Swamps, Swampers & Marshmallows – two scientific nights in Turtle Harbor

•September 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We have to tell you about the best two days of our stay at the Iguana Station. It was incredible!

Last Thursday we – that means Jacob, Linda, Andrea and Steve – started our trip to Turtle Harbor. At 6:00am we loaded a boat with tents, equipment for the population studies, and a lot of food.  The boat trip was a perfect start to the day: a calm sea, wonderful landscape, and a gentle sunshine.

Continue reading ‘Swamps, Swampers & Marshmallows – two scientific nights in Turtle Harbor’

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Syrian Blood Oil

•August 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

To all our fans and supporters, past present and future volunteers please read and act as you see fit,
this was sent to us by the good people at avaaz.org

http://www.avaaz.org

Dear friends,

Syria’s bloody crackdown is fueled by oil revenue from Europe. EU-wide oil sanctions would cripple Syria’s ability to continue the killing. Click here to demand EU leaders impose immediate oil sanctions:

Sign the petition
For months, Syria’s brutal President Assad has paid henchmen to wage war on his own people. Governments across the world have condemned these atrocities, but key European leaders could cut off the cash flow that finances this bloodbath.

Germany, France and Italy are the three main importers of Syrian oil. If they move to impose immediate EU sanctions, Assad’s slaughter funds will dry up. Assad has ignored political appeals for him to rein in his assault, and EU leaders have discussed ramping up sanctions, but only a massive global outcry will push them to act urgently.

We have no time to lose — every day dozens of Syrians are shot, tortured or disappeared simply for calling for basic democratic rights. The EU can stop funding the crackdown now. Click below to sign the petition to EU heads of state to immediately adopt oil sanctions on Syria:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_blood_for_oil/?vl

We have all watched and read about the horrific violence in Syria — much of the coverage coming from Avaaz-supported citizen journalists who are risking their lives to report on Assad’s crackdown. And now we have a chance to turn our horror into action. Experts say EU oil sanctions will seriously disrupt cash flow to Assad’s cruel army without significant negative consequences to either the European economy or the Syrian people.

Almost all Syria’s exported oil is purchased and refined by Germany, France and Italy, but these governments have yet to use their key trade relationship with Assad as leverage to protect the Syrian people. Still, they have denounced the violence, and newspapers report that some EU leaders are already pushing for oil sanctions. Let’s demand that they ramp up the pressure and push through oil sanctions immediately and cut the engine of Assad’s murderous regime.

Join in the call to cut off the cash to Syrian forces now. Click below to sign the petition for EU oil sanctions and forward to everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_blood_for_oil/?vl

Avaaz members have played a crucial role in supporting Syrians in their demands for freedom, democracy and human rights. Much of the footage and information shown around the world is funded by small donations from Avaaz members worldwide. Let’s build the momentum for lasting change as the violence against the Syrian people escalates and insist the EU take immediate action now.

With hope,

Stephanie, Pascal, Morgan, Alice, Ricken, Wissam and the rest of the Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION

Syria Forces Extend Siege on Hama as Toll Rises, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/middleeast/07syria.html

EU to tighten Syria sanctions, European Voice
http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2011/august/eu-to-tighten-syria-sanctions/

Syrian rebels urge oil sanctions, Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/9e735f18-bd22-11e0-9d5d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1Uc2dGYoh

Syria steps up assaults on protesters, drawing first Arab League condemnation, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syria-launches-new-attack-against-protesters-in-east-arab-league-condemns-assault/2011/08/07/gIQAMmKS0I_story.html

Syria protests: Troops renew attacks on pro-democracy demonstrators, The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/09/syria-protest-troops-attack-democracy-demonstrators

Final Week for me…

•August 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hi, I’m Steve or Steph, as I’m colloquially known around here. Last week for me at Iguana land. It has been a busy schedule so far, lots of old friends leaving and new people arriving and we also had the added bonus of there being another birthday in the iguana station this week, Charlys 21st, so a good excuse for a group of us to go celebrate.

Feeling pretty optimistic about the next few days,lots of new hatchlings, trips into the woods to catch and release iguanas, need to top up on bug spray,  I have whale shark watching this afternoon so hopefully that will deliver and then I’m moving out to go and do my advanced diving course.  On the whole everything is good….. watch this space….

Day two …. The Cayes

•July 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Some of the volunteers gaurding the days clean-up supplies.

2011 Utila Clean-Up Festival Begins on the Beach

•July 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This morning saw the start of the second annual clean-up festival. We organise this with the local community. (His was the public school students getting ready for the opening march through town, waiting for the other schools to arrive)

Passing thoughts of an animal handler: Tarantulas

•July 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Tarantulas, ghastly, hairy and downright creepy to many, cute and cuddly little critters to me. We’ve had many pop in to say hello at the station of late, one such Tarantula even went so far as to try and jump on Paddy to give him a cuddle (Paddy, who its fair to say screamed like a little girl, was not amused). I’ll give you three guesses who was immediately called to the rescue. If you guessed me, then you sir/madam are correct. She was a beauty, a common Curly Haired Tarantula who was hiding under some wooden planks that were in the process of being turned into bunk beds. Initially I invited her to climb on my sandal, she didn’t approve of this plan, so I produced some cardboard with which she was very co-operative. One painless journey later (yes, finally an animal that hasn’t tried to savage me), I placed her near some burrows at the bottom of the station, where she casually strolled to freedom, as if it was all like one big stroll in the park.

This however was fairly undramatic compared to the events of the following night. There I was happily cooking some pasta when Paul’s voice came booming urgently down the stairs,

“Dave!!! There’s a massive Tarantula in my thong boxers, come and get it out!”

Not exactly the sort of thing I was expecting after a long day of work, so apparently now I’m spider man? If in doubt call Dave, well maybe Dave doesn’t want to be disturbed at all hours of the night to rescue people from the small hairy things in their underwear. I had quite an audience for the capture of this critter (or maybe just to spectate on Paul’s gallery of underwear strewn across the floor), which had left a long silky trail over the said underwear. A magazine cover was the Tarantula removal instrument of choice (or availability). We opened it up and knocked him down into it, where he seemed content to hide in its shade until I flicked him out to freedom in the garden. The relief amongst the room was immense, all that fuss over a small hairy arachnid. The said underwear was burned later that evening…

So what about Harriet? She’s our station Tarantula, and a very pretty little beast in my opinion. Typically of her species, she is very docile and prefers flight to fight. Even in her timid state, she still manages to scary many visitors, whom I openly encourage to give her a stroke or hold. I delight in the twisted expressions of horror from those whom are not accustomed to those eight hairy legs slowly creeping across their open palms. She has never bitten in the two plus years we have had her (or so I’m told), a fact that would no doubt help calm the visitors in the event that I actually tell them this information (I should have a little fun too right?) Alas Harriet’s former counterparts, our two deceased Tarantulas are in a very sorry state, one of them is totally legless (and not just due to the alcohol preservative), and the other has been ‘swallowed’ by one diver too many (thank you Parrot’s divers), however their large, gleaming black fangs are still intact, which is the important part after all.

Don’t you love these happy (and bite free) endings?

Passing thoughts of an animal handler: Iguanas

•July 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Good morning once again readers. I trust you are well.
My next set of posts will look at the colorful variety of animals that I (Dave) have had the chance to handle lately (or more to the point, the list of animals that have recently bitten, clawed, rendered or otherwise tried to kill me). Working at the Iguana station is a very hands on job, I mean would you really expect us volunteers to sit around drinking coffee while enjoying the view of the lovely animals? Heck no! The last week has been especially interesting for me, I’ve been summon to rescue several volunteers for the big bad Curly Haired Tarantulas that frequently make a new home in the station, I’ve been chomped on by a Pink Boa and made a daring rescue in the Parrot cage.
Just to remind you all ladies and gents, these animals may be in captivity, but they are still wild at heart, and are more then happy to defend themselves. Today I will be assessing my recent contact with the Iguanas. So within the last week I’ve ‘de-ticked’ Howard, our large handicapped Green Iguana (and believe me when I say this was NOT one for the ladies, those ticks get everywhere…) He put up a good struggle for an older guy, his tail is strong as ever, I took a few nasty tail swipes off him. However he can breath a temporary sigh of relief, his ticks are gone and we can leave him be for now, until the imminent tick invasion starts anew.
I also had quite a hair-raising situation early last week, while giving a tour I spotted a juvenile Swamper basking quite happily in the sun, thankfully it was in a cage, just not its own. Nope, the little sod had escaped and crawled into the Parrot’s cage. Even if more volunteers were around I think few of them would lack the common sense to venture into the cage to rescue it.
“Looks like its up to me then” I thought, I was a little weary of entering the cage with a tour group watching, I was worried this would agitate the Parrots, which needless to say I wanted to avoid for the safety of my face. Ramon, the male Parrot had attacked me a few days earlier while I was feeding them, I saw the gleam in the little devil’s eyes as he dive bombed straight into my shoulder. I entered the cage, Ramon was up high and tucked out of the way (or so I hoped), Rosalita was happy trying to tear the fingers off of my tour group. It seemed ideal, I was behind the Swamper, the Parrots were distracted, I slowly crept up to make a grab. I was just about to make a grab on the juvenile when Rosie saw fit to charge right at me. She had previously been on the ground, so my movements must have stirred her, as she ran towards me she ran right over the Swamper, I half expected her to attack it, but she seemed content to try and have a go at my toes. Time was up, it was now or never, one sneaky side-step allowed me to dodge Rosie, and grab the Swamper who had barely moved an inch the entire time. My right hand closed around its back legs, my left hand went to clamp its mouth shut, the little critter had other ideas though. It struck, sinking its jagged little teeth into my index finger. My thought pattern at that present moment was something along the lines of;
“Here I am saving your life and risking my toes / other appendages against these cute but feral Parrots and YOU have the cheek to bite me?” It is fair to say I was not brilliant amused by this gesture. Thankfully I didn’t flinch, otherwise I’d have been stripped of allot more finger flesh, but instead carried on, sidestepping another ‘affectionate’ peck from Rosie and darting out the cage before Ramon saw a chance to get another dive bomb in, all the while the Swamper was happy to keep its teeth firmly buried in my bleeding finger. Needless to say that was one additional bonus of that particular tour… You will be pleased to hear that the Swamper was reunited with friends and family later that afternoon. My finger alas, was not to be reunited with its freshly missing flesh.

(Alas the only pictures of my flesh being rendered are on tourist’s cameras, I’m sorry to disappoint).