This post is not going to contain any pictures. None were allowed. But in my mind I will never forget the experience of seeing a Giant Green Sea Turtle laying her eggs during the nesting season at Tortuguero.
Last weekend, Ann and I had the privilege of traveling to Tortuguero island. The journey started with a 2 1/2 hour bus ride and then a 45 minute boat ride to our destination of Pachira Lodge on Tortuguero Island. We signed up for the tour to the turtle's nesting grounds right away since that was our main purpose for the visit.
At 7:45pm, we boarded a boat for the short ride to the beach. In complete darkness, we walked as a group to a meeting spot in the forest and sat on a bench under a shelter for an orientation of the experience from our guide. Our guide's name was Walter and he was very knowledgeable.
The Costa Rican people now have a genuine appreciation for their natural resources and have a marvelous system in place so that tourists can observe the nesting turtles and yet not disturb the natural setting.
Our guide told us that we would wait for one of the "turtle spotters" to radio in and let us know that a female turtle had been spotted and was digging her nest. Then we would go (in our group of 10) to the beach to see if we were going to be able to watch her deposit her eggs. There are no guarantees in nature so it is very much a "wait and see" process.
After what felt like an eternity but was really only about 20 minutes, we finally got the call. We walked swiftly through the dark to the beach following our guide. Ann motioned for me to look up at the sky when I could and I was rewarded with a beautiful star filled sight!
As we huddled together in silence on the beach, our guide checked out the turtle's progress. It seemed that she had chosen a spot with a lot of roots and was having some trouble digging her nest. We had to wait to see if she was going to persevere with the spot or perhaps return to the sea.
After another 30 minute wait, we finally got the word that we could approach. She had begun laying her eggs. The guide must wait until the turtle has laid at least 2 eggs before we begin to watch so that she is not frightened away.
We were able to approach with only a distance of less than 2 feet separating us with the turtles. It was a truly miraculous sight! She was intent in her mission and focused on her natural instincts. We got several turns to watch as she filled the nest with at least 100 eggs. Then we were able to see her cover the nest with her flippers working like skillful hands. It was a sacred and awesome event to behold.
When it was time to return, I marveled at the miracle we had been able to witness! No pictures of this memory, but an unforgettable experience all the same!