Boat Captain and Divemaster Ed Houlcroft talks to us about his conservation experiences and how he established his own project on the tiny island of Little Cayman
After a break of a few weeks, under the spotlight returns with a cracking interview with an old friend of Conservation Guide, Ed Houlcroft. I first met Ed back in 2008 on a marine conservation project on the tiny Fijian island of Gau, west of Viti Levu where he was working as an Assistant Research Officer for a conservation NGO. Ed's passion for diving and the environment helped spark my interest in marine conservation and his current work and pictures still help inspire and enthuse those who are lucky enough to have him as a friend on social media.
Lets see what Ed had to say as he went Under the spotlight...🔦
Ed Houlcroft. My full-time work is as a Divemaster and Boat Captain on Little Cayman, a speck of an island in the Caribbean. In my free-time along with my friend Mike Vallee we set up Green Iguana B'Gonna through our district’s National Trust. We are responsible for initiating an official drive on the island to prevent the highly invasive green iguana from exploding and destroying the flora, fauna and natural beauty of our tiny, island paradise. Now we work in collaboration with the Department of Environment for the Cayman Islands who have joined us in our efforts to make Little Cayman green iguana free.
I’ve loved observing and being immersed in nature for as long as I can remember. Like so many growing up in urban environments, David Attenborough and all those dedicated show makers at the BBC Natural History Unit displayed what was truly out there to cherish and explore. Upon growing up and learning of the difficulties the environment faced, it made sense to help protect what I love.
To change the mindset of the global society. We know what problems we are creating for ourselves and the environment, we have done for decades. There is little focus on why we continue to behave as we do with all the lessons we have learnt. Over-fishing, pollution, plastics, habitat destruction etc. all needs to be addressed. The root of why we aren’t doing enough already in the face of so many lessons is human behaviour. Tackle the root of the problem and the solutions will be followed.
When it comes to beliefs and principles some people lie at the extremes of either end.. Not everyone can be convinced to change their mind, so the dilution effect is an option. Spread enough of a voice and drive to protect the environment through all levels of society. Those against will be in such a minority that their impact will diffuse away and though heard, will not have a significant effect.
So many memorable moments, but one that resonates the most is seeing sea turtles nesting whilst working as a Research Assistant for what is now Sea Turtle Conservancy. On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, working only with the dim-light from the night sky and faint glow of our red headtorches; I spent 3 months collecting data on those beaches. Enclosed in the silky feeling of the warm, humid air. Surrounded by the sounds of the steady waves crashing on one side, vibrant calls in the jungle that rang out to the other. It was a real connection to a moment in natural history so old you felt you could have stepped out of a time machine.
Seeing the risk the females took, the energy they put in and the dedication to do a perfect job. For such a big creature to be so delicate and so precise in her actions was a marvel to witness. After 2 ½ long hours the feeling of exhilaration upon seeing them head so utterly exhausted, but mission complete, back to those crashing waves. To have the surge lap around them and immediately lift their spirits. A final heave and one great hand from a supporting wave, the sea would draw them back into their domain once more. The turtle’s outline suddenly disappearing, maybe never to be seen by human eyes again... That was an incredible experience. That is something everyone should get the chance to see.
My role models are the everyday people who put the effort into their day-to-day lives to make a difference for the benefit of our planet, no matter how small it seems. I travel, I work on the sea, I buy plastics, I eat foods from far away. I have an impact. So they remind me to tweak were I can, to be a little better when I get the chance. That together we can succeed.
Check out the amazing work that Ed and the Green Iguana B'Gonna team carry out on Little Cayman, Caribbean.
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