Exploring Cousin Island

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As a kid I’ve always dreamed of seeing a sea turtle in the wild. As exciting as this was to me I never thought in my wildest dreams it would ever come true. Living up in the mountains of Southern Idaho literally placed me thousands of miles away from any wild sea turtles. The opportunity to not only see a wild sea turtle but to watch it nest had to have been the most rewarding experience from the visiting Seychelles. Take a look as I share with you some of my favorite memories exploring Cousin Island…

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Cousin Island is a small island in the Seychelles located 2km from Praslin. The island was the world’s first internationally owned reserve that is now home to several endangered bird and reptile species. It is also the most important nesting site for the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle in the Western Indian Ocean.
Photo credit: Martin Harvey
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Because the island is home to many endangered endemic species, any spread of invasive animals like rats, cats, or dogs could be extremely detrimental. To prevent invasives from entering Cousin, they require guests to take a separate smaller boat to the island.

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Upon arrival the very first guest in line was none other than a wild Aldabra Tortoise! Cousin is home to 28-30 wild tortoises that live a no barrier life in complete luxury.

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Cousin is owned by Birdlife International: An organization dedicated to saving and preserving habitat for endangered birds. This is a Fairy Tern. They can be found all over the island and like all the wildlife here have no reason to fear man. The most interesting fact I found out about these birds is that they do not build a nest. Instead the female will lay a single egg on a branch and sit on it to prevent it from falling. Incredible!!!

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Cousin is home to several species of skink including this Wright’s Skink. The most shocking fact I found out was that Cousin has the highest lizard density per hectare in the world!

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I know what you are thinking…another tortoise picture! I just could not get enough of these gentle giants. It was so surreal to see these animals walking around the beach.

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Here is perfect example of how an invasive species like this Cinnamon Tree can have detrimental effects on local wildlife. The Cinnamon Tree disperses sticky seeds that cling to almost anything including bird feathers.

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Unfortunately baby birds learning how to fly have almost no chance if they encounter an area filled with these seeds. The seeds weigh these birds down and inevitably suffocate them.

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This was the site we had all hoped for: seeing a sea turtle! Our guide explained that it was our lucky day. Usually these massive reptiles nest at night. They can lay up to 150 eggs in a nest they dig with their hind legs. You are looking at a Hawksbill Sea Turtle who prefer to nest in the forest whereas the more common Green Sea Turtle prefers the beaches.

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You can just see the excitement in my face! I was even lucky enough to get footage of her digging a nest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecBtH2cYPqA
If you want more information about Cousin Island please visit this link http://www.natureseychelles.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=51
Thanks for checking in! Come back soon as I wrap up my adventures in the Seychelles! ~ C