let me fall asleep within seconds. Therefore: GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer stories: Julia’s arrival

Hi,

I’m Julia, 18 years old, from Germany and just finished High School. I joined the Naucrates project for two weeks (1.2-15.2.2018) and hope to get a glimpse of what a conservation project looks like since I haven’t participated in any other before. The only kind of experience I’ve had previously, that seems relevant for this project, was back in high school my so-called subject “Environmental Systems &Societies”, but also some previous diving and snorkeling. I have never been to Thailand before, so let’s see what expects me here.

For my arrival at Naucrates, I chose to take a taxi from Phuket airport to Khuraburi, just because I wanted to arrive safely and had no clue how to travel all by myself. This is actually my first journey alone. So, after the 3,5h drive some boat picked me up and we headed towards the thousands of islands. At the latest by now, I figured that this is not a touristy place at all. Somewhere in between those islands, I got dropped off and another local Thai gave me a ride into the savanna. No roads, no signs, just sand and some dried plants surrounding us. My first experiences of a remote island. All of the sudden, I saw some house-like construction: NOK’s.

There, I was welcomed by three very kind and open people: Anik (Canadian), the current Team leader; Susanna (Finnish), the research assistant and the intern Timo (Finnish). Timo quickly showed me around…. I figured, there is not much comfort as I was used to back home. “At least the toilet flush works”, I thought. Everything was really basic, but enough to feel comfortable and to manage two weeks here.

This is basically where I will be staying for
the next two weeks; barely reception, not working Wi-Fi and no “indoors” as I used to know them back in Germany. Nevertheless, I am already enjoying the nature, its sound and air, not denying the fact that it is extremely lonely and quiet out here, to which I will have to get used to.

Give a gift that matters

Holiday season is approaching and many are giving presents to their loved ones. By donating to Naucrates work on sea turtle conservation, you help us to protect nature and preserve the wildlife for the future generations to enjoy also.

Donating to our cause is easy. Just go to our How to help -page and follow the instructions. You can donate with paypal or bank wire. We are happy to send you a certificate of the donation that you can print and wrap or send by email.

Our conservation work depends on the volunteer contributions and donations, so your gift has a immediate impact to the work we do.  The season starts on the 15th of December. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram  to see how the season progresses and what kind of impact your donation has on our conservation efforts.

Coral reef monitoring

In season 2016-2017 we conducted a reef survey on the nearby reef. This reef is located between Koh Phra Thong and two smaller islands called Koh Pring Jai and Noi, on the west side of Phra Thong. The location is reachable by swimming and kayaks depending on the tide.

In the survey we recorded fish species, invertebrate species and substrate coverage and compared our result to surveys done previous years (2004, 2006 and 2011). The aim was to see how the reef has recovered from the tsunami in 2004 which caused damage to the reef and island.

The surveys were done by snorkeling on the reef. This was a bit more challenging than expected. Weather conditions were sometimes too rough to be able to kayak to the reef or there was strong current which prevented laying the measuring tape on the bottom. Also the methodology is quite demanding and tiring. There was a lot of diving down to the bottom along the 100 meters of transect.

However, with the help of our volunteers, we were able to survey 5 transects on the reef. The results of the survey show that the hard coral coverage has increased and the amount of fish has increased since the 2006 survey.

The reef is still recovering from the effects of the tsunami but lots of fishes can be spotted on the reef and nice corals are seen in the deeper water. Beautiful nudibranchs can be found at the bottom, colorful butterfly fish are swimming among the corals and schools of snappers are swimming over the reef.

Two times after transect surveying a green turtle was spotted swimming along the reef which was amazing to see! It was a quick glimpse of the turtle but still nice to see them under the water. The reef at Koh Phra Thong is naturally quite rocky but the deeper parts of the reef gives a nice look to the beautiful ecosystem of coral reef and we hope to see it there in the future and hopefully in even better condition.

Susanna

Research Assistant, season 2016-2017

Back on Koh Phra Thong

beach1I came first time to this island 10 years ago as a 2-week volunteer. I had one previous volunteer experience from Costa-Rica and I always remember my Wow! -feeling when I was introduced to the project location, accommodation and especially breakfast choices at GBB resort.

We had fairly large group of 10 or so volunteers from different parts of the world, of different ages and different experiences, teachers, limo driver, scientist, students, biologists, IT specialists etc. Many had come without any previous turtle experience, so on that respect we were all novices.

Project work was well organized. Okay we did wait for the boat to check Koh Ra beaches with Alessandra two mornings and ended up eating our breakfast while we waited and waited and no boat. Oh, and the observation buoys. They would just not stay put. But it did not matter so much, some things you just can’t control.

OR babyOn this first season, I monitored the beach with another volunteer one morning and we found an Olive Ridley nest on beach 3. We almost missed it, while talking. Yes, keep your eye on the sand while you check the beach as the track is only about 50-100cm wide. We got first-hand experience in locating the egg chamber and carrying delicate eggs to a new nest location in a safer place.

But the project was not just that, it was so much more for me. It changed my life. It was a very important step on the path that I took from there. I returned to the project as a volunteer next season, now 3 other project experiences in my pocket. I quit my job and started to work on recruiting other volunteers to sea turtle conservation projects. Came back to work as a field leader on the Island for several seasons until 2013. I cried when I left Koh Phra Thong as I thought it was the last time.

maxiThis past season was the 20th anniversary of the project and Monica asked some of us “oldies” if we would help. And without much hesitation I said yes. On the 5th of December 2016, I went back. I was a bit scared that things have changed a lot and I don’t like the place anymore, but luckily it was not the case. Yes, there are more bungalow places on the beach now, but they are in a small area. Still no sun umbrellas and plastic sunbeds anywhere. I walked the beaches in the morning and there was nobody there. Only for a short moment during the New Year, Thai tourists showed up with quadbikes and motor dinghies. But they seemed to be more for the show than actual use.

There were some small improvements to the infrastructure, more solar power and wifi as well as addition to the pier at Lions village. But then there were still the holes in the concrete road, wading through the channels when the tide is high, “no sun, no wifi” at Nok’s, monkeys who stole the observation pillows, and waiting for the boat or the car. There were still the amazing Lesser Adjutants levitating in the sky, turtles coming to feed at observation rocks, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, incredible food cooked by Lamion, PaNee and Lory’s kitchen staff. There are still the wildlife surprises and great encounters with similar minded people.

I was happy to be back. And this time when I left a month later, I did not cry. I was sad to leave, but I know I will be back. Soon.

Marjut