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Save Our Leatherbacks Operation (S.O.L.O.)

Extinction is Forever :: www.saveourleatherbacks.org
Save Our Leatherbacks Operation

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A Very special diving opportunity!

September 1 to 12, 2015

A voyage to dive and also search for five (5) of the seven nesting sea turtles which come to Bali waters.

Click Here to see complete shedule





Your Expedition will be hosted by Dr. Larry McKenna. Founder of S.O.L.O. with seven years of Leatherback experiences and assisted by P.J. Campagna/Shon Corrier who have been to the beach twice.
For information and reservations, Please contact P.J. at pj-campagna@comcast.net OR Larry at saveourleatherbacks@earthlink.net



NOTE: This is the Follow on Article as referenced in the Feb 2012
Newsletter, Page 4

The Pacific Leatherback Turtle nesting season is normally between May 1 and October 31; give or take a few days depending on trade wind reversals and the whims of the returning Leatherback females.
As has been our practice for the past seven years, we employ local villagers for the season and visit the Leatherback Beach (c) in the months of July and August. It is in this period that most of the returning females come from the sea on the high tide to locate where they were hatched, to nest and promulgate the species.
Trip one began with confusion with a luggage mess. Wings Air did not load six sets of dive gear. Bonnies’ set was left in Tokyo. As a result, our departure to the Leatherbacks was pushed back a day. Seven of the group had no dive gear; some no clothes. Our decision tree was chopped off at the roots by deciding to wait and deal with the unknowns of tomorrow. If the missing gear arrived as assured, we would set sail, with the same schedule, less one day of diving.
In the Expedition, preplanning and with the agreement of the boat owners, we decided to add one more dining location on the boat to vary the meals as much as we could; considering the size and lay out of the boat. The plan was to debut the “Le Bistro” on the Lido Deck enroute as a surprise to all. The concept was to set up tables on the The Lido Deck, whenever the boat was in protected waters or at anchor.
Then “Murphy” rose from the dead. The tables sent were larger than planned as were the black checkered tablecloths. We wanted a more intimate setting of four to a table with candles. Her we were with tired,
hungry and a frustrated full house with nowhere to go and for some, no clean clothes to change into. “Le Bistro” to the rescue!!!! Suraya (the new cook) and Made, our ever patient steward, rose to the occasion by serving the dinner meal at anchor in Sorong harbor with a buffet menu full of gourmet surprises. Weka and Larry went ashore in search of wine for dinner. We located a small shop which had squirrelled away under the counter a few bottles of Penfolds 2008 (best year ever) Australian Shiraz – at $90 a bottle.The combination of a happy boat crew who helped Suraya and played island music as all wined and dined, turned
what could have been an ugly night into one of pleasure. “Le Bistro” was christened and became the diners’ choice for meals. The missing bags arrived, save the set stuck in Tokyo. A collection of dive gear was kludged together so Bonnie could dive until her gear appeared along the way. We were OFF to the Leatherbacks!
Considering one dive day was lost, the remainder of Trip one went as well, if not better than could be expected. Trip two was “flawless”; considering where we were. The fabled “Glassine Seas”(c) were with us for both Expeditions. At Palau Dua, Larry rediscovered the ammo dump and air plane parts off Navy Pier; except the pier is no longer there as a landmark. Villagers tore it up and sold the metal for scrap. The first dive was more eventful than usual because we were in the water earlier in time to catch the giant bump heads and wrasses as they were exiting the wrecks to form up and search for breakfast. LOTS of photo opportunities. Dive two offered a choice as to go locate WW II ammo and plane parts or go see the P-38 under the barge.
At about mid-day of the revised day two, we anchored off Warmandi Village (the village where we employ staff and also assist them in ways for a better life) for three reasons: (1) to allow all to go ashore to see the village and meet its residents, (2) to permit Larry some time to have one on one meetings with Isaac, the Village head man and his council and (3) to collect our staff who will assist us at night on the beach in search of nesting Leatherbacks. Please see the companion article about Village meetings and more positive happenings in progress to help them.
All back on board, we turned Westward for “Leatherback Beach” with dinner enroute and to prepare our beach and camera gear to be ready when the Leatherbacks began to emerge from the dark seas (we hoped). We have modified our ways of alerting guests when the Leatherbacks begin to emerge from the ocean. This new method puts us on the beach, usually as the first emerging Leatherback is searching for her nest location.
For the past three years, the Leatherbacks have been spotted between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. exiting the sea. This year we were called to the beach at about 9 Leatherbacks. p.m. to begin our observations. Perhaps this new spotting and alert method is assisting us to find/observe more Leatherbacks than before. All who went to the beach on both Expeditions saw or had the opportunity to see from three to six nesting The above photo, right, is of our beach wardens for 2011.
All back on board, we turned Westward for “Leatherback Beach” with dinner enroute and to prepare our beach and camera gear to be ready when the Leatherbacks began to emerge from the dark seas (we hoped). We have modified our ways of alerting guests when the Leatherbacks begin to emerge from the ocean. This new method puts us on the beach, usually as the first emerging Leatherback is searching for her nest location.
On occasion while we have Expeditioners on the Leatherback beach, we come across other people who are parts of at least three divergent groups who come, as we, to see and examine the Leatherbacks. One young Indonesian lady from Jakarta, “Deasy Lontoh”, is gathering data for her Master’s Degree in marine science took time to explain her activities to nine of our group. Her group efforts can be different (and often are) from the S.O.L.O. methods and purposes. The more people who come to see and learn about the Leatherbacks and their biology is a definite help to the efforts we all share in our attempt to preserve this species. environmental hero.
Our beach findings, as supported by data by our Wardens, are encouraging, as to quality of observations. The female population continues to drop. The loss of one adult is quite serious. It appears that at season end, the data will reflect no more than about 450 to 500 adult females are alive. Of this estimate, approximately 30% of those come to the beach and do NOT nest. Each mature female in a season, will usually nest between four and seven times. The matrix of computing how many adult females are alive is an exercise in statistics because of the multiple variations between years and where the females go to find swarming jellyfish; their favorite food. (At this writing a mass of Leatherbacks are munching “jellies” off the Farralon Islands, West of San Francisco.)
A new ingredient into the “survival stew” as has been reported earlier in our News Letters, is the predation by feral pigs and dogs (means wild ones which destroy nests and eat the eggs.). In past years the number of nests and eggs destroyed were a concern; but not a severe issue because the destruction was minimal. The origins of these wild animals is from the villages who either turn out the pigs to forage on the rich eggs to fatten them for markets or some in each litter escape to grow unopposed in the jungles. The pig has no natural enemy. A 300 pound or heavier wild boar is a frightening sight to come across in the night. The “macho” village men are absolutely terrified of them. Within the past two years, the nest and egg destruction has escalated to major proportions,
where in certain beach locations the destruction exceeds 60%. liner killings do not compare with this new threat. The Asian long
This pig issue is also a problem in about 26 U.S. States. There is quite a bit of brain power at work to eradicate the wild pigs which destroy crops, animals and all else in their path. The “standard” solutions, as reported in our 2011 News Letter 1st Edition would not be allowed in Indonesian jungles for reasons particular to the region. GREEN solution to the issue which after three years of S.O.L.O. has developed an ALL debate with the authorities has won acceptance so that now all researchers are adopting the concept in one form or another. We successfully prototyped the design in Papua New Guinea along their Leatherback beaches. This season we have deployed the initial twelve Green
Solutions effectively. More will follow. This concept is to place thin bamboo grids over the nests so the pigs and dogs cannot smell and/or get to the nests. As eggs in a nest hatch, the babies can easily crawl through the openings in the grid and scramble to the sea. After a nest hatches, the grids are relocated to newer nests.
Here as before, S.O.L.O. has pioneered a path which demonstrates that we CAN reverse the extinction. We encourage others to emulate our achievements.
Both Expeditions departed the Leatherback beaches at about mid-day of day three and headed overnight into the Raja Ampat Islands. A modification to the security concerns removed the necessity to first check in with Police at Saonic Island. We selected the “best of the best in dive locations” with 100% weather cooperation.
The dives were as spectacular as many who read this report might remember and then some, as seas and currents cooperated. The guests opted for the “Le Bistro” as a site for our traditional Beach BBQ vs. Orchid Beach and similar sites of the past.
As has been the tradition since the Expedition in 2006 (when Larry DID serve up Lobsters to all), the traditional “Larry’s Lobster Dinner” was held in a beach side Warung (small restaurant) in Sorong before the crew farewell party (above). Excellent foods and fun with the crew away from the boat. To some, this was a first occasion to eat with fingers. Bakau crabs, udang tepung, individually selected grilled ayam and ikan, steamed rice, and BINTANGS and finger bowls.
An Honor for S.O.L.O. to have such terrific Expeditioners on these; The last of the Leatherback Expeditions (with certain exceptions to be explained in the next News Letter). Photos & Text © by Larry McKenna and Denise Tarrant.

Leatherback sea turtle babies
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