Our two days at Reserva Playa Tortuga were full of surprises! We honestly didn’t expect to release any baby sea turtles as we knew we were maybe a little too late on the calendar for the hatchling season. But chances were on our side, and the day we visited them, one nest was currently hatchling and ready to be dug out.
Frankly, our first visit was just more like a courtesy visit to say hi, and told them that we would come by the day after to start the work. Oscar, one of the responsible for the project, told us that today was maybe the day one nest was going to be ready. We and three others volunteers headed up to the nursery, located 10 minutes away from the center. Adrien, the person in charge of the release that day, started checking the nest to see if it was ready to be dug off. Lucky us, it was time! He started digging and then the magic happened: dozens of baby Olive Ridley Sea turtles appeared in front of us.
I had never seen so small sea creatures before. My heart was melting and by the look of all of the others, I can easily say that we were all so emotional to be here with them.
During the digging, Adrien quickly checked the health of the babies to see if they were ready to head to the ocean. Some of them were unfortunately still in development, so he put them in a box to take care of them later at the center until they are ready to go! The sad side of the story is that some of the baby turtles didn’t even make it through, meaning there were still eggs dying…
Hopefully, on a total of 56 baby turtles for this nest (the organization counted the number of eggs before putting them in the nursery), there were 35 turtles healthy and ready to go. I had the chance to count those 35, one by one, from my hand to the box. I was a little bit scared at first to hurt them while I was keeping them in my hand, but the emotions were real and I needed to pitch myself later to realize what I just did.
Afterward, once Adrien finished writing down the numbers of healthy turtles, we needed to weigh and measure them for statistics. It was my turn Damien to take action! I could feel that I was a bit anxious to take care of those tiny fragile creatures and excited at the same time. What a great moment we shared all!
Now was the time to head to Playa Tortuga to release the baby sea turtles into the ocean. The tide was low so we had to walk for a moment (and crossed a river) before reaching the ocean. It was finally the big time for those little ones. Adrien explained to us how important it is to put the baby turtles at least 10-12 meters away from the ocean so that they can remember to come here next time to nest. Nature is amazing!
Adrien got our 35-baby Olive Ridley Sea turtles out of the box and put them on the sand. Immediately, they started crawling to the ocean. Some were faster than others. We were there to check that all turtles get into the ocean and if needed, we were there to help them out (the least the better for them). Witnessing this magical moment in life was a dream come true. My smile couldn’t quit my face and my eyes were wet with emotions.
Thank you Costa Rica for this amazing gift!