Turtle Power

Sat, Nov 13, 2010

General, International, Outdoors

Turtle Power

It was one of the peak lunar weekends for observing nesting Olive Ridley turtles, and we were lucky to be invited along with our literacy program directors and other volunteers to head a few hours south of our little town to the famous Ostional surfing and turtle nesting beach.

Mama turtle tracks in the sand.

The beach is black volcanic sand. We learned that mama turtles love this sand’s warmth and texture for laying eggs. We also learned that the turtles need protection, especially since the mothers are in a sort of trance while laying eggs.

We walked the beach in the late afternoon, close to sunset, and returned the next morning well before sunrise in order to catch a glimpse of a female turtle making her nest.

Luck wasn’t on our side, though. We had a terrific sunset and beautiful views, and a dramatic sunrise and more beautiful views, but the only adult turtles we got to see were dead ones whose bodies were being picked clean by groups of black vultures.

An adult Olive Ridley turtle skull, picked clean by vultures

Vultures and stray dogs attacked every nest and feasted on the vulnerable, endangered baby turtles. It was disgusting. Nature, sure, but disgusting. These turtles are endangered, and yet the local community appears not to be concerned about the packs of strays roaming the beach.

Hey, Fido----leave those baby turtles alone! You too, Hitchcock!

The beach was a festival of vultures on the sand, digging in turtle nests, and hanging out in nearby trees.

We know where they'll go to film the Costa Rican remake of "The Birds."

It was hard to explain to the boys that this was an example of nature’s food chain. Seeing the one baby turtle, who was so helpless and wounded, made all of us really sad. We released the wounded baby into the ocean, but none of us believed he’d make it.

One Response to “Turtle Power”

  1. Stacy Says:

    Ahh. It still makes me sad to see the little guy!


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