Green turtles, big and small....oh my !!!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mom and I flew to Tortugero to watch the Green Turtles lay eggs/hatch at the National Park. The entire process was amazing and is one that I will never forget.

The process starts with a lottery (for us, not the turtles), all of which is controlled by the Conservation Authority. We drew 10pm-12am and a specific location. This helps control the disturbance and keeps the process protected. 

After walking through the park (at dark) for 15 mins, we arrived at the ranger station. From here we walked and were gently eaten by mosquitoes. I say gently, because I was expecting the worse and I was pleasantly surprised. 

The spotters , "spot" the turtles and radio the location and birthing stages to the rangers. At this point, we waited for stage 3 "birth" before entering the beach. The process has 5 steps:
 
1. Getting out of the sea (they are picky, and easily scared)
2 Digging a nest
3.Birth
4.Covering
5.Returning to the sea.

We can only watch 3-5, as the turtles are timid and activity on the beach will send them back into the sea.

Our guide walked is carefully through the dark, towards a medium sized Green turtle (3-4 mts long). By the time we arrived, she had already filled half of her nest with eggs. For 10 mins we watched her lay the remaining eggs (100 on average).

After laying her eggs, she began to tightly pack down her nest. This process can take up to 45 mins, then she begins to camouflage the nest with her front flippers. I don't recommend standing directly behind her at this stage, as you will get a face full of sand (as we did). Part of me can't blame her....I'd do the same thing if I was put in her situation. What woman wants a bunch of tourists watching her give birth???

The entire process take 2-3 hours. That evening we watched several turtles beach and shy away. Along with 2 new Mom's return to the sea. It was an amazing!!

The following morning, we retuned to the National park and watched several dozen baby green turtles run into the sea. The incubation process is 2 months, therefore these babies were layed in July. The group had several strong and determined turtles. Sadly, they also had weak ones. On average, 1% of all eggs survive to adulthood.

 


 
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