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Becoming a Sea Turtle Conservationist

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Costa Rica

Results of 8 months turtle-madness

Now that I am back home, it is time for one last blog post about my coordinator job in Costa Rica.
And no, I don’t want to give you a list of all the good and the bad sides of Caletas. Neither will I specify the things I’ve learned, nor what made it so special to me and how much I developed personally. And no, I don’t want to retell my favourite moments and express some final poetic thoughts.
I rather give you some hard turtle facts, and a collection of my best pictures:

Continue reading “Results of 8 months turtle-madness”

Things are different in January and February

Here is the Caletas Update from January and February!

THE BAULA STORY ENDS – LESSONS LEARNT

Yes, I was writing a lot about Mrs. Baula. She was also the most special, mysterious, fascinating and frustrating turtle mom I ever met. She reminded me that sea turtles can be unpredictable and surprising and are not fully understood yet – their mysteries not fully revealed yet. Plus: each sea turtle has a distinct character – oh yes, you read right! Some are little divas, a few are very shy, others are straight forward and bad-ass. Some of them nest in the most light-polluted areas with twenty people standing around and touching them while others run back into the sea as soon as they hear an unfamiliar sound.
But Mrs. Baula also reminded me once again how awesome and important hatcheries are – and will be in the future, with climate change, beach degradation and all that other stuff. Continue reading “Things are different in January and February”

Final moments of 2015

Here I am again, with the December news from Caletas!

The month started with a nice relaxing 6-day “holiday” in Nicaragua to get a new tourist visa for my last 90 days here. Me and Melvin followed the same schedule than last time: three nights in his home village Ostional, one night in touristy San Juan del Sur to get some shopping done and one night in busy Managua to get some more shopping done.
I enjoyed life with fans in the room, comfortable mattresses, rural scenery, all kinds of animal encounters, cold drinks, ice cream every day, motorbike cruising, and I also got to see an Olive Ridley Arribada Continue reading “Final moments of 2015”

November life – many struggles and a few rewards

Okay, enough with “Sun, Sand and Surf”-Happiness, enough with “look at these adorable cute babyturtles I am playing with” and “I am so fortunate to live a life like this” – lately, Caletas has been full of challenges and throwbacks.
I tell you the real story now – stories about

  • a turtle facing extinction which likes to play games with us
  • communal living and working in an isolated place which turns out to be just as rough as the wilderness that is surrounding us
  • skunks, rain, broken headlamps and tired muscles

Continue reading “November life – many struggles and a few rewards”

Busy October

A full hatchery (once again), busy patrols and rainy days, as well as the presence of two more sea turtle species at Playa Caletas indicate that now in October, we have been in the very high season of turtle activity.

GREEN TURTLE MADNESS

By now we have three Green turtle nests in our hatchery. After her first rather surprising visit we wanted to be totally prepared for her return. However, she came two nights earlier than expected which ended in a bit of chaos. Once again, I was the lucky one on patrol to find her, when she was only bodypitting. We didn’t bring any phones but were well aware that each of the assistants wanted to see her (and requested to be informed, unlike last time), as most of them had never seen a Green turtle before. Continue reading “Busy October”

September happenings

Hello to everyone! Here is the Caletas Update from last month.

TIME OFF IN NICARAGUA

After two and a half month staying in Caletas and having one night off per week (most of which I would still spend at camp, but at least I can sleep for the whole night, if the others let me 😉 ), I got sent on a week-long “holiday” in Nicaragua. Well, the reason for this was that I needed a new tourist visa for the next three months, so I had to stay out of the country for at least three days. I was allowed to leave together with Melvin, who is from Nicaragua. Even though I loved the idea, it made be a bit worried because it meant that we would leave four of the girls alone at camp for a couple of nights, with one patrol a night, hatchery shifts, a lot of day chores, and possibly a lot of releases and exhumations.

Continue reading “September happenings”

Turtle work at its finest

Caletas has been booming in those past couple of weeks. The hatchery has exploded in terms of hatching activity, the nesting activity has stayed continuously high, two new assistants arrived, and all in all you can feel that the turtle high season has begun. We are busier than ever before. Now I tell you the details:

BIG TURTLES AND FAST POACHERS

So turtle activity has been high – or let’s say reliable with about – let me guess – between ten and twenty nesting events a night. It is nearly guaranteed those days to see a turtle and to stumble over a couple of tracks during your patrol. However – our hatchery has been nearly full with close to 195 nests (!!!!!) incubating at the same time, so we had to limit the number of relocated nests to three or four a night. Continue reading “Turtle work at its finest”

Tracks in the sand

Here are some new stories from my life as a sea turtle camp coordinator and the beautiful wilderness of Playa Caletas!

150

Oh yeah, that is the amazing number of nests we have been able to save in our hatchery to date. It has been 40 days since our first relocation, which also means: THE FIRST BABIES WILL COME UP WITHIN THE VERY NEXT DAYS! We are all very very excited, especially my female assistants who have never seen sea turtle hatchlings before! We got everything ready and I got hopefully everyone prepared for a massive hatchling invasion, a loooot of cute babies, stressful releases and the most nasty excavations. Continue reading “Tracks in the sand”

The Hatchling Factory

It is one month now that I live at Caletas, walking about 10 km every night in the search for turtles go tag and eggs to protect. Here are the latest news and some new impressions:

TURTLE ACTIVITY

Turtle activity has been highly fluctuating. Again, there were a few nights with no activity at all or just one or two nests, and crazy nights with up to 20 events (which were mostly nests and very few unsuccessful nesting attempts). Especially the last couple of days showed high turtle activity, which was partly foreseen by our turtle prediction master Melvin 😉 However, as we cannot predict the exact times the turtles will come ashore and patrol shifts cannot cover the whole night, we have been missing a few nests which we then lost to raccoons before morning census took place. Continue reading “The Hatchling Factory”

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