Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mythical Beast Sighted In Jalova!

Over the years, I have walked many a mile, shed litres of sweat and fallen foul of many a tropical thunderstorm in search of sea turtles, and I love it! I have had the privilege to work with many a Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback, but there has been one species that continued to elude me… that is until now...

It had become a creature of mythology. A turtle with a head so large there is no conceivable way of mistaking it for any other; A turtle with flippers so small that it should not be possible for it to crawl up the beach. Given that this animal nests rarely and sporadically on our beach, I had pretty much resigned myself to never encountering one. Needless to say when I woke up the other morning to hear that the night survey team had briefly encountered a female returning to sea, I was riddled with jealousy! But something gave me hope; she had to come back at some point surely...

The following night I was again off the night survey team but I decided to stay awake a little later than usual… you know, just in case! I was chatting in the kitchen with a few of the volunteers, when the phone rang. It was Benji, who was leading the patrol, and all I can remember him saying was “We are working a LOGGERHEAD!” She was back! I was not going to miss this chance. I grabbed all the necessary items, rounded up those who were awake (even our illustrious country director threw himself out of bed when he heard the commotion!) and powered my way down the beach.

As we grew a little closer to the red lights of the team, I have to admit I felt a little nervous. What if she wasn’t as amazing as I have heard? I’ve built it up for so long now, she could only disappoint, right? Wrong!! This thing was awesome… Her head was huge and her flippers really were disproportionately small; It seemed impossible for her to make her way back down the beach, but she managed it, and in a style reminiscent of an army crawl!

It was an incredible experience! Even for someone who has seen a lot of turtles, it stands out a mile. I can’t believe I have finally seen a loggerhead… and I am still smiling about the fact!

James, Field Coordinator