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
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.muddyduckproductions.co.uk.
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