The last 24 hours of the turtle project have been exhausting, thrilling and extremely hot! After dinner last night we all traipsed down to the beach loaded with bottles of water, warm jumpers and tonnes of turtle equipment. After 2 minutes on the beach Becca spotted our first turtle. Down on bended knee, we started to crawl commando style towards it. On closer inspection however it turned out to be nothing but a large tyre. This was to be the theme of the evening. Three bushes, 4 piles of rocks and one sand castle later we had still not found and actual turtle. The mood on the beach however was hopeful. Groups were sent off to walk the beach to check for sitings and tracks and we would congregate at the midpoint every half an hour or so for gossips and games. Our numbers slowly diminished as volunteers needed to be picked up from the airport and those that had been up since 5 the previous evening succumbed to tiredness.
Eventually it was 4:45am and we were on our last beach walk, heading for home and our beds. Penny and Robbo went over to Iki (the second beach) for one final check and we received a radio call simply stating. ‘Turtle! Run!’ Sam, Kate, James and I clambered over rocks, ran down paths and sprinted to the site.
There she was. The first turtle of the season, named Steve. A fantastic loggerhead just laying her eggs. She was absolutely beautiful and extremely focused on what she was doing. She didn’t seem to mind a bit when we tagged her and measured her to collect data. Finally at about 6am we watched her heave her way back in to the sea at sun rise. Possibly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. So we’ve marked her nest and now we just keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well until hatching.
We finally hit the bed, tired but exhilarated, at 6:30 and slept until mid day today. Needless to say I’m writing this to you while pretty spaced out and strangely disorientated. Am looking forward to a good night sleep and, of course another early morning J.
To all those that put in hard work last night but missed Steve, I hope you have better luck this evening.