It was really a long trip to Playa Ostional. And – as always – very hot!! That road was so dusty and my ass is still sore from all those potholes. But finally we arrived and my face completely changed. I’ve heard it’s not possible to access Ostional at times during the the rainy season. The rivers swell a lot and the village gets cut off from the rest of the world.
It’s wasn’t a problem to talk with the other volunteers. They were very friendly, and in a few minutes I felt very comfortable with everyone. After that, I went to check the beach out and to see which magic place I was going to be patrolling at night. It was a lonely beach and it didn’t look like a tourist place.
Patrol time: Everyone was ready with their flashlight – except for me! A friend lent me a red plastic bag to use to cover the lens. Artificial lighting is one of the greatest dangers for turtles, so it is not allowed. When I went out from the house and I looked up at the sky, I thought “WOW!!” The sky was full of stars and I could see 5 planets! (I’m from Spain where it isn’t possible to see planets at all.) It was really a nice night, and I had the feeling that my eyes were going to see something amazing.
Interesting to Know: Do you know that Costa Rica is the only place where you can take the eggs from the turtle and it’s legal!!? I was surprised about this, but nevertheless, there is an understandable reason. During the “arribadas,” the beach is full of thousands of turtles (the lora turtle). They steal each other’s nests because there is not enough space on the beach. So the turtles lay their eggs on top of the other nests, decreasing the possibility the other eggs will hatch. In this case, during the 3-day period for the people who live in the Ostional community to take eggs and sell them on the market legally. This is always done collectively as a community task, never individually (this is forbidden).
Turtle time: It was was really dark, however the shore was smooth, so it was easier to walk. Suddenly we came across a big, black track. That’s evidence that a turtle was or is nearb. And yes! We found the turtle (lora) preparing the hole to lay her eggs. And there we were, ready to do our tasks!!
- When the turtle was ready to lay her eggs, we moved a little bit forward so we could see the hole and the eggs to count them. This was my task. I was really happy and ready. I was holding my breath – and suddenly – she started to pop out the eggs into the hole like ping-pong balls! (See video: lora turtle nesting).
We were a team, so my partners began to do their task too. One was measuring the feet and other body parts and attaching a kind of numbered metal clip on the turtle. With this number we can track when she comes back and learn more about lora turtles. The other volunteer was writing down all the facts and statistics. It was really amazing experience!
The next day around 5pm someone screamed: “The little turtles are hatching!” We started running to where they were and I saw people standing around a hole, and all the little turtles were in a basket, trying to climb. It was so funny!
Race time: Yes, race time! The little turtles were ready to run to freedom, to the sea to start a new life! Around 20 little turtles began to run on the sand. I was laughing out of happiness. They were learning to “walk” on the sand, moving closer the sea, with the waves coming. The first one arrived to the sea, and suddenly, a wave came and took it out to sea! Now yes, this little animal had started to make his/her own story. I wished it the best. Who knows for how long it’s going to be alive? I hope for a long time!!!