Slowly MEMANTA is turning into what we’ve imagined it to be over all these years. With more and more interns coming from overseas, the occasional tourist stopping by and exciting projects being realized, we are growing and improving every single month.
Here’s all the updates you need to know!
THE SEA TURTLE SEASON CAME TO AN END
Even though a new year had begun, we still had quite a few nests in the hatchery – both from Olive Ridleys and Green Turtles. Fortunately there were some helping hands around, first the Berg family and then Lennard, a brave soul from northern Germany who decided to do a 3-month internship in the field of geography! Even though Lennard’s focus wasn’t sea turtles, he got trained in nest exhumations and releases. We didn’t go on any more night patrols, but that didn’t stop him from witnessing one legendary nesting event right in front of our property! He saw the turtle dragging herself out of the water, totally unexpected, in the middle of the day, when he was having his midday beach break. What a lucky guy! He immediately called us and we collected the eggs together – it was the last nest of the 2021/2022 season!
We also did less and less night-time releases as we weren’t guarding the hatchery any more. Also, experience showed us that during dark nights (= new moon phases) the hatchlings had difficulties finding the ocean, even though Venecia is one of the least developed beaches in Nicaragua and has practically no light pollution. That’s why we released all of the later nests during the late afternoon. We did this by starting an “early exhumation” once the babies were close to the surface – so instead of waiting for them to emerge on their own, we accelerated that process by a few hours and got them ready for sunset.
We noticed that the success rate for the later Olive Ridley nests decreased, which we attributed to the rising temperatures and dryness of the sand – even though our hatchery is shaded, the measured temperatures seemed favourable and we watered the nests from time to time. But something didn’t add up. The first Green Turtle nests had marvellous success rates, but the last ones were also a bit “weak”, so we definitely need to look more into that matter.
VARIED ACTIVITIES DURING DRY SEASON
Unfortunately Lennard did not get any company from other volunteers or interns during his 3-month stay at MEMANTA, but he didn’t feel too alone because we didn’t only work together, but also did some fun activities whenever we could. It was a small and joyful group of 3 🙂
Lennard was of great help to us and definitely left a legacy. As it was the height of the dry season, one very important job was to water our younger trees, every other day, carrying buckets of water around in the early morning hours. Then, he helped Melvin with various tasks that involved maintenance, construction, handicrafts and woodworking. They renewed some important infrastructure on the property and even added a nice little beachfront hangout with some shade and a bench to sit on. Because – you know – we don’t have beach umbrellas and lounge chairs… 🙂 We also renewed our electricity posts along the road which had been due for a while – the old ones were already used by woodpeckers to make their nests!
Apart from that, Lennard started going to the local school once or twice a week to help out the english teachers and strengthen our relationship with the local community. Another very important task he took on was contacting universities worldwide to let them know about our internship program. And I mean, yes – he covered everything from Australia over the UK until Canada! Germany ended up being by far the most responsive nation. Lennards long “office hours” in the Rancho with slow, unreliable internet and a malfunctioning computer paid out in the end, as we received quite a few inquiries! We now have people coming in June, July, August, September, October, November, December… while most of the time we’ll have smaller teams of 1-3 interns, we are fully booked for November!
Lennard was fortunate enough to take part in all kinds of leisure activities MEMANTA has to offer right now. We had beach bonfires, party nights, lazy days, boat rides, fishing trips, short and long hikes, city excursions, surf lessons and a lot more as part of our schedule! Lennard would definitely be one of those guys to come back one day as I think he really flourished in this environment.
FUN WITH PLANTS AND OTHER LIVING THINGS
Just two days after Lennard left, we welcomed our next interns: Luisa and Lisa from Germany, who were keen to learn more about the local flora and fauna. Luisa is even going to write her bachelor thesis about our beloved Michiguiste, a native tree species that you can find all around Venecia and which has some distinctive traits that makes it a highly invasive species in many parts of the world.
As they had never been to a Latinamerican country before, Luisa and Lisa needed a few days to adapt to the different environment, the heat, the insects, the food… I mean, it can be quite challenging sometimes. But who is not going to fall in love with Venecia eventually? After 1 month, they had experienced so much, shared so much laughter, joy and tears, learned so many new things and discovered some new personal strengths. These two were our “plant girls”, simply because they took care so well of our little forest and garden (it’s basically a wild mix of virgin beachfront forest and cultivated plants).
Luisa and Lisa helped us planting new trees at selected sunny spots around the campsite, as well as on our newer property on the road which still looks so ugly and empty. They set up a botanical plant guide which covers most of the species you can find at MEMANTA, for which they researched the most important facts regarding distribution, appearance and usage. Finding the plants from the botanical guide on our property is suuuuper easy because you just need to watch out for the beautiful, shiny, coloured signs which they put up!
But maybe the biggest legacy of “Li and Lu” has been the big MEMANTA sign on the road! Yes, we tried to stay hidden during all these years… but our interns finally convinced us that a sign at the road entrance was very much needed. Coincidence had it that they found a beautiful piece of driftwood on the beach. We carried it up to the Rancho, talked about the design, they painted it and a few days later we put it up – we definitely had a blast doing so 🙂
RAINY SEASON IS HERE… ONCE AGAIN
Luisa and Lisa experienced two climate extremes, as they came at the very end of the dry season and the very beginning of the rainy season. In fact, rainy season started a bit earlier this year and so far, it looks very promising. Within just a few weeks, the dusty savannah turned into a lush rainforest. Grass, weeds and seedlings are popping up everywhere, trees are gaining height and width at an unbelievable speed, and mosquitoes have come to show us their affection for our sweet sweet blood. Rainy season definitely has its ups and downs. But as a plant lover, the greenery just never fails to amaze me!
I just had a little walk around the property after a heavy rainfall and these pictures were the outcome:
Oh well, I probably haven’t covered even 10% of what happened since December, but with so many impressions and things on my mind, I don’t know what else to say. Thing is: The next intern is showing up in just a few days and we’ll get the hatchery ready for another big MEMANTA season – this year, we’ll have more helping hands and everyone wants to see babyturtles, so we better make sure there will be plenty! Also, I hope we can finally start with some more in-depth data collection as we might have enough people to cover all of the daily tasks plus night patrols, hatchery shifts, morning censuses AND research.
We are so excited about what’s to come and hope you’ll go on this journey with us together – even if it’s only virtually.