Day 272, Year 5 Turtle Quest
Date: Sunday, July 25, 2010
Weather: Perfectly Beautiful Day, Light Winds
Location: Nosy Iranja, NW Madagascar

Yesterday we visited ‘turtle’island by the back door. We took our dinghy to the far end of the beach away from the resort, but we were soon told we must leave. So our son-in-law Jed read last night’s log, got on the internet and did a few searches, and sent us new information on the turtle project here as well as a few suggestions on how we might still have a chance of seeing the hatchlings. Evidently the lodge works with Kelonia, the Observatory of Sea Turtles and Research Center in Reunion, to protect the endangered sea turtles that come ashore. Jed’s information went on to say that Nosy Iranja is the only island in Madagascar visited by two of the world’s eight turtle species. Both the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill’s come here to lay there eggs. So it really is a special place. The name of the ‘turtle man’ is Ignance, so thanks to Jed we at least know what is happening here and who to ask for. So this morning we said farewell to Ed and Lynne as they headed back to Hell-ville and we took our dinghy to the far end of the sand bar at low tide, beached it, and walked the three-quarters of a mile to the resort. We were immediately met by the same young man that met us yesterday, but this time he was wearing his official security badges. We tried to ask him if we could return in the evening for a beer. He understood ‘beer’ and immediately took us to the bar and restaurant. Then he went to get someone who could speak some English. So we are preparing to go ashore in just a bit, go to the bar, ask about Ignance the ‘turtle man.’ If we can’t talk to him we will then see if we can charm someone, anyone, into letting us see the hatchlings if there are any tonight. It is honestly much easier to take our dinghy into the end of the island where the turtle nests are because there is more surf at the resort end, but we were told we must bring the dinghy up on the beach right by the bar. So there is no way to see these little babies by going in the back door. We are going to have to walk right in the front and hope for the best. And Jed, thanks so much for the information.

After walking the three-quarters mile from the far end of the sand spit to the resort, we walked back to the village on the other end. The village end of the sand spit was crawling with tourists that must have arrived while we were at the Iranja Lodge. There was a neat row of white sun umbrellas and bikini clad people in the water, walking on the rocks, and sitting under the umbrellas that were affording absolutely no protection from the sun. A local woman was walking to the village so we asked her if there was a track to the lighthouse. Somehow she understood what we meant and showed us the way. We walked to the top of the island to the lighthouse and school, took a path through the bush and found it was not taking us in the right direction, and then came back and found an alternate path that led us back down the hill, through the village gardens, and eventually back to our dinghy after three hours of walking. We went snorkeling early this afternoon but it was not the greatest. But it was wonderful to be in the water. Now if this is to be sent while we still have propagation to do so, I’ll have to stop here. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what happens with the turtle quest.