by Luke, in Grenada
17th April, 2009

I’m writing today’s entry sitting on the balcony of our apartment about fifty metres from the beach. The sun seems to be almost reluctant in its gradual sinking descent below the horizon, there is a cool Caribbean breeze gently coming in off the sea and it’s by far the most relaxing evening of the trip to date. Adam is getting to grips with the night camera whilst teaching us some handy Italian phrases that you would never repeat to your Mother, Nathan is composing a Spanish love letter to his current favourite senorita, Marc is shaving his beard and Clive is stressing about a misbehaving locum who is supposed to be manning his practice back home.

Carriacou is a world apart from Grenada, it’s almost like stepping back in time. Everyone is very relaxed, there are a lot less people and the vibe is very much Caribbean time. This isn’t quite as bad as Africa time, but it’s a close run thing.

The big thing that happened immediately after our arrival on the island (the largest of the Grenadines) – was that we rescued a critically endangered hawksbill turtle from a local fisherman under the direction of Dario who runs the KIDO foundation. I instinctively liked Dario, his enthusiasm and outspoken passion for conserving the turtles second to none and he rattled off about a million facts about hawksbill turtles before we had even got the poor creature into the boat. Sadly the fisherman had cracked its plastron but we think it should heal fine and to be very honest, the options for hospitalisation and treatment for a 45year old female hawksbill turtle are limited. Clive has seen innumerate tortoises recover from those sort of injuries without any additional treatment so fingers crossed she is okay.

It was an amazing experience to be involved in the whole process and one I won’t forget in a hurry. They are beautiful creatures that are often caught up in the fishing lines that lace the islands reefs and corals. Although illegal for non-locals to catch them (they are CITES listed with over 90% of their population having been wiped out in the last ten years) under Grenada Fisheries law it is actually LEGAL for locals to catch turtles, from September 1 to April 30 (the only ‘year round’ protected turtle is the Leatherback (also because there is little demand locally, few people actually enjoy its oily tough meat). So during the legal hunting season Kido purchases the live turtles, which would otherwise suffer abominably for three/four days on their back, dragged all about before being finally put out of their misery (to date they have rescued 261 mature turtles).

There is no other way he can get the turtles off the fishermen and it’s a society of chilled compromise where strong arm tactics would never work. I admire his tenacity and although a very controversial way to try to protect them, he is pragmatic about what he can do and what will work. Once we had the turtle three miles out to sea, to avoid any more fishing lines, we popped her back in the water and she swam off at incredible speed. An amazing experience.

Eggs and nesting turtles are illegal to tamper with at all times. Unfortunately enforcement is non existent and since the eggs are supposedly an aphrodisiac they are prime targets, Kido patrol the beaches between march and August and their presence on the nesting beaches, community vigilance and  training of local youths is proving to be effective. The grand plan is that we will join them one night this week so fingers crossed it all works out.

Sadly there was also a catastrophe today. It transpires that Bruce can’t buy beer. He has no concept of money and managed to pay over three times the asking price for a round of tiny bottled beers. In short, he can’t be trusted with such incredibly important tasks and has taken a verbal beating from all of us for a good couple of hours (and will continue to do so tomorrow probably).

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