Turtles of Trinidad (Part 2) with Ainslie

This is the second (and the last) in this series of the turtles in Trinidad, and it will explore the second project that focuses on the species.

Ainslie Mackenzie is on the fundraising team for the expedition and she is also leading a marine turtle project.


  1. Why do you want to go to Trinidad?

I think it will be an amazing experience to gain field training in the tropics with so many different species as well as learning a lot of new skills from the Geography project.

  1. What are you most looking forward to?

Probably getting to see turtles up close and to see the turtles hatching.

  1. What are you least looking forward to?

The humid heat- very sweaty!

  1. What is your project about?

My project will be focused on Leatherback turtles. I will be collecting egg temperatures from the female turtles as they are laying. This gives an indication of their core body temperature and combined with the data from the past five years, we can see if they have been affected by any environmental changes. I will also be putting temperature loggers into the turtle nests to see what temperature the eggs are being incubated at. I hope this will be continued in years to come so that we can see whether factors like climate change have an effect on the incubation.

  1. Why are you interested in this? What are the benefits of your research?

I think it is very interesting to see whether climate change is currently having an effect on turtles in Trinidad and building up a dataset like this could be valuable to look back on for comparison in years to come. Turtles also have temperature determined gender so if the incubation is too warm, it could be almost entirely females which hatch. This would be bad news for turtle reproduction in the future and with data like this, it might be possible to predict whether this will be an issue or not in Trinidad.

Trinidad is an ideal spot to study marine turtle nests as the island’s coasts are the primary nesting sites of five out of the seven species globally.  Thus, the island plays a crucial role in preserving the threatened species. Studying environmental change here, particular mean surface temperature increase, will give us more of an insight into the problems that turtle populations are facing. Concern for these animals is so great that the conservation efforts that are being undertaken in Trinidad were featured on the BBC’s Blue Plant 2 with David Attenborough.

We hope that our research will benefit Leatherback turtles in Trinidad and we will also be taking part in beach clean-ups to help rid the coast of plastic pollution. If this is something that interests you, there are many ways you can get involved and make a difference:

  • Check out the previous blog post on the first Leatherback turtle project: Turtles in Trinidad (Part 1) with Louise
  • Follow this blog and keep up to date with our social media pages:
  • Donate to our gofundme page! This one is particularly important as we are heading out to Trinidad in less that 2 months. Any donation you can afford, would be much appreciated as every little helps, and as an incentive, we offer some cool gifts as a thank you if you donate over £5.

Thank you for reading!

Natural Hazards of Trinidad


Jessica Melrose is this year’s expedition leader and she is returning to Trinidad for a second time to do her dissertation research. Last year, Jessica helped with various things including a geography project that focused on the waste management of the island.

  1. Why do you want to go to Trinidad?

It was an amazing experience last summer, it forces you to broaden your horizons by being open minded, to take risks, develop new skills, be inquisitive about your surroundings and amerce yourself in the local culture. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to return this time to carry out a different geography project.

  1. What are you most looking forward to?

Trinidadian food and jungle dinners.

  1. What are you least looking forward to?

Long car journeys and being car sick.

  1. What is your project about?

I will be leading the Geography project as part of the data collection will be contributed towards my dissertation. My project is going to focus on how the population of Trinidad perceives each of the different hazards associated with the island, as well as investigating how vulnerable different communities are based on their geographical location. I will be investigating Trinidadians view and opinions on the environmental hazards they have been directly affected by through carrying out surveys and interviews.  Otherwise I will be helping out on the other zoological projects.

  1. Why are you interested in this?

Due to how relevant this topic is to Trinidad since scientists are predicting more environmental hazards are going to be hitting Trinidad with the change in climate. I have always been interested in environmental hazards, as we have not way to fully protect ourselves from the occurrence of natural processes of the Earth, especially with tectonic related events that are unpredictable.  It really interests me that we do not know when the next plate boundaries are going to shift that would cause an earthquake to occur. How do we react to these natural events? Is there really a correct way to respond? Will our society develop to the point in which environmental hazards are no longer classed as disasters (no loss of life)?

As Jessica said above, an increase in environmental hazards has been predicted as a consequence of climate change. Trinidad is affected by various hazards due to the island’s geographical location. Situated just above the equator, in the tropics, it is exposed to tropical storms that can become an issue during the rain season between June – November. Additionally, the area is geologically active as the Central Range fault line runs through the heart of the island and some have expressed concern that the fault may be capable of causing an earthquake. Trinidad is also nearby ‘Kick ’em Jenny’ – an active volcano close to Grenada – which is monitored by the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre on the Trinidad campus.

It is hoped that Jessica’s research may provide us with a better understanding of the environmental hazards affecting Trinidad.

If you wish to support this research, along with many other projects, please donate to our gofundme:  https://www.gofundme.com/uofg-trinidad-expedition-2018

Make sure to keep up with this blog in order to learn about the projects and our fundraising efforts!




What we’ve been up to so far (a summary)

Hey everyone,

This blog post will be about the fundraising events that we have hosted so far, including pictures taken from our other social media pages, and about our future plans.

We have all been working hard in order to reach our fundraising goal for us to be able to stay, live and research on the island of Trinidad for 10 weeks.

First off, we had our 90s themed pub quiz at Coopers that drew in big crowds.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Most of the team made it into this fancy team picture

After Christmas break, we started semester 2 off with a bang by hosting a bingo night and a raffle at Coopers.

bingo night

We have been really lucky as the prizes that we have for our events have been donated  to us by some generous people and companies.

In between these events, we have also been bucket shaking at concerts and football and rugby matches around Glasgow and Edinburgh to raise extra cash.

Me (Erin), Rachel, Jessica and Freya

We have organised a bake sale outside of the Glasgow University’s Queen Margaret Union with baked treats made and served by the team members.

Emma, Rachel and Jude serving some treats

Most recently, we organised a Race Night at the Record Factory with horses to be bought and bet on, and many prizes to be won. This night has been our most successful yet with an amazing turn out and a good amount of money raised.



Jessica, Stephen and Me


And we’re planning many more that will be announce

d in due course!

This Saturday we will be walking 17km along the Kelvin Walkway in fancy dress and we have created a gofundme page to take donations for it:

As always, all funds go towards our trip and the environmental research that will be undertaken during it.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more project info that will be coming out later this week!



Turtles in Trinidad (Part 1) with Louise

Hey everyone! This blog is going to be running a series a short posts about the individual team members and their projects.

Let’s begin with Louise Mcmurtrie (23) who went on a similar expedition to Trinidad back in 2015. This time she is on the fundraising team and she will be carrying out her own zoology dissertation work on the trip.


  1. Why do you want to go back to Trinidad?

I would love to do my honours project and I am keen to gain a better understanding of field and conservation work. This time I would also like to learn more about the island and its’ people.

  1. What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to working with the wildlife that the island has to offer. I also look forward to getting work with the turtle’s village trust who have the best knowledge of the leatherback turtles for my project.

  1. What are you least looking forward to?

I’m not looking forward to the mosquitoes as last time I was bitten very badly on the feet but that can be saved by wrapping up more when out in the field.

  1. What is your project about?

I will be leading one of the turtle projects in which I will be investigating whether body mass decreases over nesting season in leatherback turtles. Additionally, I will be researching if the turtle nests decrease over the summer due to body mass and energy loss.

  1. Why are you interested in this?

I’m keen to understand the turtles better on the island as they are being more endangered as the years go on. Doing a project on them may give us a better understanding of the potential reasons for this.

Trinidad is a unique place to carry out a project like this as it is home to many leatherback turtle nesting sites. The species is severely threatened by climate change as increasing temperature could cause an gender imbalance as the female population would rise as the temperature does (due to temperature designating gender), and the changing ocean currents could impact migration and hunting (Earthwatch Institute, 2017).

Louise isn’t the only one who will be leading a turtle project on this expedition. Be sure to follow this ‘Turtles in Trinidad’ series as more projects and their leaders will be introduced in the coming weeks. After this, the other projects that focus on bats, geography, lizards and frogs will be coming soon – each following the same format as this.

Remember to also keep updated with our expedition and fundraising events on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TrinidadExpedition2018/

And please donate to us! https://www.gofundme.com/uofg-trinidad-expedition-2018

We’re actually running a competition on our GoFundMe page. So please check it out, read the information about it, and donate in order to win a goody! As always, all funds go directly towards this expedition and the environmental research efforts.


New Team Members!

Since our last post, we have gained three new team members – from the University of Edinburgh – who will be joining us on the Trinidad Expedition.

Here is a little bit about them and their projects for the Trinidad Expedition:

25520075_10210410685965608_579174918_nGreig Muir (20)
“I am a 3rd year Zoology student at the University of Edinburgh. This will be my first expedition and I am looking forward to immersing myself in the diverse Trinidadian wildlife. Whilst in Trinidad I will be conducting my honours project on Amphibian Behavioural Syndromes, better known as animal personalities. I am excited about assisting in the various other projects going on over the summer, particularly the Bat and Turtle research. I hope to put teaching skills gained over 9 years of coaching rugby to P4-7 to use in the education aspects of the expedition.”

25564836_10159825042395553_1788417859_nCammy Beyts
“I am a first year PhD student from the University of Edinburgh. This will be my first time joining the Trinidad expedition and I am excited to start work on my own research project as well as getting stuck in with some of the other Zoology and Geography projects whilst I am out there.  My current research is focused on the causes and consequences of personality in frogs and in particular how diet can affect an individual’s behaviour over the course of their lifespan.  Whilst in Trinidad I will be incorporating Trinidad frog species into my research in order to look at species which would not otherwise be accessible within the UK.  In doing so I hope to add more species diversity to our understanding of animal personality.”

Toby Dighero (20)
“I’m a third year Zoology student at the University of Edinburgh. This is my first year coming on the Trinidad expedition and I am excited to join the Glasgow group heading out there. I will be working on a project on amphibian behavioural syndromes, which will form the basis of my Honours project. I enjoy being outdoors more than anything and have done a large amount of hiking in many countries and recently cycled from Berlin to London. I cannot wait to experience Trinidad and a new continent and culture, and am also very excited to get involved in all the projects going on.”

And that’s it!

We head out to Trinidad this summer – in about six months – and we are all very excited to carry out our zoology and and geography projects. Since returning back to university for the new year, we have started hosting and planning fundraising events in order for us to reach our budget. If you would like to find out more about the expedition, please follow the below links.

Here are the expedition’s social media pages and donation page!

To donate: https://www.gofundme.com/uofg-trinidad-expedition-2018

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrinidadExpedition2018/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uofgtrinidadexp/?hl=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UofGTrinidadExp







Meet the team!

Meet the University of Glasgow’s Trinidad Expedition team for 2018!

We are a group of students getting ready to embark on a summer-long research trip to Trinidad that is hosted through the University of Glasgow’s Exploration Society. This exploration will involve various environmental projects, including work in wildlife conservation. The projects will be focusing on turtles, frogs, bats, and particular physical hazards that impact the island.

This is our first post on the blog, and we have decided to dedicate it to introducing the new team.

Here is a little bit about us and our roles in the team!

Jessica Melrose (21), Team Leader

IMG_8335“I’m a third-year geography student and I was on the expedition last year working on the geography project. This year I plan to continue past research further for my Honours project investigating the perception and vulnerability of the population to environmental hazards. I have carried out geography fieldwork projects in Singapore and Chang Mai, Thailand. In addition to this, I have also undertaken some turtle conservation work in Malaysia. Growing up in Singapore volunteering was an integral part of social responsibility, from building houses in Cambodia and a road for an orphanage in Malaysia to teaching English in India and Cambodia. I can’t wait to be back in ‘Trini’ to experience more of the culture, to get involved with the zoology projects and to give back to the local communities.”

Freya Pellie (21), Secretary

freya“I’m a third-year zoology student and this is my first expedition with the university. I’m really excited for the opportunity to experience a diverse range of wild animal species I’ve never encountered before, as well as a whole new culture! Whilst in Trinidad I’m hoping to investigate organic pollutant levels in leather-back turtle eggs, which may offer further insight into the low rates of hatching success in this species. I have done quite a bit of youth work through long term involvement in a children’s summer camp and two social circus projects and so I’m also really keen to utilise the skills I’ve learnt from these ventures to help with the education project.”

Emily Hutton (23), Treasurer


“I’m a third-year zoology student. This is my first time travelling to Trinidad with the Exploration Society and I’m excited to experience the amazing nature and culture that exists there. While on the expedition I’ll be carrying out my honours project on species of frogs native to Trinidad and I’m looking forward to learning a lot about many of the different species of frogs and other animals living on the island. I have had some experience with conservation in larger mammals in places like South Africa but have never had the chance to experience anything like the nature in Trinidad. I’m looking forward to spending next summer with the rest of the team doing dedicated and rewarding work and experiencing everything that Trinidad has to offer!”

Rachel Mosley (19), Treasurer


“I am a second-year Zoology student, and this will be my first time on an expedition. I have never been to the Caribbean before and I am excited for this new experience. I have always been passionate about wildlife and I am looking forward to studying bats, frogs and turtles while on the expedition, as this will be invaluable experience for my future. I have previously been involved with Scottish wildlife rescue groups and I hope this will stand me in good stead for this expedition. I am also very interested in the environmental hazards project, as I live along the coast and would love to see how coastal landscapes differ and what this means for the people there.”


Ainslie Mackenzie (21), Fundraising


“I am a third-year zoology student, and this will be my first expedition with the University of Glasgow, which I am very excited about. I am planning to carry out research for my honours project on sea turtles whilst in Trinidad. I’ve always known that I have wanted to work with animals and I am now most interested in conservation and climate change. I have spent the previous summer in South Africa completing a conservation internship, helping with ongoing studies into white rhino behaviour and elephant feeding habits. I am very interested and excited to be going to a different part of the world and seeing a whole new variety of wildlife as well as helping with the geography project and I can’t wait to start my research and help the others with theirs.”

Jessica Young (19), Fundraising


“I’m a second-year zoology student from Dunblane and this is my first expedition with the University of Glasgow. I’m very much looking forward to the expedition in June and getting stuck in with the bat, turtle, amphibian and geography projects. I’m eager to learn not only about Trinidad’s wildlife and environment but also its people and culture. This summer I had my first experience of field work when I volunteered with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. I recently gained my PADI Open Water diving qualification, so I’m interested in discovering more about Trinidad’s marine life when I’m not helping with the other projects. Finally, I’m also excited to get to know my team and the people we’ll be working with in Trinidad.”

Louise McMurtrie (23), Fundraising


“I’m a third-year zoology student hoping to do my honour project out in Trinidad this year. I’m a keen animal lover and hope to do work that will help lead to a career in conservation work. I’ve had the great luck of visiting the island before, working with frogs and turtles, and I hope to add to that in this year’s trip. In the past, I’ve helped out with frog life a couple of times, teaching people about the important of nature and frogs. I’m keen to get more field work under my belt and learn more about the geology projects taking place on the trip. I love to meet new people and learn about their cultures so going back is great way to learn more.”

Jude Wilson (19), Fundraising

24252023_1590295554370008_1040504268_n“I’m a second-year zoology student and I have never been on an expedition before but I’m excited to gain experience. This opportunity will allow me to learn new field skills which I will be able to apply to a career after university. I’m looking forward to experiencing the diverse range of species and habitats Trinidad has to offer, along with the unique culture. I’m extremely interested in the species that are being researched and I’m excited to help out with all the projects running this year, especially those focused on the turtles in Trinidad. I’m also looking forward to helping out with the geography project being performed this year.”


Eugenio Carlon (18), Grant Applications


“I’m first-year Zoology student at the University of Glasgow, and will be participating in the Trinidad Expedition of 2018. My interests and passions lie, amongst a multitude of different things, in animal biology and environmental and species conservation. Fuelled by the love for the Caribbean’s flora and fauna, and by the words of Konrad Lorenz and Steve Irwin (in cooperation with R. Kipling and J. London), I cannot wait to be working on the field. My experience consists in working as a volunteer in a project on nightingales (Cervia, Italy) as well constructing and writing up my own project on snails, for my IB Extended Essay. I’ve also volunteered for LIBERA, an anti-mafia organisation based in Italy. Furthermore, I’ve also gained experience in animal handling through dogs and hamsters.”

Emma Plant (20), Grant Applications


“I’m a second-year zoology student at the University of Glasgow. My passion for animals and conservation is my main reason for going on the Trinidad expedition. This will be my first expedition and I’m looking forward to gaining valuable experience in field work and seeing the diverse range of animals Trinidad has to offer. I’m also very excited to help out with the geography project, looking at the effects of hazards such as tsunamis and earthquakes. In the future I’m planning to work in conservation so the opportunity to work with vulnerable leather back turtles in Trinidad is very exciting.”





Stephen Smith (20), Grant Applications

Stephen (right)

“I’m a third-year anatomy student and this will be my first trip to Trinidad. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the world and getting a chance to photograph an entirely different ecosystem than the one I’m accustomed to in Scotland. I have an avid interest in environmental change as well as tropical wildlife, so will be assisting with both the animal and geographical projects being run this year. I am particularly excited as this is my first trip to the Caribbean and I’m looking forward to experiencing a new culture.”

Gregor McAdam (18), Media

24115473_1354531101324608_1550580560_o“I’m a first-year zoology student and I have never taken part in an expedition before. I’m passionate about animals and can’t wait to go to Trinidad as I have never been to the Caribbean and this will also be the furthest I have ever been from home. I’m also looking forward to doing some practical zoology in the field, working with bats, tree frogs and sea turtles. I’m looking forward to finding out more about these fascinating animals.”

Erin Fowler (19), Media

sdr“I’m a second-year geography student and this will be my first ever expedition. As a keen student geographer, I volunteer as part of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and I’m the sub-editor of their magazine the ‘Young Geographer’. I’m also the second-year representative for the university’s own Geography Society. After living in Spain for one month over the summer where I worked on an eco-project, I’m looking forward to return to a hotter environment. I’m particularly excited to research physical hazards within the island and to take part in conservation work with turtles, frogs and bats.”

And that’s us!

We’re all extremely excited to stay in Trinidad for the summer and we have already started fundraising for our expedition. We hosted a successful 90s themed pub quiz and we’re planning many more fun events in the coming new year. In the meantime, please support our expedition by donating to our gofundme page and by following our social media.

Donate to our expedition via gofundme:

Follow our expedition on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrinidadExpedition2018/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uofgtrinidadexp/?hl=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UofGTrinidadExp

And subscribe to this blog to keep informed about our projects and other things related to the expedition!

Thank you!