Day 4 (Thurs., 4/23/09) – Early Rise

Rise and shine at six in the morning to enjoy a quick bite to eat and a cozy bus ride with twenty five people to tour various conservation efforts in Trinidad.

We woke up early to get on a 25-seat bus to explore the northern part of Trinidad.  While on the bus we traveled through Galera, Matelot, and Grande Rivier before returning to Matura.  At Galera we stopped to take some pictures by the lighthouse and out on the rocky coast that suspended us about 50 feet above the huge breaking waves.  We got a quick group picture before some of us decided to get in touch with our inner child by climbing a gnarled tree. We then traveled to the fishing town of Matelot.  Some of the fishermen came to talk to us about the perils of being a fisherman in Trinidad and shocked us all with the story that yesterday, a group of fishermen were struck by a large Korean ship in the dark of the night and that the only thing that saved the men was that the Korean ship was stopped by the fishermen’s nets in the water. They also told us about the new techniques to fishing that they are developing alongside Scott Eckert to keep the bycatch of the turtles down while the fishing quantities up.  The efforts look promising.  When we got to Grande Riviere we first went into a luxurious building with multiple fans to keep us cool.  The main conservationists came and talked to us about the unique qualities of the beach and how they are getting around 200 turtles a night and it’s not even the peak of the season yet! However, the turtles are digging up each other’s nests and they are currently working on a plan to fix this problem. We then went to the picturesque beach that looked like it was straight out of a travel magazine and went swimming in the cool ocean.  We all had so much fun that it was not a problem when we were tossed around in the waves, doing flips in the water when we did not mean to.  The end of the beach experience was the best, though, because just as we were about to leave a leatherback came up on the beach to nest.  She was bright pink underneath her carapace and it was great to see what they look like in the daylight hours. The bus ride back to

Matura was trying for our empty stomachs but as always a delicious meal was awaiting us at Suzan’s Guest House. We ate our fill, a fight nearly breaking out over the sudden apparition of doughnuts, and headed off to the beach. Our team hurried over the smooth sand in search of turtle tracks but found only a pair of bare feet leading up into the dunes. We found our Nature Seeker friend Francis and sat with him through rain and riddles, waiting for the turtles to arrive. If you riddle, they will come. Well sure enough that’s what they did and soon we were up to our knees in turtles. Only one was large enough for our ‘Big Momma’ study but we called the other groups to Zone 12 and it was a Marine Lab reunion until midnight when we headed in for some R&R, all looking forward to the days ahead.