Photo Credit: http://www.en.go2sanjuandelsur.com
Last night, we got the chance to release the most adorable itty-bitty baby sea turtles into the pacific ocean. When coming to Central America, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to be able to do this and I was not disappointed.
I went into the experience with no expectations. I didn't want to be disappointed if there weren't many turtles or we didn't get to see the babies. I wasn't really sure what we would get to do and so I think that's why I was so blown away! At around 7:30 pm, we piled into a truck and took about a 20 min ride on a dirt road to a beach called Playa La Flor, a little south of where we are staying. We got out and waited in the parking lot for a little while and Kit, our host at the retreat center, brought out a basket filled with about 16 baby sea turtles. They were smaller than the palm of my hand and they all had 4 long fins all flailing about trying to move around. They were squirmy little guys! We had to be careful with the light we used to look at them so that we didn't damage the new babies eyes, so we were able to hold a red piece of plastic in front of the flash light I brought so that the light would be more dull. We all snapped some photos of the little guys and held them carefully.
After about 15 minutes of 15 girls oohing and ahhing over the cuteness of tiny sea turtles, it was time to release them into the ocean. I was a little nervous doing this, I mean they were so tiny and how could they swim in the GIANT ocean?! We were assured that the babies would be perfectly fine on their own and we headed out to the ocean.
We started walking out onto the beach in the moonlight, and all of a sudden we saw tons of huge rock looking things. WOAH and they moved!! They were for sure not rocks. We discovered THOUSANDS of full grown female turtles that had come onto the beach to dig holes and lay their eggs! The turtles are called "Olive Ridley" turtles and they weight about 45 kilos each! This species of turtles exist in Asia and Africa as well, except in most other places they are very endangered and almost at extinction. Here in Nicaragua they have one of the biggest populations in the world, so we were very lucky to see them. There were thousands of them, I kid you not, and they all were so calm and quiet. We quietly walked around them getting sand flicked on us as the turtles used their fins to dig their nests.
We made our way down to the water and it was time to let our little babies go. I picked up the squirmy little guy and I could tell he was ready. He was born for this! I placed him on the sand and he started moving towards the water and as the water came up, he was swept away and then he was gone. To be so small in such an overwhelmingly huge ocean is crazy to think about, but these babies are blissfully unaware of the dangers out there and just want to get out there and start their life. It's a beautiful thing.
We walked around on the beach in the moonlight looking at all the momma turtles and tried not to disturb them. We also found some eggs that were not buried and the best way to describe them was they looked like little ping pong balls! Sadly, we found an egg that was cracked open and it had a yellow yolk similar to a chicken egg spilling out. Here in Nicaragua, turtle eggs are a delicacy and people steal eggs from the beach to sell them. It is illegal, but they still sell them. During their mating/ laying season, which is about 6 months of the year, thousands of turtles swarm the beach at once and so when the turtles hatch they have power in numbers for more of them to survive. Luckily, Playa La Flor is a remote beach and it is a protected area so the amount of eggs that are stolen here is lessened. Thousands and thousands of eggs are laid every year on this beach, but because of natural reasons, a surprisingly low number actually get the chance to grow and hatch into a full baby turtle, and even less make their way across the beach to the ocean. Hopefully, because of us 16 baby turtles will live to be full grown and come back to that beach to lay their eggs one day.
We said good bye and good luck to the momma turtles and returned back to the big truck to take us back. It was a night I will not forget!
To find out more info about where to go check out this site, https://vianica.com/attraction/25/la-flor-beach-natural-reserve
Love and Light,