Thursday, January 20, 2011

19/01/11 Terrestrial Extra Special Blog

It’s Friday, it is turtle walk day. This consists of searching the beaches for tracks and other telltale signs of turtle activity. On the fourth day we were lucky enough to come across a Hawksbill attempting to nest; alas she was not so keen on the spot she had picked and headed back to sea.

However, on the seventh day we walked all three beaches and took a seat at our usual spot for refreshments and snackage!

Then “OMG – it’s a fricking turtle!”, “Where?”, “Over there, look under the branch!!”

This was the start of our 48 hour turtle life-cycle extravangaza.

We waited patiently (definite ‘ants-in-the-pants’ fidgets going on though!!) and eventually all three of us walked stealthily along the beach and up behind the turtle. The last thing we wanted to do was disturb the young lady!

No messing around, she cracked on with the digging and she was fast. Within 10-15 minutes she was using her back flippers to dig her egg chamber. I can tell you now, we were sitting there (well one of us was a little snap happy; all for the records you know!) with bated breath and fingers crossed.

Left flipper first and then the right, she dug a perfect chamber at least 30 cm down. It was definitley cylindrical, then there was a pause…a flipper rested either side and she extended her outer ‘bits’ (sorry, do not want to put the sensitive of you, off!)Then…EGGS! Here is where we could all shout and jump for joy as the turtle goes into a trance as she lays. Though, being so mesmerised ourselves, we do talk but in the hushed tones of upcoming documentary makers!

She proceeds to lay approx 105 eggs; I did not realise at the time how up-close and personal I was with her as I was doing the counting but I can assure you all there were no funny smells (!) and the whole act was just incredible.

As she was coming to the end of laying (down to one egg every minute or there abouts) we crept back down the beach so she could cover up her precious hard work.

We managed to disguise the nest whilst ensuring the turtle was not disturbed and there we had to leave her.

I can honestly say we were all in awe of this beautiful Hawksbill and the three of us will never forget this incredible event.

So, the weekend hits and time for some beach chillin’. This is limited due to the monsoon season dictating all. However we managed to grab a 20 minute respite, up the beach from base camp.

As we headed back…”OMG, it’s fricking hatchlings” I scrambled for the phone to call base - so excited that I just about managed to explain what was going on and where!

The guys came up from base to watch this once in a life time opportunity.

I tentively tiptoed up the bank untill I found the nest. There the wee hatchlings were working their way out. I can only describe this part as painful to watch, a bit like yourself trying to scramble up a large sand dune and then tumbling back to the start! Oh so tempting to wanna put your hand in and help. No need, as the adorable little Hawskbill hatchlings made their way down the beach (great navigation skills, no GPS needed!) and into the sea.

All GVI volunteers had their watchful eyes on them, over sand and in the water. Protecting them from any eager predators (though I am sure dinosaurs are extinct?!).

Here ends our 48 hour extravaganza, though with another two nests discovered on this morning’s walk who knows what might occur in the next 9 weeks.

I cannot believe that I have been lucky enough to witness these events within 8 days of being here on Curieuse. I am not sure it has sunk in yet, maybe when the excitement and adrenaline abates…that will be 9 weeks to wait then!

Keep an eye out for the next Terrestrial special, over and out for now!