Saturday, 4 February 2012

First news from 2012!!!

Hello there Akazulers!

A slight delay in updating the blog last month, so to make up for it we have a bumper post with lots of great news from Guatemala...

In January, strong offshore winds blew from the mountains, making it busier than expected, with a decent number of females still coming up to lay their nests in La Barrona. However, as we enter February the season starting to wind down now giving everyone a well deserved rest from patrolling. Once the last nest hatches we will post a short summary of the 2011 nesting season.

Life guard training
Towards the end of December we were lucky to have Trent Hodges (Peace Corps volunteer) visit La Barrona and hold a lifeguard training day for community members. There are a number of drownings that occur on the Pacific coast of Guatemala each year which are often a case of holiday makers being caught out by strong surf and rip tides, but could be avoided if local communities were properly equipped with life saving equipment and training. Trent has spent the last year working with a dedicated group of guys from the Hawaii/Las Mananitas area getting them fully trained in rescue and resuscitation techniques- this training alone will reduce the number of fatal drowning incidences. It was a really productive day and great to have Trent’s group of guys pass on their knowledge and help train the new lifeguards of La Barrona. Since receiving the training, La Barrona’s team of volunteer lifeguards have already saved two near drownings and to support this important service we would really like to better equip the guys at least with a pair of swim fins each - if anyone is able to help by donating any new or used gear please contact

Trent (back centre) with the La Barrona lifeguards

SWOT sea turtle education centre
Some of you might remember that a few months ago we were awarded a small grant from SWOT to help develop a sea turtle education centre at the Akazul field station. Preparations are well under way and the centre should be nearing completion by next month. Not only will the finished product be extremely instrumental in helping Akazul deliver its education program to local communities, as well as informing visitors of the importance of marine conservation, but the construction itself has got community members further involved with the project. During their weekly environmental education classes, the boys from the Akazul football team have helped build the sea turtle models for the display and have produced art work for the exhibition. I can honestly say that we are all incredibly excited and are very much anticipating the finished product, it really will make the building a special place for the community where they can continue learning about marine life.

Making the sea turtle models
Sarah, Izzy & Grace with the finished models
Value of volunteering
We recently had Mike and Kate, who are creating a really fantastic documentary about volunteering opportunities in Central America, come stay with us in La Barrona. The documentary is being made in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, UK and will be an important resource for young people wishing to embark on volunteering projects abroad. The guys are travelling to various projects throughout Central America and documenting their experiences along the way. It was a real pleasure to have them here on the project, it was a great experience for all involved and is definitely worth following their adventures...

We wish them the best of luck on the rest of their journey!

Shark and ray research
Although a large part of our work centres around the conservation of sea turtles, Akazul’s overall aim is to help preserve the natural resources of Guatemala’s marine and coastal environments through community based activities. Information on Guatemala’s sharks and rays is virtually none existent so last year we undertook some preliminary field work to further knowledge of shark and ray species present in Guatemala’s Pacific waters. We have been able to continue investigating this year, Sarah and myself spent a week in Puerto San Jose interviewing fishermen and collecting data- we cannot thank the fishermen in Puerto and La Barrona enough, they have been extremely helpful in answering our endless questions and we look forward to working with them some more in the near future. Watch this space for future developments...

Measuring a Pacific cownose ray at Buena Vista
That is the latest news from Guate. - things have already gotten off to a good start this year, so let's make 2012 an Akazul year!

Akazul x