By Chaylee Posson
March 10-11, 2014
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
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.
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.
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.
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 extremely 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.
Once 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.
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.
It was quite an awesome experience that I will never forget. I’m loving #Trinidadtrip2014!