Monday, September 24, 2012

Turtle Tales

I have done a lot of conservation projects in my time but for me the Marine Turtle Monitoring program was sensational and endlessly educational and interesting.  We were fully involved in the practical aspects of turtles in the nesting process.  The aim of the project is to track the activities of turtles but it is much more than walking the beach with a clipboard.   
Here, under the guidance of exceptionally professional staff dedicated to the cause, we got hands on experience as they worked with us and taught us the essentials for working with turtles and thus gaining practical data for further analysis.  

The core of the projects ongoing success was, in my view, the staff and the interns who all aim to work in harmony with each other and volunteers like myself, to the extent we virtually work as one in the interests of the project.  I was particularly impressed with the leadership and the varying high level skill sets of staff helping us in all ways.  It was refreshing also to see an absence of egos which made it all very comfortable for us to work at our best.
 On the project we were given many objectives to take on various tasks.   I never imagined lying with a turtle at its nest in the dark and then counting the eggs as they fell into my hand.  Wow, what an experience!   
Other exciting activities included measuring the turtles even though most don´t stay still which can make it tricky.  They are also tagged, health checked and the locations of their nests marked. 
Alongside all these activities of course we are part of the life of the turtle and can be fortunate also to see the hatchlings in the nest or see them running towards the sea.   We´ve all seen it on TV but to see them live going into the Caribbean Sea is something I will never forget.

Living here has been excellent.  Sure the cute wooden cabins are not 5 star and we sleep in a mosquito net surround but hey, as you lie in the darkness you hear the sound of the nearby Caribbean Sea and on those rainy nights you fall asleep to the music of raindrops on the iron roofs.   In the twilight hours and morning light you hear the birdsong as we are set in a surround of beach and jungle.  
It is course unbelievable the experiences I had when boating through the jungle along canals and streams into breathtaking vistas, birdsong and bird activities on the waterways.  
Other breathtaking experiences like seeing monkeys, armadillos and maybe even jaguars plus other creatures make Costa Rica a great place to be.  For me, working for a great cause gives me a strong purpose to return one day.

- Graham, two-week turtle volunteer