Thursday, 22 December 2011

Feliz navidad!

Feliz navidad!

Just a quick update from the Akazul camp before Christmas....

The end of the year is fast approaching and "wow!" what a year it has been so far (and it's still not quite over yet)!
We recently organised our first ever sea turtle festival (Festivalito de las Tortugas Marinas) in La Barrona which was held over the 2nd and 3rd of December. A lot of hard work went into organising the event and as ever, I am super proud of our guys for all of their blood, sweat and tears that went into making it a success. There were various education talks, art activities, films and a football tournament involving La Barrona and some of the surrounding villages. The newly trained team Akazul played in the competition, with their shiny new football kits kindly donated by the Srodes' family and friends, and as luck would have it- they won! The kids playing on behalf of Akazul have been amazing and when it came to the presentation of the trophy they handed it over to the runners-up because they felt since receiving the new kits that they had already had enough!


Akazul football team



Presentation of the trophy

We are most grateful to the volunteers for all of their hard work, especially for helping make up all of the bracelets which were handed out to the kids at the festival.

The festival was a wonderful success and the community participation was outstanding. This will definitely be an annual event on the Akazul calender from now on.

We would like to say a fond farewell to Zander Srodes who has been with us on the project for the majority of the nesting season. He has been a real asset to the team and we cannot thank him enough for his contribution to the project. We wish him the best of luck for the future and hope to see him back in La Barrona soon.

And finally, we wish you all "Feliz Navidad!!!" and we will catch up with you all again in the new year.

Abrazos

Equipo Akazul x

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Akazul Tshirts for Sale!

Front

Back

Exciting news... official Akazul tshirts are now available for purchase! These stylish and chic tshirts have been produced by Exeter based social firm “Clothing Works” who offer vocational rehabilitation for individuals recovering from mental health issues and are part of the Devon Partnership NHS Trust Vocational Rehabilitation Service.

T-shirts are available in white, apple green and red in a range of male and female sizes at the bargain price of £10 (plus £2.50 postage and packaging).

This is a great way to show your support for Akazul and all profits will go directly to saving sea turtles in Guatemala.

Please email rachel@akazul.org to place your order.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Saludos amigos!







Greetings Akazulers!


Firstly, my apologies for the lack of updates from the Akazul desk over the last few months- it has been a busy time for all of us.

We have plenty of good news and updates to fill you in on...

We submitted and had our proposal accepted for developing a sea turtle education centre/exhibition inside the Akazul field station in La Barrona. The grant was kindly awarded to us by SWOT (State of the World's Sea Turtles) and work will begin over the next few months on creating the exhibition. Let's hope this is the first of many grants to help us continue developing new aspects of the project.


Another big piece of news- Scott was recently awarded a special award from CONAP (Guatemala's environment protection agency) for his outstanding contribution to sea turtle conservation in Guatemala over the last ten years! Such a great acheivement, we are all really proud of him! And fantastic that the government have recognised his hard work and dedication to sea turtle conservation over the last decade.


Scott getting the community fired up for saving turtles!


Another big project on the way is a community mural. Bob Compton generously donated to Akazul to enable us to paint a mural on the Akazul field station- this will definitely make the building a lot prettier and will also give the community a great piece of artwork in the centre of the village to keep them smiling! We hope to begin working on this project towards the end of the sea turtle season.


The nesting season so far has been extremely successful- the guys have been working exceptionally hard to keep the beach monitored day and night to find nesting turtles and collect egg donations from "parlameros". This is the first year that a tagging program has been carried out in La Barrona and more than 150 turtles have been successfully tagged with several returning to nest again this season. The official stats are: 12 have returned to La Barrona twice to nest, 6-8 have returned three times and we have also had a couple show up to nest further along the coast towards Hawaii and Monterrico. It is an exciting break through as olive ridleys appear to have a fairly wide range when it comes to nesting- showing little or no nest site fidelity. Information from tagging studies like these can really help us to understand more about the ecology and behaviour of these animals which will also aid conservation and management in the future.

Another Akazul tagged turtle returning to the sea.





Despite the difficult start to the season with the mass strandings, flooding, high seas and loss of our hatchery- the turtles have been nesting in force this year! The team have burried 13,250 eggs in the hatchery and have managed to acheive a 20% donation per nest from the local parlameros...as far as we know this is the first time in the history of Guatemala's sea turtle conservation! Amazing results, and I am incredibly proud of the guys who have made this much talked about dream become a reality! A big hats off to all the volunteers we have had working on the project this season, we couldn't have done this without you so thankyou!


Guatemala is presently being hammered by another tropical storm bringing with it heavy rainfall and sadly many villages have been affected by flooding and landslides. La Barrona has been underwater once again this year with some parts of the village being chest high in water. Fortunately the village is coping extremely well, however other areas have not been quite so fortunate. It is becoming an increasing worry how affected many Central American countries have been over the last few years with increasing rainfall and flooding. Food for thought...

On a lighter note, another new initiative has been launched... the Akazul football (or soccor if you are that way inclined!) team... Zander Srodes has been a big part of this and his mum Jean has helped provide the kit to the lads. The team are out there representing Akazul and also have been out in force on the beach looking for turtles. Such a great idea and has been a real boost to all involved.



Team Akazul



Ever and Zander rounding up the team

Finally, we'd like to make a special mention of an amazing new member to the Akazul team. Ever Ernesto Rizo Guardado is a local fisherman and former parlamero who first became interested in the project back in 2005 when the first Project Parlama volunteers came to la Barrona. He has been absolutely amazing over the last year, showing exceptional dedication and support to the project. It's not often folk will work for free, even rarer in a country with such a high rate of poverty- I think that it speaks for itself that Ever is our first local volunteer on the project. We feel so grateful to have the pleasure of working with him- once the funding is there he will be the first Akazul employee! Es seguro!





Ever- Akazul's first local volunteer




All the best from us here at Akazul, we will update again soon...
Hasta pronto amigos!

Friday, 22 July 2011

The turtle season is upon us!

Hey there fellow turtle huggers!

Hope that this finds you all well…

After some difficult months in Guatemala we are happy to be writing nothing but good news on this month’s blog post.

Inauguration meeting forthe start of turtle season

Finally the turtles are here!! La Barrona has been graced with up to 9 turtles a night over the last week and the guys are cleaning up. We have tagged the first ever turtles in La Barrona and found a few nests already. A cracking start to what we are sure will be an amazing turtle season!

The new hatchery site

After losing the original hatchery to the big waves, a new site has been secured and eggs are being buried in a new hatchery. The tradition in Guatemala is to hold a hatchery inauguration at the beginning of each turtle season- ours was held in La Barrona last week with a really good turn out of locals. There was something for everyone; games, prizes, piƱatas, food, some singing and by far the best part- local egg collectors have agreed to increase the number of eggs that they will donate per nest found! An amazing start!

La Barrona joining in with the turtle song

Our first UK volunteer Matt (far right on the photot) has come to the end of his stay in La Barrona- and we’d like to say a big thanks to him for all of his help over the last six weeks, and all the best with your final year at uni.

Equipo Akazul

We are still accepting volunteers for the 2010/2011 season- so for those of you that have some time and would like to help a good cause, please get in touch via the website.

Once again, thanks so much to everyone that has been supporting the project- it has been great to receive so much interest and kind words from people near and far. It makes all the difference.

We will write more news soon, so come back and visit us soon!

Saludos,

Equipo Akazul x

Saturday, 2 July 2011

More rainy season madness...stay dry!

Hi all,

Hope that this finds you well…

Well this week we have some new logs to go in the "what happened to us in our first year of Akazul" diary... rainy season is well and truely here and has treated the guys to a mini cyclone which ripped the roof off a gas station! Keep reading for the rest...

In Guatemala we are still suffering from high seas and waves relentlessly pounding the coast. Many more houses have been claimed by the sea and sadly many of the families that have been affected are close friends of the project. From our side our loss has been minimal, but unfortunately the hatchery has been taken down. We are now in the process of desperately seeking an area of beach (that doesn’t cost a fortune) to construct a new hatchery for the beginning of the season as turtles are already starting to come up and time is running short. Despite all of this, I have faith that we will get there I the end and it will be a cracking season.

The hatchery perched on a cliff about to fall

Once again, a massive thanks to the hard work of the volunteers- they have been working solidly over the last month and we couldn’t have done it without them.

Algunos locos de Akazul!

Some important news regarding the recent strandings of olive ridleys… results from the histological samples came back from Hawaii, US last week but perhaps weren’t quite what any of us in Guatemala had hoped for. It seems that there were no common pathological denominators which could be held accountable for causing the turtles to strand. Results suggest that they quite simply starved to death. However, we will continue investigating this further- even if starvation was the cause there are still unanswered questions like how and why?

On a completely different note, we are in the process of building a new area to the website which will give supporters the opportunity to become members of Akazul and we will be selling beautiful Akazul tshirts...watch this space as we will let you know as soon as that part of the site is launched.

In the mean time as a wise man once said...."Stay dry"! and we wish you the best,

Akazul team

Friday, 10 June 2011

High seas and flooding

Saludos,

Unfortunately ill fortune has fallen on Guatemala's coast again... after a mad month of stranded sea turtles, the ocean has been unleashed full force on La Barrona- home of Akazul's project. Due to some heavy action way out in the Pacific ocean, a large south-westerly swell has been pushed towards Central America. Due to the relatively beach topography, geographical location of La Barrona (SW facing), and the large swell period- waves are battering the village head on.

Community members trying to buffer the waves with sand bags

For the last week Akazul staff and volunteers have been working round the clock to help local community members to protect their homes. Very sadly, one of La Barrona's kindest and humble inhabitants- Don Roberto (a true legend), has been the worst affected. Him and his family have lost part of their house to the sea and have had to abandon it, leaving them homeless. Our deepest sympathies go out to him and his family. We will do everything we can to help him during this time.

View up La Barrona beach

Fingers crossed that the swell drops off soon...

To end on a positive note, Akazul are pleased to welcome our first volunteers of the season. Jess (Oz) and Zander (USA) have arrived in not the most ideal of situations but have got really stuck in by helping the community and we are really pleased to have them working with us. We are looking forward to things calming down and, fingers crossed, to a fantastic turtle season!


Best wishes from the Akazul team

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Latest Strandings news

Hello all,

Just thought we'd give you an update on the latest regarding the sea turtle strandings and other news from Akazul.

Sadly, despite the super trooper efforts of the individuals involved in rescuing and tending to the sick sea turtles- the last remaining survivors died on Saturday 21st May. Tissue samples were taken during necropsies from several turtles and have been sent for analysis in Hawaii. Thanks to Arcas for arranging the permits.

It has been an amazing effort by those involved during this crisis and writing from my desk in the UK I feel that several people deserve a special mention. Firstly, my fellow Akazul team mates Scott and Sarah have really been exceptional in responding to this incident and have, I feel, done Akazul proud in showing the rest of the world who we are and what we do.

Sarah tending to one of the turtles


Alice Lee has been a rock during all of this and has selflessly been there in the thick of things making such a massive contribution to sea turtle conservation.

Alice feeding one of the strandings

Akazul's efforts have been in collaboration with Protortugas who instigated and joined us during at sea monitoring, provided materials and veterinary assistance throughout this time.

Scott and Protortugas

Thanks also to Arcas for letting us use their facilities in Parque Hawaii to tend to sick turtles.

There are also many individuals around the world, and also in the local communities near Parque Hawaii, who responded to our call for help and expertise, many thanks to all these people.

It seems for the time being that the strandings have ceased and now we are really just waiting for analysis from the tissue samples to find out what is responsible for causing this huge impact on the olive ridley population. We will let you know as soon as we have news on this.

From barnacle experts to Guatemalan Breakfast TV viewers- lots of positive response has come from what was a bad situation, and we will focus on these positives to push forwards our work. Please check again for the latest.

Saludos!

Akazul

Please follow the link to see the article published by Wildlife Extra

Friday, 13 May 2011

Mass Stranding of Olive Ridleys Guatemala May 2011

Dear friends,

I am writing with sad and distressing news today from Guatemala. We are right in the middle of a mass Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) stranding event. Last Sunday (1st of May) we had 4 stranded olive ridleys wash up on the Pacific coast in the department of Santa Rosa. Then four days later we had a further 12 strandings (6 alive & 6 dead) in the same part of the coast.

Scott (Akazul) with stranded L.olivacea

All live turtles have been in a state of debilitation- epibiota (algae and barnacles) on the body, flippers and plastron indicating prolonged periods of floating at sea, emaciation (concave plastrons & no fat), and dehydration (sunken eyes etc). Those that have been necropsied have had enlarged livers, cachexia (body wasting) and emphysema in the lungs.

Mariachi at sea with a female L.olivacea

Several trips out to sea have been made to look for more sick turtles and on Tuesday 10th May 2 more sick females were brought in. Then on the 11th May on another trip 12 more were found, 6 of which have been brought in for treatment.

Jaime Perez (Protortugas) at sea looking for sick turtles

Our total so far is 30 turtles (a mixture of both males and females) and there are countless more still yet to be found out at sea.

Collecting debilitated turtles at sea

We have been working in conjunction with our friends Protortugas, experienced veterinarians from Guatemala City, attempting to rehabilitate the live strandings and necropsy and run tests on those that pass.

The cause of these strandings remains a mystery and we won’t know too much until samples are analysed. All we know at the moment is that this disease or illness is only affecting one species of turtle- Lepidochelys olivacea and this is coinciding with the time that these turtles are migrating back to their coastal breeding grounds. It seems that this may be a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection which will be difficult to detect without the analysis of samples.

Alice & Sarah (Akazul) assessing the new arrivals

For any of those out there who may be able to help with this investigation, please do get in touch via admin@akazul.org

Kind regards,

The team at Akazul