|Island Style take-out!|
|Thanks Rowena for the snapshot! Patiently waiting for my dinner!|
With hardly enough time to finish our dinner, we arrived at Bathway Visitor's Center where turtle watching tours (see their Facebook Page) are conducted during the nesting season.
Things in the islands are much more relaxed and laid back than they are in the 'States, and this tour was no exception. A group of researchers (see their Facebook Page) spend their nights walking this beach during nesting season in an effort to increase our knowledge and help return these turtles to thriving numbers.
We listened to a short introductory and then caravanned to the beach where we would wait for the mother turtles to arrive!
Tours are conducted by knowledgeable guides who are more than happy to answer any questions we had, and there were many. There was no caution tape, no line to stay behind. We were able to walk along this wild and beautiful beach where the turtles were nesting and see them close up!
But I'm getting ahead of myself... let me back up! We walked out onto a wild beach bathed in the glow of a full moon. The light threw shadows like noon, but cloaked with a certain mystique as the moon turned night into day.
|Fishermen leave their boats safe on the beach|
|Ghostly red "eyes" came to show us the way.|
|Our first babies!|
The researchers were proficient at spotting the nests in the dark. Eggs are safe under the sand and our walking over them would not harm them. But if we were to step on the babies as they struggled to take their first unfiltered breath, we would kill them. This first nest was just steps from where we waited and we couldn't help but ooh and ahhh as these tiny little guys dug their way into our world.
The nests were nearly invisible - their location given away only by the tiny trails of the turtles already on their way. A thick carpet of Sargassum seaweed hindered their progress and we used red lights to find them and help them on their way to the surf. The sight was surreal.
My pictures are not good, but somehow the other-worldly vision captured here supports the feel of the night. We could not use flash, so this is what we have. I think it more accurately portrays the sights before us. All you're missing is the sound of waves and the warm caress of the breeze.
|A researcher watches the huge Leatherback enter the waves!|
|There she goes!|
We gathered 'round another nest of babies and participated in the release of one more small batch of living miracles. In the coming years these little guys and gals will grow from this palm-size, to rival that behemoth we just witnessed... if they are lucky.
It was getting late, but we were all game for giving it another half hour - just to see if our mamma returned a bit further up the beach. Bruce sat in the sand while I had an out-of-body experience.
Standing on that wild beach, I imagined myself alone. I stared out to the crashing waves and could feel the presence of so many unseen turtle mammas. They were out there. Waiting. And my presence was now imprinted on some of the babies hatching tonight. Maybe they would take some little part of me with them on their lifelong journey to who-know-where. And it felt good. Good to be back. Good to be where I belong again in this slower, gentler place. This is why the lucky few make the break and leave all that is familiar behind. This is my new familiar. It's my new home. This moment has done much to ease the pain of leaving all of my treasures back in Texas. I still feel The Big Cry coming. But tonight it holds off. With a little more Turtle Therapy... maybe I won't need that cry after all...