Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 6 - Mangroves

Date: 7/6/12
Start: Playa Blanca, Puerto Jimenez
End: Playa Blanca, Puerto Jimenez

COCK-A-DOODLE-DO. CA CAW, CA CAW. RUFF RUFF. That is how the natives (Rosters, Macaws, Dogs wake you in the morning – starting at 4am. Luckily I had another “x-mas” morning. - you know, when you wake up early and are energized.

I get up a little after 5am and walk outside… 500 ft in front of me I see the Gulf of Dulce. With the sunrise just rising beyond the mountains the water reflects most the sunlight directly into my eyes, as if just waking up was hard enough to open your eyes. I walk to the water for my first real view of “Costa Rica”. The shoreline is thinly lined with the playa (beach) and immediately turns green. This part of CR is known to have the rainforest “kiss” the ocean. (INTERESTING FACT: Because of this unique geographic area, non-governmental organizations (aka NGO) such as WIDECAST (WIDEr CAribbean Sea Turtle conservation network) fear the publicity of such information. Like a double-edged machete, tourists would bring in much needed money to the organization. However this would attract entrepreneurs to build and develop in an already delicate environment.

I am joined by Loba – the family dog (small and straggly - the kind that eats it's own poo) Slowly the rest of the group wakes up and heads to the beach for the sunrise – I’m pretty sure the animals woke them too. We head to la cocina (kitchen) where breakfast is about to be served. Cristina is the back, preparing each plate with rice and beans, plantains, spam-like meat and coffee. Yolanda teaches Ricardo and Paula and myself all about the process on how to capture, observe, sample and report all sorts of information regarding the turtle. I was slightly amazed at myself for already knowing so much information about these creatures. I feel that sometimes I just played the role of knowing all this turtle information over the years, but when it came down to it, I walked the walk.

Once finished, we joined Shay and Georgina at the mangroves. (Both volunteer staff for the last couple months. They are both leaving within the next week or so to continue on with their lives in Vermont and Spain respectively).

The Mangroves: This is a newer project/initiative for turtle conservation. During the dry season volunteers will start to collect red mangrove seedlings/pods from a nearby river. They take these and plant them in the nursery. Everyday they water them with a combination of rainwater and salt water. This mixture helps the plants prepare for the salinity when they are planted. After three to four months, they remove these plants from the nursery and take them to a muddy area about 1 mile away, where mangrove trees are sparse but already present. They plant them about every 1.5 meters from each other. They use a shovel and dig about 12” hole during low tide, so that the ground is bare (but would be covered 3ft during high tide). They place the mangrove in the hole and pack it back in with dirt. The thought behind this is that the mangroves will help trap sedimentation from the land and other run-off streams from entering into the gulf. This would in turn help promote the natural vegetation (sea grass) in the area, which Green Sea Turtles eat. Who knew planting trees could help turtles?

After the Mangroves, we headed back to lunch which Cristina prepared for us. After "mowing" down the food we take a little time to relax and head into town (and by town I mean the nearest place that has a grocery store). We walk about 3 miles along side a road and pass little shacks put together by old timber and plastic sheets. We stop into store and treat myself to some eggnog (the packaging looked appealing and I thought it said iced coffee) and some caramel bread goodness. The others where picking up some supplies to make burgers the following day for Georgina's departure.

After walking back , we relax for a little bit longer before retracing our steps a half mile to a restaurant for dinner. This place is owned and operated by Cristina's daugher. This place looks like a house, except the the living room does not have any walls, just supports for the roof and tables and chairs. Food was good and we enjoy some conversation over some coffee and Dora the Explorer, which is playing on the TV in the background. After almost being bitten alive, and watching a bat have a field day with the vampires that just bit us, we trot back in the thunderstorm back to our cabins. A couple of us stay up and watch Old School, via my Mac and Ricardo's iPod. Sleep.

Word of the day: Yo Tango – I have

Turtle Fact:  Did to you know that while Leatherback turtles (the largest of the sea turtles) lay their eggs, they go into a trance where it is nearly impossible to make them stop (aka, you could sing and dance in front of them turtle laying eggs and it will just continue doing what it’s doing. On the other hand, the Green Sea and Hawksbill sea turtle will stop immediately laying eggs once disturbed.

  • (so I hear and have seen today) Every morning it’s sunny. Around 2pm the clouds roll in and by 4pm it’s raining until at least 10pm.
  • Make sure to use the words you may already know to read packaging. Don't just base things off pictures.
  • When helping support animals and conservation, don't overlook the plant side of things
  • The weather here really is on a daily schedule.
Food:  Pasta with Seafood

Animals: Chickens/Roosters, Caterpillars, Dogs  

Something I don't want to admit: My body is doing something weird. Everything feels/acts fine, except going #2. The fact is, I never have to... I mean I have drunken and eaten about a coconut a day and still nothing. Sorry, that was probably too much information, but if I am going to keep a dairy/journal this had to be in it.  

Days of Rain: 3/3 – thunderstorm

Baby Mangrove just planted

Learning all about gathering information from Turtles

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