The Future is in our Hands…

UN World Wildlife Day 2016’s theme this year is “the future of wildlife is in our hands”. This is an important message, right now.

Here at Naucrates, on Koh Phra Thong, Thailand, the future population of nesting green turtles is at least partly in our hands.

In the past 30 years there has been a huge decline in the diversity of sea turtle species regularly nesting on this island. There are many factors affecting this – poaching, fishing practices and predation to name a few.

This season, we have 4 green turtle nests so far, 3 on Koh Phra Thong, and 1 on Koh Ra. We sincerely hope that these two females will visit again and we will have a higher number of total nests this year. We currently do not have any nests from other species of sea turtles on this island.

With such a low number of nesting females, our presence here can have a positive impact on the future of sea turtles on this island. While we are here, we monitor the beaches, protect the nests and relocate them if necessary. During the hatching period we camp by the nest and ensure that at least the first part of these tiny hatchlings journey is successful. We want them to reach the sea, and from there we hope that they survive to return in 20 years to nest on this paradise island.

The long term presence of Naucrates on this island has led to a close working relationship with locals, who are now enthusiastic about protecting the turtles that we have left here, rather than eating the eggs. Working alongside the local community is a key part of our work here, and environmental education sessions over the years are ensuring that the school children of the island grow up with a view that wildlife should be protected.

Koh Phra Thong is an island undergoing changes, it is remote, it doesn’t have mains electricity or water, and there are not lots of regular boat crossings to get here unless you organize one yourself. Despite this, more resorts are appearing, low key bungalows utilizing the areas on and just behind the beaches. It has an extremely diverse bird population, and we regularly come across reptiles and see bats foraging. We hope that our presence here and the sensitivity of the local community to their wildlife will ensure that in the future the development of the island isn’t detrimental to marine or terrestrial biodiversity.

UN World Wildlife Day 2016 “The future of wildlife is in our hands”

Everybody can do their bit to help, no matter how small. For Naucrates, we invite you to ‘Sponsor a Turtle’. You can sponsor one of our hatchlings, we have a nest hatching at the moment, and your donations will help us this year, and in future years, to protect the nesting populations here. They will enable us to do more environmental education sessions with the local children, and to hopefully ensure that we do not lose the nesting green turtles forever. We need to act now for wildlife.


and in the “How to help” section you can sponsor a hatchling!


I will leave you with some photographs of the wildlife we have here, enjoy!

Chloe Dalglish – Naucrates Volunteer Co-ordinator



A paradise tree snake, at Horizon Eco Resort


Awaiting final species identification, a leaf nosed bat at Nok’s Restaurant and Bungalows.


Awaiting final species identification, a leaf nosed bat at Nok’s Restaurant and Bungalows.


and last… a hatchling from our first nest, on the way to start it’s ocean adventure.

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The Yay Day!

The voice of children laughters in Baan Lion woke me up that morning. I opened my eyes and looked around in my new homestay room. It was already bright outside and I smiled. Why? Because that day was the first day I did not have to wake up at 5 a.m to walk 10 km on the beach. It was my third day volunteering with Naucrates in Koh Phra Thong, Thailand.

I got ready lazily and walked to the Naucrates field station at the village. Some other volunteers were already there, and there was Barry – a Canadian researcher who spoke fluent Thai and had been helping Naucrates for the last few years. I had a good feeling that morning and asked with a big smile “Turtle tracks today?” There had not been any turtle tracks for the last few days, so the answer was probably no, but the answer that I got from Barry was surprising, “They found a turtle nest today.” Did he say turtle nest? Turtle nest!! For real? It was the first turtle nest in the season, and also the first one for the staff after walking the beach 10 km every day for the last 50 days!

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Last night we had already arranged some activities for volunteers that day, but after the nest finding the schedule changed. Now everyone was too excited to check the nest. According to Mr. Thep, a Thai villager who monitored the beach every morning, the nest was too close to the sea and the eggs might have to be relocated to a safer location. So around 10.45 a.m all 6 volunteers and 2 staff went to the nest site. It was my first time seeing a track and a nest of a wild turtle. Looking at the size and patterns created on the sand, Andrea – Naucrates field leader – concluded it was a green turtle that laid the eggs. We took measurement of the track and based on the shell’s width, it was probably the same turtle who came to the shore and left a track a few days before. If I had seen a turtle nest on a beach before that day, there was no way I would thought it would have been one because it did not look like a nest at all (at least in my opinion).

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Mr. Thep was right about the need to relocate the eggs as the nest was only a few meters from the sea during low tide, but according to Andrea it had to be done when the weather was cooler. The temperature that morning was over 30°C and the eggs and embryos should not be exposed to such a high temperature. So we came back to the same nest site at 5 p.m, chose a new site not far from the nest but far enough from the sea so we did not have to worry about high tide. We cleaned the new site for relocation from debris and vegetation, but then when we were ready to dig the nest and take the eggs, it started to rain heavily and we did not want to soak the eggs to the rain water too, so we waited again.

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Finally the rain passed and Andrea started digging the nest, looking for the egg chamber. Within 5 minutes he reached the top of the egg chamber and we saw a couple of turtle eggs emerged out from the sand in the hole that Andrea dug.

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Now here comes the tricky part: relocating the eggs. Ideally, the eggs have to be relocated to a new “nest” with minimum change during the moving, as minimum as possible. So we tried to create a new “nest” as similar as possible to the original nest. They ought to have the same measurement, dimension, and depth, as well as temperature and humidity. The egg position and their order should not change as well. Andrea took the first egg on top, carefully placed it on the sand without rotating it, then Etienne – Naucrates volunteer coordinator – carefully took the egg and put it in an egg tray that we had prepared, again without rotating it otherwise the egg would not hatch. The first egg tray was filled with turtle eggs within 10 minutes, and within the next 50 minutes, just after a stunning sunset, we’ve got 113 green turtle eggs ready to be relocated.

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After taking notes of the dimension of the original nest, Andrea dug a new “nest” following the real nest dimension and together with Etienne they put the turtle eggs, one by one, in reversed order, inside the artificial egg chamber that had just been made. After all the eggs were put inside, we covered the artificial nest with sand, took its exact location with GPS and backed it up with a method called triangulation where the distance of the relocated nest to two nearest trees to form a triangle were measured.

The whole relocation progress took over two hours and we finished after dark, drenched in the rain, with feet full of sandfly bites, but we felt accomplished with the first nest relocation today. Now, we hope to see over 100 hatchlings in the next 50-60 days and more nests from the same turtle in the next two weeks! Stay tuned and subscribe to Naucrates blog to read more updates about the nest🙂


By Liz, volunteer with Naucrates (January 16th – 31st 2016)

What is it like to be a volunteer?

This was my first time in a conservation project and I would definitely recommend this experience to everyone that is looking for eco voluntering. What is it like to be a volunteer for Naucrates? Let me tell you.

Basically, we have 3 main activities which are beach monitoring, measurements of weather and tide conditions and observation.  I will describe only the first and the last activity because there were my favourites. So, every early morning we walked the three beaches of the island (splitting in two teams) to check if any sea turtle came during the night to lay eggs, in this way we can protect the nest from predators and human activity. I wasn’t lucky enought to see a nest during my stay on the island (possibly due to El Niño of last year) but I nevertheless really enjoyed walking on the beach when all is still dark because temperature is cool, everything is still quiet and so peaceful and you can watch beautiful sunrise everyday! If you have never seen a sea turtle, the best way to see one is to go for observation shift on the hornbill hill. From there, you have a great view on a feeding area where normally only juvenile turtles come everyday. We collect data regarding their behaviour and learn to recognize the diferent sea turtle species. As usually same turtles are coming everyday and as they have some distinctive signs on their carapace like barnacles, we started to give them names to help us in our work. So maybe next time you will come, you might have the chance to see Barbara, Barnee or Noe!

Daily activities can sometimes be interrupted by unexpected events, it happened few times when I was there. One day we were monitoring a beach early morning when we received a call from a villager that a juvenile stranded turtle has been found on the mud next to the pier. It needed to be rescued, so we asked local people to bring us the turtle to check if it had any injury. Once done, we had to release it to the sea but it was impossible to do it directly from the beach where we were because it is a bay and we noticed a net quite close that can possibly be a danger for the turtle and we couldn’t do it from another beach either because on that day there were too many big waves for a juvenile turtle so we had to figure out what to do. After some discussions,  we decided to take kayaks and paddled out of the bay to safely release the turtle in open water. That was so thrilling to see how fast a sea turtle can swim! IMG_1159 (2)On another day, Et (a thai working for one of the resorts of the island) informed us that he saw some sea turtle tracks on Koh Ra beaches (Koh Ra is an island with 8 beaches in the north of Koh Phra Thong that we monitor as well but only once a week because of logistics issues). When tracks are found we need to check as soon as possible if they lead to a nest. Because it was late afternoon and no boat available to take us there, we couldn’t go same day and had to wait for next morning. We found 5 tracks on two different beaches but unfortunately no nest. For each track, we record the GPS position, the size and the position compared to the tide level and vegetation. The shape of the tracks allowed us to identify that it was a green turtle of 1m lenght that came 5 times on the beach. Could be Barbara which is an adult that was in the feeding area few days ago. However, we do not know why she didn’t lay eggs. Did she have any troubles? Had she been bothered? We came back on Koh Ra few days later but no signs of her and neither on the observation area. We can only wait and see if she comes back another time on the beach. This is the tricky and interesting part of the project: we are working with wild creatures and have no power on them!

Being an eco volunteer is not only about sea turtles it is also about participating in the life of the island by doing environmental education with children, building a relationship with local people or arranging the conservation community center.  I particularly liked working with children because they are always willing to learn and I think that the younger you teach them something the easier they will remember it. Working with kids is a good way to communicate about Naucrates project as they will be the first ones to spread to their friends or parents what they learnt. So we decided to organize with the teacher and students of the school of Tapayoi (the only school on the island) a beach cleaning and a drawing session to raise awareness among wastes on the beach and consequences for marine life. The aim was to go with them on the beach with some trash bags to collect garbage and show them how much plastic/glass/styrofoam are thrown back by the sea everyday. After this, Andrea (Naucrates field leader) explained -with the help of the teacher who was translating in thai- the negative impacts of plastic and styrofoam for sea turtles, fishes and marine life in general. We then asked the students to make two teams so that one team could draw wrongdoings such as throwing water bottles in the sea and the other team could draw good actions like spliting garbage. To finish the activity, kids drew all together a big green turtle on a black board and wrote “save turtles” next to it. It was so nice to see how interested in turtles the kids were, they really seemed to understand the stakes of the project and why we have to protect them. Andrea will definitely try to organize other activities with them during the season.
I could write a lot more about all the activities that we are doing in Koh Phra Thong such as working on the conservation community center, cooking lessons or something else but I am sure that other volunteers would like to tell their experience as well. What I can say is that by seing the drastic fall down of number of nests during the last thirty years, I realized how much human activity is part of this descrease and how important is our work here to try to invert this situation.  I woke up everyday during my five weeks on the island, with same motivation to walk, to find a track, a nest, to observe sea turtles behaviour because I do strongly believe in the aim of the project.  It wasn’t easy to build a strong relationship with local people as an international NGO but Naucrates made it over the years and I felt that locals are happy to see us. We need to keep raising awareness and make them understand that they are the key of success of this project and that even small actions can help preserving the marine life/environment. I reckon that everybody can work at its own scale and from now on I will definitely pay more attention to my actions. Finally, I found out that voluntering is a good way to spend my holidays; I can serve a good cause and discover a country from a different perspective at the same time. So my last words will be: join Naucrates and live a great adventure! Amandine

Turtles hatching during our camp-out

Corrie, Kate and Brice for evening tea on the beach

Corrie, Kate and Brice having evening tea on the beach

One of the nests we had been monitoring was due to hatch so we all decided to camp out on the beach that evening in the hope of seeing some hatchlings. The eggs tend to hatch anytime between the 50th and the 60th day so it can be hard to predict, but we all agreed that we’d continue to camp out every night until they did. Luckily for us, it only took two days of being eaten alive by sand flies and Mosquitos but it was worth it!

Climbing the palm tree for a sunset view

Climbing the palm tree for a sunset view

We had a picnic dinner under the stars before we decided on who would take the first watch. Brice and I were paired together for the 2am-6am shift so had to try and get some sleep which was easier said than done! Sand actually isn’t all the comfortable to sleep on which isn’t helped by the humidity in the air and the sand flies biting you through your clothes but eventually I think we managed to get a couple of hours between us. Kate woke us at 2am and we made our way over to the nest and tried to stay awake playing my new favourite game which involved us punching each other every time one of us saw a star that twinkled. By 5am both our arms were pretty sore, but at least we were awake! Then it happened! Suddenly hatchlings began making their way up through the sand and scrabbling down the beach to the sea. Quite frankly, for the first time in my life I was speechless, it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. We had two puppies with us that evening who didn’t quite know what to make of the hatchlings but Brice and I held onto them pretty tight to make sure they didn’t harm any of the babies. The sun quickly came up and the hatchlings had all made it to sea, phew! Kate then started digging down the nest as she said often the babies come up in batches and sure enough she found batch number two! A second wave of little hatchlings appeared before our very eyes and this time I had my camera ready.

Hatchling emerging from the nest

Hatchling emerging from the nest

Observing the Turtles and the Weather


Corrie and Mark

Corrie and Mark

Mark and I met at 7am at the bikes and rode the 4km through the savannah down the concrete road towards Karen’s for breakfast. Today I had an omelette with Thai vegetables and toast, yum! We leave the bikes and continue on foot to the other side of the island to the weather box. The weather box contains measuring tape and two thermometers, one to measure the sea temperature and another to measure the air temperature. We write down the data and then take the measuring tape to measure the tide. Mark does this whilst I wade into the sea with a bucket to collect water to measure the sea temperature.

Green Turtle spotted from our observation point

Green Turtle spotted from our observation point

Once we have collected all the data we then walk up the beach towards the observation point which is at the top of Hornbill Hill. Using ropes and a bit of muscle we climb up the hill accompanied by a couple of local dogs that make it all look a little too easy! Once at the top we take a couple of pillows and settle down for a 2 hour observation of the sea. We saw two green turtles coming up for air and feeding so we mark this down in the folder along with one fishing boat and a snorkeler. By the time we finish it’s 11.30 and the tide has risen so high that on our ay back we have to wade through it with our bags perched above our heads to stop them getting wet.

Crossing the tidal creek

Crossing the tidal creek

Corrie Heale, UK

” And they say the English have bad teeth!!!!!!!  Speaking as someone who has never done anything like this before I certainly threw myself in at the deep end!

I couldn’t be further away from my normal life; I’m currently the Art Editor for a large celebrity publication back in London so wasn’t quite expecting to have a tree frog jump on my head in the shower that’s for sure! Although, surprisingly there actually isn’t that many ‘creepy crawlies’ on the island, they tend to keep themselves to themselves which suits me fine thank you very much!

So, just thought I’d give an account of a typical day on the island for those of you who are thinking of coming and want a volunteer’s eye view of the project. There are two major tasks that need to be done on a daily basis, one is the turtle observation from Hornbill Hill and the other is the beach walk, both of which are early morning activities. This particular blog entry is about the morning beach walk. 

Corrie on beach walk

Corrie on beach walk

Typical Walk

I wake at 6am and made my way to the Turtle house to meet my morning walking partner, Brice. It was still dark but the sun rises quickly here so it’s not long until it’s light and we’re walking through the savannah. We tread carefully through the long waist high grass towards the beach to look for turtle tracks. Being a bit obsessed with dinosaurs as child I can’t help but think how much this island resembles Jurassic Park! With the theme tune repeating itself in my head and almost treading on a few small lizards, we reach the beach. We then walk the 5km stretch keeping our eyes peeled for turtle tracks, as well as other activity such as boats, people and deer tracks. Unfortunately I never came across any turtle tracks during my time here, but that didn’t matter to me too much as the walk is stunning and a far cry from my busy London commute. We marked down what we saw; on this occasion 6 boats and 2 joggers and head over to Karen’s for some breakfast “

 Time of stay: 02/2014

Kirsty Fraser, Research Assistant Nov ’13 – Feb ’14



Sawadeekaa (or hello for those who don’t speak Thai), my name is Kirsty and I am the research assistant for the Naucrates turtle conservation project, working on the island of Koh Phra Thong in Thailand for the first part of the season.

 I have been on the island since the beginning of November and would love to share my experience of a different and diverse culture with volunteers and staff members from the past, present and hopefully the future.

 So almost nine weeks on the project now and I’m having a fantastic time, and I am presently trying not to think about my rapidly diminishing stint left on the project. After spending the majority of the beginning of the year in Costa Rica and discovering the wonder of turtles on the beach, then returning home for a few months before heading to the country, I forgot how amazing it was to walk the beach in the rising sun of the early morning, only then to come across the phenomenon of a fresh turtle track and possibly a nest.


Green turtle track on the beach just after sunrise.

Having studied palaeobiology at university, it is still difficult for me to believe that turtles have been undertaking these exact same activities for millions of years, lasting through mass extinction events, climate change, and a host of others obstacles. By rights, the lack of evolution they have shown, to me means that they ought to be extinct by now. Knowing how much sea turtles have lived and thrived through makes it very difficult to realise that without projects and organisations such as Naucrates, we could be looking at a world with no turtles due to the egocentricity and ignorance of man.

Therefore, to be employed in a place as amazing as this, helping to conserve such incredible creatures is what life is all about, if a little bittersweet. The rush of safely probing and digging for the egg chamber in a nest, sometimes for hours provides a huge thrill for me, and the joy of finding the eggs and being able to say ‘yes I saved some turtles today’ is the best feeling in the world. To then be able to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with volunteers who are genuinely interested in conservation as a general subject is incredibly important, and to see the development of their ideas on conservation issues due to frequent discussions, specifically regarding turtle conservation is fantastic to see.

For me, a highly interesting activity the project conducts is the daily turtle behavioural observation. This is the first time I have been able to see turtles swimming in the wild from land; it is a beautiful sight seeing these animals in their natural environment and not something many people are able to claim. We observe the turtles within a recognised juvenile feeding area, as they emerge above the surface of the ocean for breathing, and catalogue all times and locations of these emergences. This data will hopefully be used to establish a marine protected area.


Juvenile green turtle emerging for a breath

Out of the 7 extant turtle species, the ones we currently see on the project quite frequently are the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), with possibilities of having the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Leatherback (Dermochelys spp.) turtles nesting on the beaches. An early start to our nesting season this year means we are already watching over 4 nests (2 definite, 2 possible) on our beaches. With the first nest due to hatch very soon I’m hoping the end of this month will be a super exciting time!!

The volunteers we have had for the season so far have been very pleased with the selection and amount of activities offered, and the daily variation of activities conducted within the weekly schedule. Some volunteers have also taken time out to enjoy activities provided by the local community such as Thai massage, renting kayaks, school visits, savannah tours, and visits to Thapa Yoi village. Volunteers of all ages (above 10 years) are welcome, including family groups.

They have all commented on the great quality of the food provided by the home-stay families, and by Lamion and Nok at the beach bar and bungalows where we are also staying this year; I can also attest to the amazing quality and quantity of the food provided at all places we frequent. I will be sad to leave behind the best food I have tasted in a long time.

 The Thai people seem to have a tradition where they celebrate anything and everything possible. My first experience of this was the Loi Krathong water festival, where all the locals made water floats using trunks from banana trees and decorating them with banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks. I was lucky enough to be shown how to decorate my own, and then headed down to the beach in the evening to say a prayer and release my float into the ocean. There was of course a party, food and free sangria included so how could I refuse?!


My attempt at making a float for Loi Khratong

Christmas is not a traditional festivity in Thailand but did this stop them from celebrating? Absolutely not! Nok and Lamion dressed the bar up with fairy lights, tinsel and streamers galore. They provided a barbecue with copious amounts of food, drinks were flowing and the ‘traditional’ Bob Marley music made way for a more party-oriented musical selection. Unfortunately an early night for those of us walking the beach the next morning, however the party continued for the locals into the early hours of the morning.


Chritmas decorations at Nok’s beach bar and bunglaows

The Boxing Day tsunami memorial was an interesting day activity-wise. The standard beach walks in the morning followed by heading to the beach by Mr. Chui’s bungalows and bar for the traditional monks’ prayer. Lunch on the beach was followed by a meeting with the director of the Marine Conservation Department, Ministry of Tourism to discuss the recent head-starting project set up in Thapa Yoi village. We headed back to the beach to witness the release of 10 1year-old green turtle hatchlings that had come from the Phuket Marine Biological Centre that morning. Later in the evening they had music, food and a party for revellers to celebrate the passing of time where they released fire lanterns into the sky, a beautiful moving spectacle. Lots of locals and many foreigners were there to enjoy the day’s activities.




Buddhist monks performing the traditional prayer for the tsunami memorial


Year-old hatchlings being released into the ocean

The last Thai festivity I will have the honour of experiencing will be Children’s Day, held in the little known ‘village’ of Thung Dap. It is reputed to be a typical Thai party, with the intention of celebrating children. I am promised there will be food (including ice-cream), drink, games, music, dancing and a lot of fun. I can no doubt guarantee that I will be roped into entertaining the local children for at least part of the day, and I have to say I am looking forward to spending some time with the island residents we rarely see.

 A little over 3 weeks until I leave the project and I must confess I’m not looking forward to heading home to the undemanding and frustrating lifestyle I have ‘enjoyed’ for 25 years, and to the very cold and wet climate of the British winter. Not a day will go by when I won’t miss the delightful warmth and wondrous affection for a remote paradise island, and the unmistakable feeling of helping to conserve a minute pocket of utopia.


A gorgeous sunrise across the savannah


If you have a passion for conservation, and want to gain the experience of a lifetime, then please don’t hesitate to join us on our project. For more information about the project please visit our website, or like our facebook page at

We hope to see you soon…