243. Leatherback Sea Turtle.
This year has been filled with many many joyous moments and occasions. Small moments of happiness and times of total excitement. And looking back at all the things I’ve accomplished and experienced this year, I can easily say, that on December 26th I saw the MOST incredible thing I had ever seen before. At 6pm Tamara, Amy and I boarded a boat to take us to Playa Grande where the Leatherback Sea Tortuga come to lay their eggs. We were given some background information about the tortugas and were told that there might be a chance that no turtles would come to lay eggs that night. I had a feeling though, this hopeful good feeling that we would see one, as it was our last night in Tamarindo and we could not come back the following day. The tour guides walkie talkies went off about 15 mins after arriving at Playa Grande and we were told that a mother turtle had arrived on the beach. We were off. We had to walk in silence and we had to walk in darkness. The guides used infa-red lights to indicate where she was on the beach and we walked as quickly as we could. When we approached the area she had chosen a spot to clear for her nest and was beginning to dig. We were taken in small groups to stand behind her and watch. It was difficult to see until I was taken right up behind the giant animal and literally – she took my breath away! I had a small gasp, clutched my mouth, and was stunned by her enormous size and beauty. I watched as she dug a deep hole with her back flippers and began to lay her eggs. They say she is in a trance of some kind when she begins this process and is only focused on her job of delivering her eggs. She is a strong, proud female doing her natural work of continuing the species. Words do not really work to describe this scene. It was breathtaking, watching nature, something that is so simple but so beautiful and has happened for centuries and will continue to happen if we as humans do not interfere. When she had finished laying her eggs she pushed the sand overtop of the nest and seemed to do a small dance to pack down the loose sand. We knew she was finished when she used her front flippers to start turning around. She flicked the sand so hard in an attempt to begin her decent back into the ocean. We were instructed that it was time for us to leave. I walked away feeling as thought I had just witnessed one of the most spectacular things I had ever seen. Standing on the beach with a million bright stars in the sky I walked back arm in arm with my friends knowing that we had experienced something profound. It was humbling to be a witness of a life cycle of such a powerful and glorious creature.