Ascension : Ascension Island Revisited
Submitted by The Islander (Islander Editors) 21.04.2011 (Article Archived on 05.05.2011)
Our First Arrival: In December 1998, we arrived for the first time on Ascension to run a UK government (DEFRA) funded Darwin Initiative project.
Annette Broderick and Brendan Godley, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter (email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Our First Arrival: In December 1998, we arrived for the first time on Ascension to run a UK government (DEFRA) funded Darwin Initiative project. Having recently completed our PhD studies on marine turtles in Cyprus where 10 green turtles per night would have been a record, we were bowled over by the magnitude of nesting on the beaches here. We were also bowled over by the welcome we received and the profound interest in the turtles that were shared by so many island residents, some who had taken part in world leading fieldwork with Professor Archie Carr in the 1960’s and then his students, notably Jeanne Mortimer in the 1970’s. It didn’t take long before this enthusiasm was harnessed yet again and scores of people had helped us substantially in what became a very intensive few years of research. If you would like to read any of the results of this work then they are all available to download: http://www.seaturtle.org/mtrg/pubs/
On Island Efforts: When we came to the island, although there was a great deal of concern for the turtles and deep appreciation among many for the natural environment, there wasn’t too much active conservation ongoing. This has certainly changed in the last decade! The Ascension Island Bird Restoration Project, resulted in the birth of the Conservation Department. As a result of the Darwin project, the Ascension Island Turtle Group was formed and has, in conjunction with staff from the Conservation Department, continued the turtle monitoring. This has seen a number of key people come and go but the stalwart and longest serving co-ordinator, has been Jacqui Ellick who is still going strong. The work of the Conservation Department has continued to grow beyond that of birds and turtles, with a diversity of additional ongoing work, especially on both endemic and invasive plants yielding great dividends.
Re-acquainting ourselves: We are delighted to have returned to the island last week for the first time in several years with our children Ellie who is 11 and Daniel who will be 9 next week! While we are here we have three major aims in our work with local stakeholders: 1) To analyse the monitoring data to compile an updated status assessment of the green turtles nesting here. Ascension is the second largest green turtle rookery in the Atlantic and thus there is great interest around the world as to the success of the long-term conservation work ongoing on Ascension and the turtles’ major foraging area Brazil. See graph below for the last status report from: http://www.seaturtle.org/mtrg/pubs/Broderick_GEB_2006.pdf
2) To revise, after a decade, the Management Plan for Marine Turtles of Ascension: http://www.seaturtle.org/mtrg/projects/ascension/mplan.shtml
3) To discuss and support the writing of a major three year bid to the UK Government’s (DEFRA) Darwin Initiative that will see a range of specialist UK based organisations working with AIG Conservation Department to compile an island-wide Biodiversity Action Plan for Ascension that will address the long term strategic needs for conservation of all the unique animals and plants found here.
Finally, while we are here, we will be visiting Two Boats School and are happy to engage any interested parties on the island. Please contact us via the Conservation Office.