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Gimme some fin. Noggin'. Duuuude.

Posted on 30 April 2015

The last hurrah before home.
At last, back in the city that I call home. The extreme hustle and bustle is causing me severe anxiety though - reverse culture shock (as per my friend's diagnosis). I've always been a city girl at heart, but for some reason Toronto does not feel the same as it did when I left. In other words, I am missing my other home. Not only was my work at WWF both challenging and rewarding, I've made life-long friendships with the locals and ex-pats. I didn't cry during the last scene of the Notebook, yet I balled like a baby as my plane took flight. Anyhow, trying not to focus on this yearning to get back to Gizo, I will reminisce by writing about my last two weeks. Quite the whirl wind, I must say!
As part of my internship, I was able to go on a Look and Learn trip to the Arnavons Community Marine Conservation Area (ACMCA), aka turtle haven -  hence, the title. The ACMCA is the South Pacific's longest-running species monitoring program. It was a collaborative effort between three distinct communities, and initially managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Myself and my co-worker Salome Topo participated in turtle tagging, egg relocation, and hatching. Take a look at the short video I made with some footage and photos from this trip.

Arnavons video blog from WWF Volunteers on Vimeo.

Some interesting things to note from the video:

  • Yes, turtle rodeo-ing is a thing.
  • The turtle being tagged is a Green turtle.
  • The turtle on its back is a Hawksbill turtle (and was a re-capture/already tagged).
  • Turtles are flipped on their backs to prevent them from going back into the water before being tagged and/or measured. It looks bad (I know), but it doesn't hurt them.
  • Eggs are kept in their original position (i.e. not rotated) during relocation. Notice how these two burly ranger dudes are transferring them oh so delicately. The ranger on the left marks each egg before he removes it from the nest so they know which side should be facing up.
  • The hatchlings going out to sea are Hawksbill turtles. Highlight of the trip, hands down.

Following this trip I had a few days left before departing. Instead of packing I spent my time with friends on islands, beaches, and every other place besides my messy, unpacked room. Check out another short video I made with cool underwater photos and footage from around Gizo. Finally I can say that I have swam very intimately with sharks.  

Gizo, Solomon Islands from WWF Volunteers on Vimeo.

I had become quite close with a local woman (ex-WWF employee), who gave me a book of poetry as a goodbye gift. She had written and published this collection of poems in 2007. Inside the front cover she wrote:
"For the idyllic days of endless surf & moonlit nites,
Cool ocean breezes & swaying palm trees
White, sandy beaches & azure seas.
Sweet jasmine scents, delicious mangoes outside the Surf Shak,
Ever be reminded of Gizo."
Oh, how I miss that surf shack - positioned amidst the nice ocean breezes, full of roughed up surf boards, and surrounded by fallen mangoes from the branches above. Not to mention it having a monochromatic landscape for the better part of the year. I am strongly considering taking my boss up on his offer of a full time contract starting in July. 

Rachel Wang 

WWF-Solomon Islands
October 2014 - April 2015

Hatching Hawksbill turtles in the Arnavons Community Marine Conservation Area (ACMCA)
© WWF / Rachel Wang