Saturday, June 8, 2013

Senior Missionary outing to the turtles!

If you have been following my blog, you know this mission does NOT look like Hawaii.  However this P-day, we drove way to the Northern edge of the Island to Grand Riviere to see the turtles.  Last post about turtles was at a much closer location, Matura.  It was also outstanding and one of the most wondrous things to see of my life.  Our trip this time was an overnight, because it is a three hour drive one-way and one must stay up late at night to see the turtles.  So we stayed at the McHaven hotel as a group and traveled home the next day.  I wanted to preserve this experience because as for this island being a tourist is definitely NOT!  However, seeing and experiencing the turtles is something if you ever get a chance (maybe traveling home from Tobago or Barbados) you should take advantage and experience leatherback turtles for an evening!  It is amazing!
 We left Trinidad at 3:30 and arrived at Grand Riviere at 7:00 pm.  The road reminded me of the road to Hana in Maui.  I almost got sick, but luckily switched to the front seat and recovered.  The scenery was absolutely astounding as we drove along the ocean.  It is what you would imagine a Caribbean mission location would look like, but we never see!
 The sun just setting.
 Not a gold-star exchange property, but adequate, decent food, clean enough and very appreciated. We were starved when we got there!  Ingrid (the owner) had dinner ready for us, we had family home evening and then walked down to the beach around 9:30 pm.
 Here's the road straight down to the beach.
This is the road the baby (below) got lost wandering down Good thing she didn't make it to that chicken!
 We were so anxious to see a hatchling! Clearly confused about the direction it should be going to get back to the ocean, we picked it up and carried it to the beach and the water. 
 This tiny hatchling will in ten years in the open sea (if it survives) become the size of a dinner plate.  In twenty years, it will be a mature adult measuring five to six feet and weighing 600-800 lbs.  As an adult, Leatherbacks eat twice their body weight everyday preferring jellyfish.  We were surrounded with turtles! 300-400 turtles a night come to nest at Grand Riviere along a mile long stretch of beach.  It was so dark that none of the pictures turned out, but we were right in the middle of about ten nesting turtles.  I was holding up a back flipper to see the eggs dropping better, sitting on the ground, and suddenly there was sand and water being flipped and sprayed all over me! Another turtle had come up right behind me and started digging her nest!  We walked home at midnight and passed out since we usually go to bed at 9:30!
 The guide had told us that if you come back at 5:00 am there will still be some nesting turtles.  Elder Monson woke up and took the ipad so we could get some day-time pictures!
 Wow!  You can see her so much better! 
 He said in the light of day the beach looked like a battle-ground!  The work of all those turtles was astounding!  Some were laying their eggs on top of another nest, so there were eggs dug up on the surface for all the predators that came for the early morning devouring. Look for them all down the beach.
 The coordinating council trying to decide where to attack first.
Everything conspiring against the new babies and their one-in-a- hundred chance of survival.

The stunning view of the sun just coming up on the beach!
Notice the camera on top of the shell of this mother.  There were some documentary people there in the morning, and they wanted to track her yearly migration, so they attached a camera to her back.  Here she goes, after nesting, back to the sea.
I am really excited to see this documentary some day!
There was a second one he got to watch.  You can see here the last step in nesting.  With her powerful front flippers, she camouflages the area, throwing sand behind her as she works.  
Now she is on her way back to the Sea.
What an awe-inspiring experience, even spiritual.  These ancient reptiles survived the dinosaur age and are threatened with extinction now because of getting caught in fishing nets, eating ocean-garbage plastic bags that look like jellyfish, and falling to poachers.  Their fight for survival continues.  "All things witness there is a God."
 Leaving the turtle experience, we enjoyed some of the most beautiful ocean vistas yet seen on our mission - reminiscent of Hawaii!
Back to work!

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