Mother Nature at work
Last night was magical. I had planned on surfing until sunset, the swell had filled in and the conditions were perfect. However, when Mother Nature wants to show off, you do not pass up the opportunity to witness it. As I was putting on the usual overhaul of zinc oxide on my nose, my friend hung up her cellphone and let me know that the turtles were here. The turtles are here? Yes! There are thousands laying their eggs on the beach, thirty minutes North of Nosara.
Making it happen
Ostional is a protected beach, it requires an entry fee of $8. We arrived an hour before sunset. Paid the fee. Walked down the path. Witnessed the magic. Our guide told us that the turtles will sound like they are crying, just like their name Tortuga Llora [crying turtle]. He also told us not to fret, they aren’t actually in pain; the effort required to come up the beach and lay their eggs causes them to cry. Aside from the beautiful spanish term for our weeping turtles, they are more commonly known as the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Found primarily in tropical waters, the Olive Ridley nest in mass numbers, termed arribadas. Even though the numbers last night seemed incredible, around one thousand females on one stretch of beach, our guide told us that the normal nesting season brings hundreds of thousands.
Natural cycle of life and death
I had goosebumps for an entire thirty minutes. Surrounded by crying females nesting, camera in hand, humbled by nature. Vultures stalked the turtles, their egg shells are soft. An easy target. I was almost offended by the way the birds pecked furiously at the first sight of white. The usual arribadas take place during the rainy season, with cooler temperatures to protect the eggs. Unfortunately every egg that was laid last night will perish before any gestation takes place. The temperatures are too high to yield life. After learning this, I no longer looked with disdain at locals picking eggs out from underneath turtles and the vultures pecking and fussing. It is a necessary cycle. I did not hesitate. This was my chance to hold an egg with no worry of ruining nature’s intention. I snagged one as a female flipped it out of its deep hole while digging. It was oddly warm and incredibly delicate. No wonder sea turtles have such a low chance of survival.
For more turtles, look on… or click on any of the images to check out my Flickr.
Here’s to hoping we all see a little bit more of Mother Nature’s awesomeness.
EDIT: If you’ve got a heart for these beautiful creatures and would like to help prevent their (human-fueled) demise. Please check out the Olive Ridley Project, an incredible effort to document and collect unmanned fishing nets in the Indian Ocean. These nets end up entangling and killing Olive Ridleys. See more at their webpage and Facebook page.