Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playa La Flor - Tortugas

We just went on the best trip. EVER! We rented a taxi and drove for an hour on the worst road I have ever been on. We had to cross three river where the bridges had been washed out, the car had no shocks and bottomed out just about ever 100m, and to top it off the car smelled of diesel. However that can all be overlooked because our taxi driver safely delivered us to Nicaragua's famous national park: la Flor Wildlife Reserve where amazing things are happening. First of all it is a park dedicated to protecting the threatened tropical rainforest and second, it is the only protected beach where endangered sea turtles arrive to lay their eggs.

At 9:00pm at night we arrived and were introduced to our guide. We had to cover all our flashlights and cameras with a red film to reduce the intensity of the light (so all our pictures have been converted to black and white). Stepping out on the beach our guide showed us about six 'piles' of baby turtles emerging from the sand. At first I thought they were dead, but they just move slow as it takes a lot of effort to climb out over top of all your brothers and sisters.
Each egg pocket has around 40 to 60 turtles. They have greater success in getting to the water if they travel en masse. Amazingly, we were allowed to pick them up. They were so cute. No really, they were. Their little fins tickled your palm as you held them. The guide encouraged us to carry them closer to the water because they are often eaten by crabs, or other predators along the way.Here is a great picture of a cluster of turtles that we carried to the water and watched as the waves came up and carried them off to sea. You can see the moon in the sky.
After a couple of hours, the emergence of the baby turtles was finished for the night and it was time to wait for the momma turtles to arrive. They usually do so after the moon has set so they have better protection. The most popular times for laying eggs are in April and November. We waited, and waited, and waited, but no one showed up. Nora could not stay up any longer. So we considered it a night and went home.


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