For 3 nights we have a group of 18 undergrads from Louisiana helping us on our night patrols. They are studying sea turtle conservation with Dr. Roldan Valverde and are bulking up our numbers on the beach. Last night, we sent out 4 patrols and I was on the last group. April and I headed out at midnight with 5 people from the undergrad group, unsure of how they would take to the experience. They had been up all day, had never seen sea turtles before and had trouble keeping their voices down on the beach.
Our first turtle sighting was less than 3/8 of a mile in and was by far the best Green turtle I’ve ever worked. She was digging an egg chamber as we came upon her and was quick about laying her eggs and disguising the nest…the disguising alone can take 2-3 hours but she was done in about 45 minutes. We let each of the students come up and have a good look at her and it brought me right back to the first time I saw a turtle. The amazement and wonder was great to see and their smiles lasted all night. It helped that we had perfect weather. A nice bright moon, lots of stars and not a single drop of rain…my feet even stayed dry all night!!
All of the students with us had inspiring and positive attitudes and made for a really great night. One of them developed a blister which opened and caused her quite a bit of pain but she didn’t complain once, just did what she needed to do in order to minimize the pain and adamantly refused when we offered to call it quits early. Our patrol ended just after 4 am when they had been up for almost 24 straight hours and still had to walk just over 2 miles back to their hotel (not enough room for them at the station). They still took the time to thank us and comment about how much fun they had. To Belinda, Heather, Allison, Anthony and Rayeed, thank you once again for your wonderful outlook, dedication, passion, for teaching me almost as much as we taught you and for making a late night so memorable.