Show­cas­ing na­ture

En­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists in North Cyprus are host­ing ed­u­ca­tion-based eco-tourism which is pay­ing div­i­dends for small ho­tels and lo­cal restau­rants and for the con­ser­va­tion and im­age of North Cyprus. ANNE CANALP meets ar­guably some of the best tourists any

Cyprus Today - - FRONT PAGE -

A QUAR­TET of sci­en­tists have swapped lab equip­ment for cam­eras and mi­cro­phones to doc­u­ment na­ture con­ser­va­tion work in North Cyprus.

The Univer­sity of Ex­eter bio­science grad­u­ates were in the coun­try re­cently to doc­u­ment the work of col­leagues at the Marine Tur­tle Con­ser­va­tion Project (MTCP) and the North Cyprus So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Birds and Na­ture (Kuşkor).

Their new me­dia start-up, Muddy Duck Pro­duc­tions, went live on­line in March with a Life in Corn­wall series and a #30 Days project to show­case na­ture.

The quar­tet are Billy Heaney, Rob­bie Phillips, Hat­tie Laven­der and Rus­sell Bar­nett, who have pooled sci­en­tific and me­dia skills to launch a new brand of films on con­ser­va­tion and sci­ence, or spice up ex­ist­ing footage with lo­gos and cre­ative graph­ics.

Cyprus To­day caught up with en­thu­si­as­tic nat­u­ral­ist and pre­sen­ter Mr Heaney, who said: “I’m the chat­ter­box of the team!

“I aim to cap­ture view­ers with a fun and cheeky style.

“My fo­cus is marine mam­mals and birds. It’s only the third day [of film­ing] . . . and we’ve al­ready had some great en­coun­ters with green and log­ger­head tur­tles.”

Like many of last year’s 5,000 vis­i­tors to MTCP-man­aged beaches, he was deeply moved by the night-time nest­ing of a green tur­tle as he recorded it for the new film.

“It’s great to be out here work­ing . . . with the re­searchers and all of the fan­tas­tic MTCP vol­un­teers,” he added.

The film project is part­nered by the univer­sity’s ocean and sus­tain­able fu­tures re­search de­part­ment, Ex­eter Marine, and is now in pro­duc­tion back in Corn­wall for even­tual screen­ing at Ala­gadi.

It was also “a priv­i­lege to get up close to such amaz­ing creatures [tur­tles]” for co-founder and busi­ness brain Mr Phillips, a zo­ol­o­gist

and birder. The handy cam­era­man and film ed­i­tor was keen to join MTCP leader Robin Snape on a seabird count dur­ing the trip and to set off at the crack of dawn to record the Ex­eter Uni ver­sity bi­ol­o­gist’s on­go­ing marine by­catch re­search project aboard th Eminem fish­ing boat.

Deter­mined nat­u­ral­ist Ms Laven­der, who over­sees Muddy Duck’s edit­ing and vis­ual ap­peal while “keep­ing the other three in line”, fell in love with North Cyprus moun­tain views and with “Stumpy”, a reg­u­lar green tur­tle nester who lost a flip­per to lines or nets.

“She’s still man­aged to make mul tiple nests this year. I know you shouldn’t have favourites, but some­times it can’t be helped,” she joked.

“It’s been pretty hard go­ing, see­ing the level of plas­tic pol­lu­tion,” com­mented con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gist and ecol­o­gist Mr Bar­nett, adding: “Say no to plas­tic!”

He used his ad­ven­ture, sport and wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy and film-mak­ing skills dur­ing a busy week in the Karpaz and his footage of Ron­nas

will also fea­ture in a marine plas­tic doc­u­men­tary. Pro­tec­tion pro­grammes for the Eu­ro­pean roller, Au­doin’s gull and Bonelli’s ea­gle run by Kuşkor will be cov­ered in a sep­a­rate film.

More on the “Muddy Duck­lings” be­hind the me­dia projects can be found at www.mud­dy­duck­pro­duc­

An un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence Doc­u­ment­ing the world of tur­tles Billy Heaney and a nest­ing green tur­tle A North Cyprus beach full of plas­tic. Right, a close-up photo of the plas­tics. Main photo: Hat­tie Laven­der snapped the beauty of North

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