We were walking the dogs along the beach one evening when Andrea frantically ran towards us bringing news from Glenn. Glenn is a friend on the island who acts as a guardian to the Hawksbill turtle nests on Pumpkin Hill beach and had discovered one was soon to hatch! When we arrived at the nest site we were greeted by Glenn’s dog. This dog has been trained to act as a turtle body guard and patiently sits with the hatching turtles, keeping away other dogs and even the occasional crab that might make a meal of the hatchlings. It’s very cute to see how protective she is of the nests.

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Judy watching and waiting for the turtles to emerge

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Just as eager as the dog to see the turtles

Our initial hurry to get to the nest seemed somewhat ridiculous after we spent the first hour staring at a nondescript patch of sand, waiting for action. It was after this time that we saw the first bit of movement, half an hour later the first turtle struggled its way to the surface of the nest, followed by swarms and swarms of the beautiful creatures, all frantically and gracelessly crawling to the water’s edge.

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An hour later and we were still waiting… now with extra layers because of the cold!

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Finally they began to emerge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The lucky turtle who saw the world before the others!

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Not long after the rest followed

Our job was basically to herd them towards the sea. We created a runway using driftwood and palms to make sure they took a direct route and didn’t extend the already 20 meters run to the water. A few of the weaker turtles needed some encouragement and a few unlucky ones fell over onto their backs during the struggle. Fortunately we were on hand to help them out.

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The runway we created to guide the turtles to their new home

The turtles are clearly poor planners as they picked a day with a particularly rough tide on which to hatch. This meant that most of them had quite a hard time breaking out into the surf without being dumped right back on the beach. One in particular found the trip pretty tough as it had a little stumpy flipper. After a good while watching him run around in circles I gave in and helped him into the ocean. As a general rule it’s best not to interfere too much with nature and it can sometimes be best to let it take its course, however with the Hawksbill Turtle being endangered I thought saving the weaker ones and giving them even the tiniest of chances was worth depriving one of the many crabs a meal they didn’t particularly need!

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The turtle I helped out

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Making their way to the sea together

I have been here such a short time and to be able to witness something this incredible makes me feel unfathomably lucky. I only have a few weeks left on the island and to have my part in escorting 177 endangered turtles safely to the sea is an honour I did not expect. This island has such an amazing range of wildlife and its awesome to be able to play a part in preserving that.

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I hope I gave my new friend a good start to life. Good luck little one!

 

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