So when we were at San San we ,of course,we did turtle patrols in addition to hatchery duty. I heard some of my friends had seen at least four different adult turtles during their stay. I ,however, had seen just two. Even so, I will never in my life forget those moments. My first encounter was around midnight on day 4 of our trip. We were part of the 10 to 2 shift and as we wondered for what seemed like endlessly on the beach in darkness we saw in the distance , lights. They would flash red and white and soon they were not 20 feet from us. “There is a turtle! We collected her eggs but if you hurry you can still see her!” And soon we were met with a creature larger than I imagined.
She resembled a prehistoric creature and she was preforming the most touching labor of love. She used her front flippers to smooth the sand that her front flippers kicked back. She was making the best effort to provide life for her babies and it was an honor to watch. She was crying salty tears that are designed to rid her body of too much salt. Just the process of filling in the hole she had made took over an hour.
During this process I couldn’t help but be in awe that those tiny little babies we released a day earlier would grow to her size. While we were waiting our guide left and appeared with some coconuts to enjoy. It was such a surreal moment, sitting on the beach in Panama, watching a giant sea turtle on land while drinking out of a freshly chopped coconut. Definitely something I will always remember and as she left I actually felt sad. I felt a fondness towards her, all the energy that it must take to hull her heavy body up the beach, you can’t help but to cheer her on. The same goes for the second turtle that I encountered.
We were walking toward the hatchery when all of a sudden Brian came running up to everyone announcing that their was a turtle close by. We all followed quickly and within 5 minutes of brisk walking we came up a mother turtle digging her nest. We all watched in amazement as she layed her eggs, got tagged, and measured.We were even able to feel her strong flipper and her solid shell. That magical moment of getting to touch this endangered and beautiful creature was truly humbling. It was a blessing and honor that I will carry with me always.