By Rosie Molinary on June 1, 2009
Five summers ago at this time, I was in Trinidad with 10 college students and one other group leader. We were there to work with the Nature Seekers, an organization that was created to protect the endangered Leatherback turtle. The turtles, as you can see from this picture, are some of the oldest animals still in existence on Earth and they are enormous– some the size of VW bugs without the wheels, it seemed like. Our job was to walk the beaches of Matura, Trinidad at night– from about 7 pm until 3 am– and check on the Leatherback turtles who came into nest. When we came across a turtle, we would wait until she was nesting to perform our work (the turtles went into a trancelike state while they laid their eggs). Then, we would check her for flipper tags and a microchip and if she didn’t have either, tag her and micro-chip her.
When she finished laying her eggs, we would make sure she did a good job of covering those eggs so that the nest had a better chance of lasting the 90-ish day incubation period without predators or waves damaging it. We worked in teams of three and walked an assigned area of the beach for hours, taking in the magic of this creature. There were times where we moved to tears to be involved in something so primal, so real, something that had been going on for thousands of years. All of us left Trinidad in awe of the turtles and in awe of the Nature Seekers. While in Trinidad, we stayed with a wonderful woman, Suzan Baptiste, who was instrumental in starting the group. She was gracious in her hosting, feed us well, and taught us plenty. Today, I learned that Suzan Baptiste has been nominated as a CNN Hero. It’s an honor that is well-deserved. I thought you might be interested in learning more about this incredible effort. Check out the video here. Want to go? Here are the details.