Have you ever debated whether to take your camera on an adventure, or just to leave it at home and enjoy the moment for what it is, an adventure, taking nothing but memories from it? Well for this outing, cameras were prohibited, but it turned out to be one of the best wildlife spectacles I have witnessed to date, and I am so happy I was able to enjoy it without the distraction of a camera.
Tortuguero – Land of Turtles. Our first stop in Costa Rica, with the potential to show us one of the most amazing events Mother Nature has to offer – sea turtles nesting. It started with a boat trip down the river in pitch black, followed by a walk through the maze of streets and back alleys of Tortuguero.
We had been given a set of instructions for this trip, the main one being to follow the guides' instructions at all times, they are trained and know exactly how to act most ethically in regard to the turtles. We were not allowed any electronic devices, be that phones or cameras, and if anyone in our group was found to be taking photos the whole group had to leave the beach immediately. White light could only be used up until we reached the edge of the beach, and from then on, only red light was to be used. This beach was closed every night during the nesting season from 6pm-6am. It was very clear that the safety of these turtles was number one priority.
Once we got to the beach it was a waiting game, we stood there whilst our eyes became adjusted to the pitch black (it is moments like these where being a pirate with an eyepatch would help!) and within a few minutes shapes started to appear along the beach (unfortunately these were mostly just big pieces of driftwood). We were told that there were spotters placed strategically along the beach - trained personnel who would monitor a turtle as it came from the water and chose a nesting site. Once it had chosen its nesting site and began the process we would be able to approach to a safe distance and watch.
It wasn’t long before we were watching a female burying her eggs in preparation to return to the sea. I admit, it wasn’t something that I had put a great deal of thought into in the past, but female green sea turtles take a good length of time covering up their eggs! We must have been there a good 20/30 minutes watching this exhausted mother burn up her last energy reserves to cover her eggs (despite a lot of the sand she flicked ending up on our legs and feet).
We then witnessed this amazing animal leave her precious eggs and make her journey back to the sea. This was without a doubt my favourite part of the night, just seeing how amazing the natural world really is. To see an animal that could be as heavy as 190kg, haul themselves out of the ocean and all the way up a beach to lay eggs that will only have a 0.1% survival rate and drag themselves all the way back into the ocean is an utterly breath-taking event to witness.
Apologies that this blog is extremely text heavy, but obviously I couldn’t take any pictures as 1) I wasn’t allowed and 2) it was pitch black. However in the daytime we had a wander down the beach and the tracks of the turtles were still there so I managed to capture a still from one of the most amazing events there is in the natural world.
Turtle tracks leading back into the ocean. You can clearly see the flipper marks and the long trail left by the tail.
This blog was mainly to illustrate that you don't have to have a camera in hand and take away photos to appreciate the natural world, see it with your own eyes rather than through a viewfinder for a change!
Thanks for reading,