After a long night of leatherback tagging and data collecting for our research projects, we went to bed around 2 a.m. We woke up promptly at 6:30 a.m. to eat breakfast and get on our van by 7:15 a.m., so that we could spend a full day in the north of Trinidad. Our first stop was in Galara point, Toco were one of the oldest lighthouses in Trinidad is. The Galera Point Lighthouse was established in 1867 and is situated on a stunning cliff at the point where the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea meet. It is also the dividing point for the beaches were leatherback sea turtles nest. After sitting on the cliffs and admiring the breaking waves, everyone hopped back onto the van to head to Grand Riviere.
We arrived at the Grand Riviere Nature Tour Guides Association (GRNTGA), which is the region’s leatherback conservation organization. We had a talk led by the leaders Nicholas Alexander and Kevin Mohammed, who told us about their struggle in maintaining the village residents and the biggest leatherback nesting beach in the world in harmony. As Community Based Organization they not only strive to conserve and care for the leatherbacks, but they do so in a manner that benefits the village, provides jobs, educates, and inspires people to contribute. Their struggles with funding and employees truly showed us how conservation not only requires a love of the animal, but patience, passion and honest communication.
After our talk we ate lunch prepared by Nicholas’ wife, and headed to the Grand Riviere river for a swim. After much marco polo playing and underwater gymnastics, we moved from freshwater to saltwater as we headed to the local beach. Although this beach is famous for leatherback nesting, even in the daylight, none were observed…although we had enough fun with the waves to make up for it. Our day ended with everyone napping on the way back home.