Nothing says, “Bienvendidos a Culebra, Puerto Rico” like “Oh, remember last night when you were looking for turtles but were unsuccessful? Yea, there were some around the corner.”
However, today was our first full day in Puerto Rico! We finally settled into our house on Culebra and started our day around 9am with a lecture by Ricardo, one of the members of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. During this lecture we were informed that a leatherback turtle had nested just around the corner from were we patrolled last night. We also learned about the different areas of Culebra that are set aside to preserve certain wildlife such as birds, turtles, lizards and snakes as well as plants like an endemic cactus only found here on the island.
After the lecture, our instructors took us to one of the most popular beaches on the island named Flamenco Beach. This was some of the clearest waters some of us had ever seen! It didn’t seem real. It was too good to be true. Crystal clear green and blue water, bright sun, coconut trees and beautiful mountains…. what more could we ask for? After playing around in the water, we figured it was time for lunch. We all enjoyed various dishes, and most of us enjoyed fruit smoothies. Today being a “chill day” as well as an introduction to snorkeling, we ventured to a second beach named Tamarindo.
Tamarindo beach was as scenic as Flamenco. Here we snorkeled with coral reefs and sea grass in the hopes of finding foraging sea turtles. A few groups were lucky enough to see green sea turtles, but not everyone. Examples of other marine life we were able to see were stingrays, sea biscuits, starfish, barracudas, long-spined urchins, and a queen conch!
Once snorkeling at Tamarindo was concluded, we came back to the house where everyone took showers and relaxed before dinner. We ate pizza for dinner around 7, waiting for the arrival of Carlos, our host, who was planning to give a lecture. Unfortunately, he had some delays in arriving on Culebra and was unable to take the ferry from the main island of Puerto Rico until 9pm. With his delay, we were unable to fit in the lecture tonight and decided to retire early because we have to leave the house by 6:30am to patrol two different beaches for leatherback nests.
Even though there were a few bumps in the road, everyone is having a great time and learning a lot. Today was super exhausting, but it’s only just begun! We can’t wait to see what’s next. Hasta luego. Adios!
Click for our video of Snorkeling with Sea Turtles: medium