So, this week started off with all of us heading of to Montezuma to work with ASVO on their turtle conservation project. I will say the general vibe about going was a negative one as we all felt quite settled at Jakera and now we are going to a new place for 4 days. But we were all looking forward to seeing some turtles as unfortunately there has been no movement at the ones here in Santa Teresa. When we got there we were greeted by two ladies called Mandi and Nicole who gave us a presentation on what they do there and what plastic does to the oceans ecosystems.
We were all then showed our shift schedule of when we had turtle watches. They were every 3 hours throughout the night, all day every day. There were at least 4 people on each shift. Someone had to be watching the turtles at all times. My first night I had the 6-9pm shift, as we arrived one nested was already hatching! The group before us had been taking the newborn turtles out of the nest and in the box ready to take down to the ocean. Once we thought we had all of them we headed down to the tide line to realise them. We then, whilst wearing gloves took a turtle out one by one and placed it on the sand, we also counted them whilst we did it. We had 85 baby turtles. This was with out a doubt the most magical moment I’ve ever experienced. I cried, I was completely sobbing. I just found it to be such a magical thing. Helping to preserve this species and helping these turtles have a chance in life to survive instead of being killed before they’re born by predators, humans and beach erosion and so many more threats. I don’t think anything could top that night for me.
The next day started off with a organic beach clean up. This is where we move forest debris from the beach and move it to the tree line. When the turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, if they come across and obstacle like a log, they won’t realise they can go around it so they just turn around and head back into the ocean. So I’m actual fact even just logs and big rocks on the beach can prevent a species from breeding. It was a privilege to do this to help in the in reproducing. The negative factor to this day was it was extremely hot! The sand is basically fire. The sand is always fire in the day time.
Later on in the afternoon we did an excavation of two nests. This is when Mandi and Nicole start to dig up the 2 nests that hatched the night before to see if there were any stragglers left behind, the ones who weren’t strong enough to climb out on their own. We had 10 from one nest and 13 from the other. I can tell you know, I was shocked in the amount of tourists that were there waiting for the baby turtles. I would be happy to say at least 40+ people, all waiting with their kids and their cameras. When we eventually reached the tide line after getting through the crowd of tourists we made a square so the tourists could stand on the outside and we could release the turtles without any issues. This was an amazing moment.
On Thursday we did a 45 minute hike to another beach to pick up rubbish. I was shocked by what we saw. The amount of plastic bottles there were was disgusting. We filled 27 bags which is amazing but we did it in 15 minutes. And it looks like we didn’t make a dent. This hit all of us quite hard. But we still felt good to try to make a difference.
On our last day we took a hike to a waterfall it was beautiful. Some people jumped off in the water others sat by the side taking pictures.
This week was amazing for turtles. I can’t wait for the next one!