Sunday, 13 January 2013

Tortugero National Park

Oscar and Lex

After an arduous journey involving buses, flooded rivers, and boats we arrived in Tortugero National Park. Translated this means " region of turtles". It is located on the north eastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and we were staying at Laguna Lodge.

On our first evening we walked along the beach dragging driftwood to create fake snake trails. We paddled in the water that was absolutely freezing. The waves crashed against the shore and we could hear them all night from our cabin. We arrived in Tortugero town and wandered along Main Street ( the only street) looking at the different styles of buildings. We bought a fresh green coconut from a man with a machete who chopped the top off it and we drank it with a straw. It did not taste as we thought it would. It did not taste very coconutty at all. Then we scooped out the flesh that was a bit rubbery and very wet not like the dry coconuts at home.

Tortugero national park was established in 1959 to help the endangered turtle species survive. The locals had been killing the turtles and harvesting their eggs for food. This region is the main nesting area for both leatherback and green turtles. The turtles crawl up the beach desperately grabbing the sand to find a place to lay their eggs. They dig a hole with their flippers in the driest sand near the trees and lay their eggs. The eggs are covered up with sand and left to their own devices. The mother heads back to the ocean, never looking back. The holes in the sand were enormous like mini volcanic craters. The eggs take approximately 60 days to hatch. The babies use a special egg tooth called a 'caruncle' to break themselves free from the prison of their egg. As a group during the night or a rainstorm they climb out and head as fast as they can to the ocean.

Our guide told us that despite being the end of the season there were still eggs hatching. We immediately left the village in the dark and headed out along the beach again turtle hunting. Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to see any turtles but had the best experience walking along the moonlit beach.

We found out that only 1 in 1000 baby turtles survive to adulthood. The obstacles to survival include natural disasters such as shark and seagull attacks, but also the turtles are eating human waste such as plastic and tar balls. Please stop throwing rubbish into the sea and help save the turtles.

To find out more about sea turtles....

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