This past week has gone by in such a blur – I’ve now been here for a whole month, can you believe it?
Last weekend a group of us were in town to do a whale watching tour. We almost didn’t make it as there was an almighty rain storm on Friday night and both the morning and afternoon buses were cancelled. We managed to commandeer a 4×4 driver, and made it into town at about 7pm. The tour started at 7:30 on Sunday morning, and so we all walked down to the harbour to get on the little boat. We went out into the Gulfe Dulce, so called because of it’s fresh water, which attracts many marine species for feeding and raising their young.
September is prime season for Humpback whales, and we were lucky enough to see two mothers with their young, as well as hearing the males under the water singing their ‘mating songs’. Humpback whales from different regions each have their own song to attract a mate, and the longer and more complicated the song, the more impressive it is. The songs that the males sing in the Gulf is especially long, which they think is because the acoustics of the Gulf as so perfect and the song bounces of the coastline. After we had chased the whales around a bit, we went closer to the shore line to see if we could find the dolphins that live in the Gulf. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find them in their usual feeding spot, but we went snorkelling over the reef and saw some amazing fish and even a Hawksbill turtle too! Our tour guide then produced some delicious pineapple and watermelon, much to my delight, and we began to make our way back to Puerto Jimenez on the other side of the gulf.
Charlotte and I returned to a quiet camp on Monday on the morning collectivo, and jumped straight in to doing surveys again, as this week there were only 3 volunteers (a new one who arrived on Tuesday) and 3 leaders. I had a great time on a Primates trail on Wednesday as we saw loads of Toucans and a troop of Spider monkeys too, with 3 juveniles being carried by their mothers. I managed to get some decent pictures, which I was really happy about. It’s been lovely the past few days after a wet start to the week, with the sun has been shining all morning and well into the afternoon. It’s almost been too good – I’m still anxiously awaiting the start of the wet season….
That said, we did a huge beach clean with a lot of people from the local community on Friday morning, and it was so hot on the sand that we couldn’t take our shoes off. I also achieved some serious tan lines – the watch tan situation is becoming ever more pronounced. People from 3 different conservation groups, including ourselves, were on the beach, along with people from Carate and even some student from the University in San Jose. The beach clean started at around 7am, and we weren’t finished until 11. The local Firemen went along the beach with us, keeping us well stocked with water and emptying our bags of the plastic we were picking up. When we reached the end of the beach we were all ferried back to the local school, which is just along from our camp, where we were fed tomales and fruit. The tomales were interesting – they are made with maiz flour and potato, and filled with rice and veg or meat. They have quite a strange texture from the maiz flour, and I’m not sure I’d rush to eat another! But I did eat my bodyweight in Watermelon, so it was just fine. After that, we then all had to pose for some photos with everyone who had been involved in the clean, many of whom had also made some posters about ocean plastic and keeping the beaches clean. Apparently, there was about 70 of us on the beaches helping to clean them up, and between us we covered almost 9k of beach! It was a long and hot morning, but also a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, the beach will definitely be covered in plastic again within a few days. The amount of water bottles, plastic cutlery, toothbrushes, and random bits and pieces is just shocking – and that’s only one stretch of beach in one corner of the world. I fear to think how much plastic is actually in the ocean.
The other highlight of this week was stumbling across a Turtle nest just as the baby turtles were coming out! It can take up to 3 days once the turtles have hatched for them to make their way to the surface of the sand as the nests are usually about 30-40cm deep, sometimes more. To see hatchlings coming out of the nest is very rare, so we were lucky to arrive at that moment. We sat and watched all the turtles emerge, making sure they all made it safely to the ocean by chasing a few birds and crabs away. I counted 115 baby Olive Ridley turtles in total – a big nest. If you haven’t seen the time lapse on Instagram, it’s on either @tinytinch98 or also the Frontier page @frontiercostarica.
This next week is going to be EVEN QUIETER on camp, as Charlotte, the other volunteer who arrived with me, has left this weekend. Our turtle man has also left this week for a visa run/holiday, so there will be a lot of turtle work to fill in for! Let’s hope for good weather and sunny mornings on the beach, as spending 3 hours or more excavating nests in the rain is not really all that joyous…
My family tells me it’s getting colder in England, so her are some of my 34 degree besos,