Crabs, Crocodiles and an Egg Hunt in Costa Rica

Cory Roeber ’15, a Sociology and Economics double major, wrote us from Costa Rica where he took “Exploring Sustainability and Development in Costa Rica” with professors Diane Beres and Soren Hauge.

As our trip begins to wind down we only had a couple stops left in our itinerary. While in La Ensenada we embarked on one of the more exciting and interesting parts of our trip. We took a mangrove boat tour in the early morning where we saw a multitude of different animals. My favorite part had to have been as our boat cruised along the water, pelicans took flight and soared next to our boat for a few seconds, creating a picture perfect sight. Also on the tour we were able to see the different systems that these mangrove trees are able to live and thrive in, along with the natural environment they created for wildlife. Crocodiles were an interesting sight as we chugged along further into the mangroves, and we even happened upon a bird’s nest nestled in the thicket of mangroves with two eggs still in it, as we believe the mom sat and watched us from a branch further ahead. It was one of the easiest times to see wildlife early in the morning. Birds were everywhere, crabs and crocodiles were abundant and it was extremely interesting seeing the combination of salt and fresh water in the mangroves and the environment and community they create.

At our last stop before heading back to San Jose we had the pleasure of witnessing one of the oldest species of animals in the world create a nest for her young and lay nine eggs. I am talking about the Green Sea Turtle. We went on a turtle walk with two local guides who took us down to the beach and explained the rules regarding the Sea Turtles and if we happened to be lucky enough to see one what we should do.

The number one rule was no flash photography and that in general our flashlights that we brought should be off at all times on the beach. At the first beach one of our local guides walked off in search of Sea Turtle tracks or a Sea Turtle. While that happened we received some facts and history of the area, the beaches and the Sea Turtles from our remaining local guide. The first guide came back unfortunately reporting to us that no Sea Turtles were found but there was another beach that we could go to if we wanted to. We agreed and headed up a forest path to the second beach. Once we arrived we followed single file down the beach until we happened upon another small group and their guides clustered around the edge of the forest.

Excitedly our guide hurried over to them and returned to tell us that indeed a Sea Turtle was currently nesting ahead. As we waited our turn we felt the lightest bit of rain, but in Costa Rica we all knew what that meant. Getting our raincoats out it started to downpour as lightning flashed in the distance. As the first group left we approached slowly to see the Sea Turtle kicking sand out with her flippers as she dug in the sand to deposit her eggs. After about 30 minutes she became ready to deposit her eggs, one of the most exciting parts of the process. We were extremely fortunate to not just find a Sea turtle, but also to witness her depositing eggs. We were truly lucky. After we witnessed the eggs being deposited we headed back to our original beach and our car. It was truly an amazing experience, and for many of us something that we would cross off of our bucket list.

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