Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A Different Life Cycle
About two years ago, I was in Costa Rica with my Dad's side of the family. We went to go see Leatherback turtles lay eggs. Now, a few years later, I saw a different type of sea turtle, the Olive Ridleys, set out to sea for their first time, completing a turtle's life cycle.
A few weeks ago, we walked along the beach until we came to a small palapa. This palapa, in case you didn't already guess, was an institute where they dig up turtle eggs that have been laid on the beach that runs from Bucerias to Paradise Village in Banderas Bay. The institute then digs a similar hole in a protected area to let the eggs hatch, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators.
You get to the institute at sunset and if turtles have hatched within the last 24 hours, you can let them free. You walk to the beach and stand behind a line, and then you take a turtle in your hand and, on the count of three, put it on the ground. The turtle will stand there for a moment, imprinting on the sand so that it knows where to come back to lay their eggs when they get older. They'll walk down to the ocean, and, just before they hit the water, they'll stick up their heads for two reasons: (1) to tell what temperature it is (to remember the place to come back to), and (2) to hold their breath since it will be their first time in the water.
You learn to understand what it could be like to be a turtle, how the things we do could be killing one, and what we can do to help. For example, Leatherback turtles only eat jelly fish. A plastic bag could look like jelly fish to a turtle. If you see a bag, pick it up, as you could be saving the life of a Leatherback turtle. Some types of turtles eat everything. They like seaweed and jelly fish, as well. A straw could look like white kelp. Pick one up if you see it laying around. We'll be saving turtles if we just remember to pick up trash we see lying around on the beach!