Tortugitas Verde

We had a pretty exciting start to our week with the unexpected exceptionally successful hatch rate of our relocated green nest on the beach. We had a green turtle nest in Costa de Oro about a week before I got here, bummer for me that she did not come back to renest because I really wanted to see her. Because the hatchery was not finished yet the eggs were relocated closer to our house so we could keep a close eye on them. Upon my arrival to Costa de Oro, I think, this was one of the first things that Hilary showed me. Last week, I knew the due date was quickly approaching and so I asked Lotti what the protocol was. She had me go home and find the nest (Hilary, the log got moved because they were no where near the log). Maddie (our project supervisor) and Wilson (the local coordinator in San Miguel) came over to help me check on the nest. We opened it up and weren't sure what to expect, the nest seemed really cold but thought we would give it a few more days.

Baby Green, so adorable and extremely feisty (photo credit: Lauren)

Lotti came by a few days later and we went to have a peak in the nest. We triangulated the nest and I started to dig. Because the nest had been cold a couple days before I was not really expecting to find any turtles in it. So, needless to say, it was an awesome surprise when I was digging down into the nest and felt a turtle! It scared me at first and I jumped back because I was not sure what I felt, after digging around a little more I realized it was a baby turtle.


Lauren and Steph were sent running back up to the house to grab gloves, a bucket, and obviously a camera! I started pulling babies out of the nest and while I was trying to count I just got to excited and totally lost track. I ended up putting on another glove and we did the exhumation right on the beach so that Lauren and Steph could see.

All the baby greens! (photo credit: Lauren)

During an exhumation we count the amount of egg shells and take a look at the eggs that did not hatch to see why. Lauren and Steph were able to see one stage 1 development egg, with a sweet baby fetus in it, and a stage 3 baby as well. Since my hands were a tinsy bit gross from playing in undeveloped turtle eggs Steph and Lauren were dubbed the turtle photographers. (Have not stolen any pictures from Steph, yet, so these photos are all compliments of Lauren). Our hatch success was at 88%, which has definitely pumped me up for our hatchery to begin hatching!!!




Eggs in the Sink

Our turtles have been up to some weird things this season. We are finding up tracks with no down tracks and down tracks with no up tracks, only guess is that people are moving turtles! Who does that?! One of our morning poachers has begun participating in morning census' with us, and when we find a nest that has not been poached he will find the eggs and we get to put them in the hatchery. The other night all of our turtles came up in the same sector, I wish it was all at the same time that would have been fun, exciting, and overwhelming!

Lauren making the nest and counting eggs

Well, we are just going to keep adding to the weird things that our turtles are doing. Yesterday morning Steph went out to do some laundry and I hear her shouting at me why I put eggs in the sink...

My thought process: Hmm weird I didn't make eggs for breakfast and I am pretty sure Lauren didn't leave her egg shells in the sink I don't know what you are talking about.

So I got up and walked over to the sink where we wash clothes. THERE WERE TURTLE EGGS IN THE SINK!! Some one left us a gift, we were really confused on where they came from. Right away I called Maddie just because I wanted to make sure that they were going to be safe to put in the hatchery. Figured it was a pretty rainy morning that it should be fairly safe to put the eggs in and they are hopefully fine. Well 78 eggs later we added the fourth nest for the night into the hatchery and I enjoyed writing Sector: Sink on the tag. We label all the nests in the hatchery with the date they were found, number of eggs, and from which sector so we can release babies as close to where their nest was.

Here is an example of the tags that we tie to the hatchery grid so we know where the nests are.

We did find the mystery man that left us the eggs. Steph saw our friendly morning poacher this morning on her census walk and asked him about the eggs. He had found them and brought them by the house, no one was there because people that were here were asleep and Lauren and I were on the beach. So he had left them for us in the sink. WHOA bad guy turned good?! I'm not complaining though, I will take poachers delivering us eggs any time!

I have not posted any number so far this year on nesting events, nests relocated to the hatchery, or the amount of eggs collected. I figured since this post is dedicated to all the weirdness we have been expereincing with odd nesting behaviors that now would be a good time to introduce some of our numbers, which I am really excited about since the hatchery was just finished about a month ago.








Character Update

So I know that on my last post I referenced Lauren, and a lot of people were probably like "who is this girl?" Well, now that it is not three in the morning and I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write some updates about what has been going on let me explain.

Meet Lauren

Lauren is someone I went to high school with. Last year when I got home she approached me and expressed how much she LOVED sea turtles and wanted to do what I did, go to Costa Rica and work with sea turtles. Once I found out I was coming back I contacted her and let her know that they were looking for volunteers so they might be looking for research assistants too, and they were! So now I have Lauren from Camarillo here with me. She went to Cal Poly SLO and has a B.S. in Marine Biology. Last year, she began to get the urge to travel which began her journey. She spent a month working with elephants in Thailand (which I am now seriously considering) and ventured off to Europe to participate in different World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), and spent four months traveling to different farms in Europe (talk about a smart way to travel!). Needless to say, it has been awesome having someone from California around that gets all the references I make. PLUS, she will be here until December, but I lost her as a travel buddy since the airline made her book a flight back on December 10th (the day our project closes).

My weird Costa Rican Rash.

Not only was I excited for Lauren to arrive last week because I was excited by the overwhelming representation of California in the house, but she was also bringing goodies from home. Dad sent her with a new headlight (we have been having issues with lights breaking this year so better safe than sorry), a new watch since my had been having issues the week before and I freaked out thinking it was broken (but it still works), some hydrocortisone itch cream (have not made it to Jicaral to pick up da'kine with lidocaine yet), and some antifungal cream because I got a weird rash on my arm and wasn't sure what it was. She was also given ginger cut candies to bring down, however, did not have room in her bag so they didn't make it (hope you are enjoying those Mrs. Seguey!).

Over the past week we also had Mainor stay with us for a few nights. He is a Costa Rican who is hilarious to have around. We played lots of card games, bringing UNO might have been the best choice I have ever made.

Steph, Lauren (who is kind of hiding), Mainor teaching Santos how to play UNO

This is how I know my Spanish is improving. One night on patrol with Santos I was talking about how much I love cheese and milk, after patrol I thought he might be bringing me some fresh milk but I was not quite sure. A few days later her showed up at the house with a jar of fresh milk for me!! AWESOME!! It has been a treat to have real milk, though I am a little sketched out on just drinking it straight or having it in a bowl of cereal. He did say that in a month they would be milking the cow again and I can go with him to learn, it would have to be on my night off since it would probably be like 2 or 3 am but I think I might take him up on the offer. I think it would be fun to learn to milk a cow even if I don't really end up getting the night off.



Best Midnight Surprise

Patrolling with Lauren has been AWESOME!! She has the best luck with turtles. Like the first night she was here, she was unable to sleep walked down to the beach and there was a turtle nesting right in front of her.

But tonight she tagged her first turtle and we saw babies!!!! There was the oddest track and I knew I've only seen that marking from baby turtles before. I found the hole it originated at started digging and found shells. Planning in going back to exhume tomorrow. Hopefully baby pictures to come soon (fingers crossed)!!!!


My Living Arrangements

My bug net, blanket from Courtney, and a clothes line strung across my room

Returning to Costa Rica did receive some upgrades this year. No, unfortunately I do not have hot water or a laundry machine this year, that would resort living, though I do have my own room and bathroom.

My closet/towel rack, the bathroom doesn't get much ventilation and no one wants mildewy towels

I cleaned and organized it all the other day so I thought since it was the first time I had really organized everything I should take a picture so everyone can see my room this year. I have a bigger bed than I do at home and my own bathroom. Maybe I should stay here at the end of the season (even if the house gets rented out I will just come with the house). Even though I have my own toilet, it is broken, so it is like it doesn't even exist. At one point when our has had 6 girls we were all using one bathroom for the toilet, needless to say that was a mess. I am happy that at least my shower works and that I can store my toiletries in the bathroom and not worry about my toothbrush falling to the ground.

My bathroom, it is nice having my own space, but the toilet has been broken for a month



The Never Ending Lunch Adventure

The other day Steph and I decided that the tide was perfect to walk to Tenga's for lunch. We have to cross the estuary at low tide to get to Tanga's which is over near Punta Coyota. Well, after walking the 2 KM to the estuary we cross and find out that he will not cook any food without seafood in it and that he will not make anything vegetarian for Steph. We kindly say thank you and decided to head up the road to see if the next restaurant is open, it wasn't.

Part of the river we crossed, figured it was safe since a local was doing it too

We took a pause here to look at the time and decide if we walk back to Costa de Oro via the beach or if we keep walking up to Coyote (4 KM more). We decided to just keep walking to Coyote since we had walked so far already. After walking through a couple rivers, oh yeah it had rained the whole night before, we finally made it through to Coyote about 2 PM (we started started this journey at 11:30). We finally got food at my favorite restaurant in Coyote, Loma Clara; Steph was able to get a vegetarian pasta and I had rice with shrimp. I was starving so this is probably the best meal that I have had in Costa Rica ever, though I know in actuality that Thanksgiving last year still wins.

My arroz con camarones

After our trip for lunch wrapping up at about 4 now, we went by the super to pick up some ice cream for the walk home, we still had another 5 KM left to go. We stopped by the office to use the bathroom and booked it home making it back just as the sun was setting! Good thing we got back just then because the bug spray on my legs was for sure gone and I am pretty sure what I put on my arms had been warn off from all the sweat. Oh well made for a fun adventure, needless to say we were a little tired the next day after so much walking and a patrol.



Baked squash, not to bad

Seriously, what a funny name for something. I think I might look into the history of the name squash, okay probably not. But again something that I never really eat when I am at home and therefore not something I have ever cooked before. Thought baking it would probably be the best solution basically because I did not really know what else to do with it. I googled just in case there were specific direction as to what I needed to do. It was so easy! Cut, peel, scoop out guts, cube, and bake! I do not know if it is something that I will go out of my way to get when I am home, but at least I know what to do with it when it randomly shows up in my refrigerator.

Squash guts!!!



I'm a Hermit!


Largest hermit crab I've seen on the beach yet.

Okay, so maybe I'm not actually a hermit. But I have learned that I am completely okay being separated from the technologically addicted English speaking world. Yes, I have my iPhone in which I can technically communicate when I need to and it is nice having others around to talk to, especially my family, but I am okay just sitting in my house and reading a book or walking down the street and talking to random people (talking is used loosely- might be more talking to the best of my abilities).

Hermit crabs like coconut, but they ran away when I tried to take a picture

The station house feels like home this year. I get asked by our volunteers and research assistants if I get homesick espcially because I am out here usually a lot longer than they are. The answer is I get homesick and I miss a lot of the conveniences of so many things in the States, however, I like to be removed from those luxuries I feel like I have time her to reflect on myself and work hard at my job. (If that did not just sound really yoga-ish I do not know what else I am going to write in this blog that will).

I have been here less than one month. Last year I had been here two weeks and I was questioning if I made the right choice in coming to such a "remote" location, last year we had wifi all the time. It took time for me adjust to this lifestyle of waking up and working at odd hours of the night while trying to do some regular tasks during the day as well. I feel like I learned a lot last year as to how the day should flow and so I am applying previous knowledge that helped make the transition smoother this year.

Not a big fan of large stagnant bodies of water

In this past month I would not say that I have exactly felt homesickness. I think that I miss being around my friends and family and would to pick them all up and move them down here. I love to aimlessly walk the beach, go for random body surf sessions, or sit in a chair and read a book. I know what you are thinking, yes, I have a job and I love my job I love working with such an amazing sea creature and I am honestly blessed to be able to do such a thing. I love to get up in the middle of the night and patrol the beach hoping that I will get to see one, mostly because I get to tag now that we have more tags in! I have a goal to fill the hatchery which helps me pass my time. I think that homesickness here doesn't stem from the lack of communication with loved ones at home, because I had that last year and still felt homesick, but that sometimes it is hard to stop feeling like we constantly need to be going all the time and relax and let things just be.

This year had very much felt like the second year of college. Last year, I was unsure of what I would experience no matter how much research I did. This year, I came knowing exactly what to expect and I felt like I fell back into the rhythm of my Costa Rican lifestyle very easily. Even though I didn't experience a real rainy season, and I would say I still really haven't this year, my sophomore year in Costa Rica is going amazingly and I am so happy I came back.



Empanadas, projects, and broken things

I am putting in a turtle tracker for 2013!! Our hatchery is starting to fill up so it is time to start tracking how many eggs and nests are getting put in and starting the beginning of October we should start seeing babies!!

Caught these two getting frisky, i wasn't quick enough with my picture though

Our first night without any volunteers Steph and I decided to get creative with our food. We both love our empanadas but decided that we might try to make it with yuca instead of corn flower. Luckily, it was great success, though they might not have looked gorgeous they tasted delicious. I've turned to a diet of rice and beans and I am totally fine with eating rice and beans at every meal, so I feel kind of bad when we do get volunteers and they ask what is for dinner and I say rice and beans. Apparently, I eat too much rice compared to others visiting from European countries, I'm not very surprised. But, I think that I have my food soul mate with Steph, with the exception that she eats peanut butter, she like me does not like tomatoes because they are a funky texture!!! (I'm not on my own for not like peanut butter though, Luisa was not a fan either)

Mmmm yuca empanadas

Since my blog post on Monday, we had a big storm that night. Santos wanted to come and patrol with us but we had to wait for the storm to pass so it was safe to go out. That patrol ended up being a shortened one since Santos had to be home by 10 because he had work in the morning. It ended up being useless and not worth going out for the hour in the rain because I was going to patrol again after the tide started to go down.

The most stressful part was that right before we left I went to put on my watch and it was blank. I had replaced the battery right before I left and wasn't sure if the seal was still going to be waterproof when I did, however, I was not that concerned. I'm not sure what happened because my watch did not work for like 12 hours and when I went to show Steph what was happening it worked completely fine. Luckily, Lauren (someone I went to high school with) is coming down end of next week to be a research assistant so I am getting a new watch and a new headlight just in case.

When watch wasn't working.

The past two nights we were lucky that San Miguel has been so full because we got Maddie to help us with patrols! Steph and I were each able to take a night off with Maddie around.

There are also two extra studies that PRETOMA is working on this year that Maddie helped us set up. The first in a trash study in high, medium, and low density locations. The project is in conjunction with seaturtles.org, so it will be fun and interesting to see the results and help in a study that will be with a popular sea turtle resource.

The second project, which we have already started in the hatchery, is a climate control study. Maddie is tracking the temperatures of the hatcheries and popular nesting sectors on the beach and will hopefully conduct the study for multiple seasons to get an accurate representation on how the climate change is affecting nesting turtles and their nests.

I am personally excited to be participating in these extra studies even if it means a little more work. It will help keep us busy plus these will eventually become some pretty recognizable studies that I have helped with data collection on.

By the way, yes there was an earthquake this morning. It was a 6.0 and over 80 km north of me. I'm okay and it didn't feel that big, I think the only reason I felt it was that I had just woken up.


We've got tags!!

I Smell a Turtle

Our Germans have left. Luisa and Katharina took the bus Sunday morning, and were sounding pretty stressed about it. They were taking the 2:30 AM bus to Jicaral then getting off in Las Juntas and waiting for a bus there to Monte Verde. There were several different routes they could have taken, but decided that they would rather get into Monte Verde for lunch rather than dinner.

Luisa and Katharina getting some last minute snacks at the Pulperia in Javilla

Steph and I made the walk the second night in a row to go and sit with them at the bus stop. I'm sorry but my next volunteers have got to be AWESOME or I am not doing that again. We didn't seem to get eaten alive this time and the there was no rain, but still doing a patrol then walking to the bus stop has got to be one of the longest nights of my life. Going to miss those girls though, our house was pretty quiet yesterday without random fights in German breaking out.

With the departure of all our guests yesterday, Steph and I wondered down the road with a box full of dirty sheets. Isa, Don Victors daughter, was supposed to be our local patrolling with us this year, however, she got sick and the Doctor said she could not do the walks yet, so she has been helping by doing the sheets. When we got down to Don Victors house I was surprised to see Elias. Elias is working up at the office, he is working with Turtle Trax, keeping the website and facebook page up to date and getting volunteers and organizations interested in coming to volunteer. He had decided to come down and make dinner for us and patrol. I also informed him he could only speak to me in Spanish so that I could practice and he could correct me when needed. Needless to say, I sat around with a Spanish Dictionary at arms length.

Meet Elias, while he is making dinner and giving me a Spanish lesson!

With yet another nest to add to the hatchery, last nights patrol was was joined by Isa and her husband Adolfo. Isa, Adolfo, Santos, and Santo's son came by while dinner was being prepped and we were talking about patrols and patrol times, turtles, and and how I understand and speak a little Spanish (but I'm getting better).

At 1:45 my alarm went off and I was out of bed and ready to walk the beach, kind of, I was really sleepy. Elias ended up not patrolling with us, something had happened to his foot a couple days before and it was still hurting him. I thought patrol was going to end up being a dud. We had gotten to the north end of the beach and had not seen anything, however, walking back to the house I smelled the turtle! I started to slow down and I was looking behind me to make sure that there wasn't a track that I had missed because I knew she was near. I think that smelling the turtle must be some weird spidey sense and I was just getting hopeful for yet another turtle. So we kept walking and next thing I knew everyone had stopped, after walking about 10 more meters there was the up track! Steph was excited because she was able to see the track, I was excited because I was able to smell the turtle (oh the little things that excite us at 3 AM). She had just started to dig her nest and so we prepped to get her eggs and take her measurements (have plans to walk to the office today to get some more tags!!).

We ended up getting him about 5 AM and were just beginning to see the sunrise. I went to go lay down in bed, Elias said he was leaving early to ride his bike back to the office and I wanted to make breakfast as a thank you for making us dinner. But here I am currently writing a blog post at 8 am while everyone is still sleeping. We had plans today people wake up!!! I've learned that I feel guilty waking people up.



Katharina, Luisa, and Steph getting some treats from the pulperia in Javilla after eating lunch at Laguna Mar