Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Watching for sea turtles in the moonlight.

 Sea turtle egg laying season isn't until later in the year, and we were told that they came up onto the beach just south of us more often than here, so we were surprised to hear yesterday that turtles had come up onto our beach every night for the last few nights and we had slept through it! There is a family in our little complex who are missionaries for another church --super nice -- and the mom was telling me about it. She said she almost rapped on our door, but felt weird waking us up. Last night Jeff and I decided to watch for turtles. The moonlight on the waves was gorgeous. It almost looked like the water was lit up from inside (maybe bioluminescence? I think it was just the moon..). We took a walk the length of the beach to be sure we didn't miss one already up on the sand, and settled down to wait.
There were men posted at regular intervals with big lights all along the beach. It's illegal here to take the eggs, but our taxi driver one night told us how delicious they are, and how he was sure that the police confiscatin them from people just ate them, and many never hatch anyway, blah blah blah...anyway he said everyone takes them. So horrible. The missionary lady said her children didn't want to watch for turtles anymore because they couldn't stomache watching the people grabbling them in plastic shopping bags after the poor turtle had worked so hard to get up the beach.
Jeff and I talked about what we'd do in that case. I said I'd take pictures with my phone of everyone trying to take them and tell them I wrote "for the internet". Jeff said he'd splay himself on the nest and say "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!". Really, we didn't want to get hurt though...We watched for about an hour and a half and went up to bed.
I got ready for bed, and was just going to lay down, and said "I'm just going to go check one more time". I walked out and saw our grounds guy, and asked him if there were still no turtles. "Si" he said "alli esta". and motioned down the beach. I ran upstairs and got Jeff and the girls. Kai refused to wake up, and was pretty mad he missed it the next day. I tried to wake him!

 The girls were pretty tired, but were good sports. We ran out, and the guy led us over to the mother turtle.

We all watched her, and I took some pictures, feeling really guilty about the flash. It looked so difficult for her to move the sand around with her flippers. They didn't seem made for the job she had to do. When we got there, she was covering up the g
eggs already. The nest was way up into the dry sand, and I'm thinking she must have been there the whole time Jeff and I were watching and we just didn't notice her. It takes a long time to dig the hole. We didn't see any poacher men, and really hoped she had fooled them too. 

 Suddenly she turned and started back to the water. We followed her, cheering her on. She stopped to rest at least three times. Like I said, she seemed so awkward on the sand. I kept hoping for a big rush of water to come help her down.

 Finally she made it and I sighed in relief for her.
 We were so worried for those eggs. We took some time to cover all of her tracks as well as we could.

 Here are the tracks --it almost looks like a tractor tire tread. This morning, the nest looks undisturbed, but maybe the poachers got the eggs before we even came to the nest. I went for a run up the road, and got to La Flor --the turtle refuge where they post guards on the beach. I ran down to the beach and saw a big flock of turkey vultures with a dog. I clapped my hands to scare them away, and saw a hole dug in the sand with two or three dried leathery egg shells strewn nearby.


Meeshab said...

:(. I love turtles. Awesome you got to see her!

belann said...

Wow, what an adventure. So good you got to experience this.

Deja said...

She's much bigger than I imagined. I wish you could save all the turtle eggs. How sad.