Turtle Blog Post

Greetings families and friends!

Since the last blog post our group has spent five days volunteering with the organization Kuemar located in the Guanacaste region on the pacific side of Costa Rica. The project is focused on helping the sea turtles that reside within the ocean water lining the beaches of Playa Nombre de Jesus, Playa Real, and Playa Onda. Thursday afternoon we arrived and settled into some of our last bunk beds of the trip! The housing was only about a 4 minute walk from the gorgeous beaches which we spent lots of our time on.. days & nights. The week was all things turtles and kicked off on Thursday night when we first started our night time patrols. Our work was split up into three shifts. 8:00pm-12:00am was the first, 12:00am-4:00am the second, and if you were lucky you could snag the morning shift at 5:15am or 6:15am. We headed out in groups of three, each occupying a designated beach. We were always accompanied by one of the Kuemar staff. We had a great time getting to know and working with Pablo, Karen, Carol, Alvaro, Rosa, and Mauricio who were each delightful and shared their passion and knowledge of the turtles with us.

A typical night would start with outfitting in all dark clothes to not disturb the turtles, strapping on our headlamps (red light feature only), and saying goodnight to some people who may be arriving back from a shift or to some trying to catch some Zzz’s before theirs started. Then, we would head down to the beaches. We would begin by walking up and down the beaches looking for turtle tracks in the sand. The Momma turtles mission is to come onto the beach, find a comfortable spot in the sand, dig a nest with her back flippers, lay her eggs, fill the nest again, and then return back to the ocean perhaps maybe to snack on a jellyfish. However, the population of sea turtles is suffering from an assortment of threats. For example, poachers and animals like raccoons that may eat their eggs. Our mission was to find the turtles on the beach so we could take stats on them and move their eggs to a safer location. Once we spotted a turtle we would approach and begin to measure the turtle, determine the specie (we saw Negras, Loras, and a Baula), and perhaps implement a tracking device. Once the Mom began laying the eggs we would collect them from the nest and transfer them temporarily to a plastic bag. We cheered on the turtle until she was done and then walked to find a safer spot to relocate the freshly laid eggs (about 70-130 eggs depending on the species). We learned how to properly dig a nest (easier said then done), then covered up and camouflaged the nest as if nothing had been there ensuring that the eggs were as safe as they could be. Then, we would continue along the beach until we saw another turtle and do it all again!

During our days we ate some delicious food, hung out at the beach, read, and napped. Although a bit sleep deprived, I think we can all agree that the opportunity to work with the turtles under an incredible umbrella of stars every night was worth it.

Today we landed in Roatan! There is an overall excitement about the next 6 days here.. Beautiful rooms with hammocks overlooking a bay, clear blue water, relaxation, and scuba certification! However, all of this paired with a bittersweet reality that this is our last week together.. We keep reminding ourselves to enjoy the present moment… Knowing if this last week is like the past three months it will go oh too quickly..

It’s time for the last weekly group meeting… beach side.

Lots of love,