My name is Kevin, I am 30 years old and I was born in Colorado, USA. When I was only 6, my grandfather, an assiduous nature lover, told me that on the beach of a remote, small Central American country called Costa Rica, at a certain time of the year a massive amount of turtles would swim to this beach, but these were different turtles from what I saw walking in the backyard of my house. He told me that, unlike our turtles, those do not have legs but very strong fins, like a dolphin. They would swim tirelessly at a startling speed, like miniature submarines through the vast ocean crossing mile after mile, all the way to the mysterious beach to lay their eggs. That was my first “approach” to the world of sea turtles.
Travel to Costa Rica to witness the spawning grounds of the green sea turtle
Interested in learning more about the green turtles spawning grounds, which my grandfather had told me about, I found, years later in a National Geographic magazine, a scientific article by Douglas Robinson, a world authority on reptiles and Director of the School of Biology, at the University of Costa Rica during the seventies. The enormous desire to witness this incredible natural event motivated me to travel to Costa Rica with my wife and our 4 year old son, John.
By doing some research on the internet, we made reservations at the Hotel Manatus, where we coordinated the “Turtle Nesting Tour” for that afternoon. After we arrived, the guide led us to Tortuguero National Park, and to the beach where the turtles spawn. Although hundreds of sea turtles covered the beach, the event would not occur until the evening, so we had to take flashlights to be able to see the turtles laying their eggs along with the guide’s very necessary supervision.
It is known that the female sea turtles lay an average of 100 eggs per nest, since the probability of offspring survival in the environment is very low. They hatch by the thousands but only a fraction survives. The species called green turtle would arrive in a few minutes. Typically, females lay eggs 2-3 weeks after mating. They lay their eggs a little further from the sea to prevent their offspring from being carried away by the high tide. They dig a hole similar to their own size and lay their eggs. Some species deposit up to 1,000 in a season.
A natural experience for the whole family
When my son saw the first egg he said: “Look Mom, they’re balls”. Grace looked at me with that motherly smile and said, “Like the eggs at grandmother’s farm but different”, to which John replied, somewhat frustrated, “But where are the turtles? Then I told him stroking his head: “In a little over a month, son, sea turtles break the eggshell, like the chicks do, and start pushing their way on the sand with their flippers looking for the sea.”
On our way back to Manatus Hotel, John didn’t say a word. “Why so quiet?” We asked. “I just feel sad.” “What’s the reason?”
Raising his arms he solemnly asked the question: “How will the little sea turtles find the sea if they’re born at night and don’t have a flashlight? …”.