A Jungle Waterfall & Nesting Turtles (alas!)

By Chaylee Posson

March 10-11, 2014

Rio Seco Falls - Photo by Ann Sebring
Rio Seco Falls – Photo by Ann Sebring

Today we went on a hike to Rio Seco where we walked for about 45 minutes through the forest to a 15-20 ft. waterfall with a pool of

Mora Tree
Mora Tree

fresh water. Of course, I was first to dive in. The water was pretty cold, but we were all hot and sweaty and ready to cool off.

Tree snake - Photo by Taylor Chichester
Tree snake – Photo by Taylor Chichester

We heard many birds (but didn’t see them), and we saw bats, a tree snake, a crab, and fish swimming in the natural pool.

I did a little bit of climbing on the rocks that surrounded the waterfall, and many people climbed up about halfway and were jumping into the pool, which I was told is over 20 feet deep! A couple of our group members were equipped with GoPro cameras and got some really fun shots and video footage of jumping off the waterfall.

Rio Seco Waterfall - Day 2
Rio Seco Waterfall – Day 2

I could not have imagined how amazing this trip would be. So far, we have been served the most delicious food, freshly cooked by a crew of women at Suzan’s Guest House.

Lunch at Suzan's Guesthouse - Day One
Lunch at Suzan’s Guesthouse – Day One

This has been a royal comfort, as Trinidad is a completely new place to me and I’ve had to make a few adjustments. For example, when we left St. Louis last Saturday, it was around 35 degrees, and when we landed in Port of Spain, Trinidad, it was nearly 80 degrees and Photo by Beth Ann Whiteextremely humid (at 1am). We are staying in Matura Village, where, all throughout the night, roosters crow and dogs bark periodically in addition to the constant roar of crickets and other insects. But the blessings and loves far outweigh these adjustments.

This blog wouldn’t be complete without a recounting of tonight’s (and my first) Leatherback Sea Turtle experience. We left Suzan’s Guest House for the beach around 8pm. We all split up into our respective research groups and began walking the beach with one of the Nature Seeker patrols. Our patrol guide’s name was Dexter, or “Big Jack,” and he was really clever in helping us find our very first Leatherback.

We had been walking on the beach for about 30 minutes when Jack said, “Always remember: to be a good patrol you must always look at every object on the beach.” Right at that moment, I spotted a Leatherback about 10 feet in front of us! It was huge! She was “body pitting”, or getting comfortable in a spot on the beach where she would lay her eggs. She kept moving around on the sand by flapping her enormous front flippers.

Laying eggs - Photo by Beth Ann
Laying eggs – Photo by Beth Ann
Collecting eggs as they are laid - Photo by Taylor Chichester
Collecting eggs as they are laid – Photo by Taylor Chichester

IMG_2703 IMG_2713Once she settled down and began digging a hole for her nest, Big Jack brought me over to the rear of the turtle to look for a tag. We could only use red lights around her while she was digging the hole and moving around, because scientists have figured out that Leatherbacks are least reactive to red lights. It was not until she was actually laying her eggs that we could use white light or take pictures with a flash. This is made possible because the Leatherbacks go into a trance-like state while they are laying eggs and are not easily disturbed.

Nesting Leatherback - Day 2 - Photo by Taylor Chichester
Nesting Leatherback – Day 2 – Photo by Taylor Chichester

Jack and I saw that this turtle had no tags on her hind flippers, so I was sent to pick up two tags from our data kit. I read the tag numbers to Adam who wrote them on our data sheet. I would eventually put these tags on her by piercing into the cartilage on her hind flippers – similar to piercing an ear – while she was laying eggs.

Leatherback Eggs for measuring and weighing- Day 2 - Photo by Taylor Chichester
Leatherback Eggs for measuring and weighing- Day 2 – Photo by Taylor Chichester

It was quite an awesome experience that I will never forget. I’m loving #Trinidadtrip2014!

3 thoughts on “A Jungle Waterfall & Nesting Turtles (alas!)”

  1. To the writer, photographer and publisher:

    The photographer and the writer are very gifted. The quality of the image and the selection of words to describe the place are like that of two researchers and explorers on that filed for decades. It is just powerfully sublime. The beauty, the eternity, the regeneration, the joviality, the amazement, the attraction and the peace produced by the article as a whole are enough element to waken the dormant spirit and motivate the ignorant thought to curiosity. Since curiosity might in most cases be the way leading knowing the truth that makes us free.

    These pictures and various comments posted on this blog about Sea Turtles in Trinidad make one feels like boarding in the next expedition, in order to have a hands on personal experience.

    Beyond the comments on the activities of the editor, I learned many things. I now have a clear idea about all mechanism established by a turtle before lay her eggs. But also the fact that there are men and women, whom days and nights spend their lives fighting against the extermination of these species.

    This is a good cause and an initiative deserving to be congratulated as well as any other ensuring the protection of any of divine creation, such as lions, snakes or eagles. I leave this blog with some thoughts that crossed my being as soon as I saw the sublime pictures and read the comprehensive commentary of “A jungle waterfall & Nestling Turtles (Alas!)” by C. Posson.

    As soon as my eyes saw you, my being was invaded with joy and astonishment. I was like a little boy receiving his first video game from his dad. This amazement was the result of the paradise you produce. In the heart of the forest, you hold your opera. This zero dollar, where every tired explorer can come and quench his thirst and refresh himself. Your water gushing from a rock and hitting the pool produces the sound of a Zulu’s drum. Birds around you produce more beautiful melodies than those written and composed by the by human hands. The scream, laughs and noises of men swimming are the ideal elements to create the best musical the world has ever heard.

    You waterfall, you gently, harmoniously and peaceful gather all the different divine creations- vertebrates, invertebrates, carnivores and herbivores- in one basin. Eyes closed, I dive into your waters. I do not know to swim. But your beauty, your harmony and serenity are enough elements convincing me to visit you. My eyes have seen vis-a-vis many waterfalls from africa to Europe and America. But one like yours Rio Seco falls, I have not. You are unique.

    Thank you for sharing your daily journey and activities.
    Raoul Bruce

    1. Thanks, Raoul! We are grateful that our trip is inspiring your poetic thoughts! Thank you for following our trip through Trini.

  2. Thanks for the great reporting! Love hearing about yal’s (hey it’s Texas here) wonderful turtle adventures… keep’um coming!!

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