No Flash Photography, but supposedly red lights don't offend them in their efforts to lay over 100 ping pong size eggs. Thanks to our guide and her red light, we were able to catch this one shot!
This is an experience unlike any other! Arribada is Spanish for arrival, and these sea turtles arrive by the thousands! They arrive during the last quarter of the full moon cycle, and for 3 nights the turtle mommies come ashore to lay their eggs on this single stretch of beach called Ostional. The eggs stay nested under the sand for about 45 days and then, out pop baby turtles. From there they have to make the treacherous journey to the sea. Not all the make it to hatching. In fact, the first two nights the sea turtles lay their eggs, the locals of Ostional LEGALLY harvest the eggs. This is because, after much research, scientists discovered that the first two rounds of eggs didn't survive because other turtles were destroying the nests while digging to lay their own eggs. The income created from harvesting these eggs supports the local economy, and in turn they conserve the beaches and protect the third night of egg laying from illegal poaching, scavenging animals, and tourists. They are vigilant in their query to protect the turtles, so much so, we weren't even aloud to take flash photography. Surprisingly, the turtles aren't bothered by our presence, or even our touch!
If you can believe it, 4X4 and dirt bikes drive across this rinky-dink bridge! As you can see the river below is quite impassible. Later that evening on our way back we got to watch a tractor pull out a car that thought they could make it through. Whhhhhhaaaaaat were they thinking?! Unless your car turns into a submarine, don't try that at home!
Getting down to Ostional was half the battle for us. This grand event happens throughout the year, but the most turtle traffic occurs in the months of August through October. The rain may usher in the turtles, but it also causes rushing rivers to become completely impassible. We took the long way and left right after school. The stars alined for us and luckily we made it just before dark and in time to see the Arribada in full force! It is estimated about one thousand came ashore for that night, and at one point they had no where to go except over our feet! They were beautiful creatures, so hard at work to perpetuate their posterity. We were all thrilled to see it!
The journey home was not so lucky for us. We stopped for dinner and before we could even order, Elliot slipped and hit her head on the corner of an iron railing. She fell hard and split her forehead pretty good, enough to cause a geyser of blood from her forehead and send me into a complete panic. It's really quite embarrassing, my reaction, and at one point I might even have yelled, "somebody call a dr." She did need stitches, but we weren't able to get her medical attention that night (big surprise here), and by the next day a butterfly bandage did the trick.
Within minutes of being home from her check-up at the Dr.'s office, to make sure everything was fine, she fell down and smacked her goose egg in the EXACT same spot! Her forehead tripled in size, she had swelling between her eyes, and the bruising that ensued for the following week gave her two fully black eyes. She's just about all recovered now, the last of the purple under her eyes is barely visible for the first time today. It was a 2 + week recovery all in all, but I think even she would say it was worth it just to see those turtles!