Monday, October 18, 2010

Saving lifes during jag walk

The first jag walk of the phase…a memorable experience for all involved, and a day that none of us will ever forget.
Molly and volunteers Melissa, Simon, Adam and Harriet left base at 5am to embark on the 15 mile trek along the beach to the town of Tortuguero. The purpose of the survey was to collect data on predated turtles and gauge Jaguar activity on the beach. These main objectives were however abruptly sidetracked when, after 10.5 miles of the walk, the team came across a turtle lying on her back in the vegetation. At first glance she looked to be a fresh kill, however upon closer inspection the team were thrilled to find that she was in fact still alive and breathing. Without hesitation the team went to work, clearing the logs and debris partially covering the turtle and putting in a monster effort to flip her back upright. The team then watched in awe and amazement as the turtle that a few minutes ago appeared dead or at best dying now powerfully propelled its giant carapace along the sand back to the sea. This left the team jubilant and relieved to have not only seen one of these beautiful creatures alive and in full daylight but to have directly foiled the actions of poachers, who would probably have come back the next night to pick up their illegal catch. At that time the team had no idea that over the next mile there would be a further 19 turtles also in dire straits, left at the mercy of the vultures to wilt and die in the hot sun. Thus the team abandoned surveying and spent the next hour saving turtles in a similar fashion. This stretched out the walk time to around 11 and a half hours, and after a quick cold drink and debrief in Tortuguero, the team were treated to a fittingly beautiful canal sunset ride home, adrenaline still surging through their bodies from a truly fulfilling day of being true wildlife warriors.
These encounters and the subsequent actions of the team highlight the importance of GVI’s presence along this section of national park, with 28 dead turtles documented before surverying was abandoned, and a total of 20 adult sea turtles swimming around the Caribbean, free to roam and reproduce as a direct result of the jag team’s efforts. Pura Vida.
Adam van Opzeeland (5 week volunteer) and Melissa Errington (6 month Intern)