Monday, May 18, 2015

Giant Leatherback Turtles

For Richard's birthday I wanted to take him to see the giant leatherback turtles.  They come up to lay their eggs between April to August.  Everyone told us that was something we couldn't miss.  We talked to a member in our ward who is employed as a turtle protector and she told us which beach to go to the end of April.  We went to Turtle Beach Resort about 10:00 p.m. and happened to talk to the right person who told us a turtle had just come up on the beach.  We found the location and was directed by the turtle protectors to stay back until the turtle began to lay her eggs.  They said when she is laying her 150 billiard balls size white eggs she is in a trance and at that time we would be able to go right up next to the turtle.  I was blown away at the size of this turtle.  It's head was much larger than mine.  Richard said that it was at least 7 feet long.  The conservationists said this one was a smaller turtle. Wow!  After she had laid all the eggs, she began the process of burying them.  First she just used her back flippers and pushed the sand in the hole and then tamped it down.  Then she started using her front flippers and did what I call "sand angels" throwing the sand with her front flippers to the back and then again using her back flippers to tamp the sand down again.  She did this for about an hour, stopping every few minutes and breathing very heavily and loud and then changing her position.  She was definitely working hard and exhausting herself.  Her eyes were filled with goop and the turtle gurus told us that is the way she gets the sand out of her eyes.  After she had made a complete circle about 12 feet around, she started back to the sea.  She kept getting turned around and heading toward the lights of the hotel, so the turtle guys held their shirts by her eyes and then used their red lights to direct her back to the sea.  It was amazing to watch.  We could not get good pictures because flash pictures are not allowed.  You can google....Tobago Leatherback Turtles and see some cool videos that people have put on U-tube.  It was an awesome birthday present!!!!  The picture below is just of her head.
 This picture you can see the outline of her whole body.  Her head is to the right and she was just ready to enter to ocean.

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