May 23, 2016

Galibi Leatherback Turtles

Amots unusual shot - not the poportion - but a hatchling (from a different mother) next to a leatherback that just nested eggs!

In remote Galibi, a briefing was given along the banks of the Marowijne River, no loud talking, no lights.  It felt like we were about to board a ship under night cover for an impending battle. 

Dark with some starlight, windy, the waves seem to be lapping on the shore stronger and stronger.   In two motorized canoes we traveled for about an hour in silence - all fifteen of us plus two guides. Eventually we landed on the Galibi Nature Reserve beach at the corner facing the Atlantic Ocean and the Marowigne River.  About 50 yards away, from a dark lit cabin, emerged silhouettes of motion: two men and a woman – park reserve security patrol.

Then our trek began, looking for sand marks that would indicate the presence of a sea turtle.  Our guide, an Amerindian, fluent in English scouted ahead for a sand hump – a sign that a sea turtle is nesting.  Twenty minutes later, with two signal flashes, he beckoned us to come nearer to a bush.

One by one in a line we tiptoed in the sand, knelt, and saw a National Geographic scene.  Spotlighted from behind with a single hand-held flashlight, we saw a leatherback laying white golf-size eggs in a dugout hole. We were told we can touch the leatherback turtle’s back and the flippers as the sea turtle is in trance when laying eggs.  Actually a no no as I found it later.

After she has deposited all her eggs, she woke up from her trance and began to flap her front and black flippers to brush back the sand and cover her underground nest.  She will return to the sea in a few hours.

Boats in the town of Albina for trips along the river including Galibi
The two Carib villages of Galibi, Christiaankondre and Langamankondre, are situated on the North East coast of Suriname approximately an hour and a half by boat from the town of Albina.   There are no roads to Galibi.   

The best time to view the nesting is from April to July.   

Two to three months later, the eggs will hatch from July to August.

Here is a video in German that will give you a visual idea

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