Leather Backs turtles in Liman

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Aug 16, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Alajuela,
Saturday, May 2, 2009

For the last two weeks we have been doing some voluntary work to help the protection of leather back turtles (first time we have worked in a in time). We heard about the project from a guy we met in a pub, so we were not sure what to expect.

It was in the middle of nowhere, we took a bus for a few hours, then taxi and finally a boat through a mango swamp to get there. It is a very basic camp with no running water, or electricity, but the food was fine. Every one there is a volunteer and we were lucky that they were a good bunch and every one got on well even if they were Aussies.

The work consisted of a four hour walk along the beach in the dark starting between 8pm and midnight and finishing about four. The idea is the get to the eggs as the turtles lays, take them back to the hatchery, then 55 days latter hay presto you have 100 new turtles running to the sea. The problem is the poachers also want the eggs to sell in the local market (they are thought by locals to be an aphrodisiac) and they out number our patrols by about 10 to 1. We walk along the beach with a guild until you see a leather back coming out the water ( unless a poacher sees it first) it will crawl along the sand until it finds a nice spot, dig a hole about 75 Cm's deep then drop its eggs. That's when we catch them in a bag, wright down its tag number (or tag it if its not been in before) and measure the length of the shell witch on average is 150 cm .

Between the two of us we manage to get four clutches of eggs ( they lay about 100 eggs per clutch) so that's a third of a turtle that will make adulthood. We absolutely loved seeing these huge turtles coming out the sea and getting close up to watch them lay and would defiantly recommend it to any one whole gets the chance. We finished on a downer as the last night a green turtle got killed by a poacher for its meet.

We are heading across the boarder into Panama in the next few days.   Another crazy country
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