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Dawn - Playa San Miguel Costa Rica

Dawn – Playa San Miguel Costa Rica

Ailsa’s theme for this week is beaches, and I am blessed to have spent a large part of the past dozen years along the beaches of Central and South America.   This post reflects the rewards of visiting the beach in the magical hours at the beginning and end of each day.

Dawn reveals the history of the night!

Dawn reveals the history of the night; many locals still raid turtle nests along the Pacific Coast.  (Playa San Miguel Costa Rica)

Playa Rosada Nicaragua - Thieves raided this turtle nest as well.

Playa Rosada Nicaragua – Thieves raided this turtle nest as well.

The ocean often tosses more than driftwood on the beaches.

"Pelagic Sea Snake"

“Pelagic Sea Snake”

Turtles die from illegal shrimp nets from boats too close to shore.  This is wrong.

Turtles die from boats trawling too close to shore with illegal shrimp nets. This is wrong.

During one rainy season at Playa San Miguel Costa Rica, the resident marine biologist flagged me down about an hour before sunset, “Lisa! There’s a turtle nesting!”  

Jeff gave me directions and immediately dashed away.  I abandoned my task, grabbed my camera and dashed after him!  I had been patrolling the beach at night with the ‘turtle patrol’ and had captured a few sea turtles at dawn, but had yet to catch one in good light.

dawn surprise

dawn surprise

Most sea turtles nest beneath the cloak of darkness, but this lady was anxious to play her role in propagating her species! A small crowd gathered and watched in hushed silence as she operated in trance mode, dug her nest, laid her eggs, covered them, camouflaged the nest, then returned to the sea.

Wanting to catch that egg-dropping moment, I sprawled out at sand level and focused on the dark pit beneath the turtle.

P1160601 lisa she's going to get you
“Lisa. She’s going to get you,” Jeff warned.
“I know,” I replied without taking my eyes off the target.

P1160602 lisa she's going to get you

“Lisa….” he warned.
“I know,” I smiled, “It will be worth it..”

P1160609 she's going to get you

About that time the turtle’s flipper slung a cloud of sand in my face – and in the camera’s.
We all laughed, and yes, I got some great photos!

Hopefully these children will grow up and help fight for nature's rights.

Hopefully these children will grow up and help fight for nature’s rights.

P1160629 sunset nesting olive ridley

The eggs are collected and buried in a nest of equal depth in the nearby hatchery.

The eggs are collected and buried in a nest of equal depth in the nearby hatchery.

Covering her nest.

Covering her nest.

Eggs gathered, measurements taken, turtle tagges;  time for Mama to go home!

Eggs gathered, measurements taken, turtle tagged; time for Mama to go home!

Surely these children will grow up to treasure the marine environment.

Surely these children will grow up to treasure the marine environment. How can we teach them to speak up for nature’s rights?

Every so often the camera goes into an in/out/in/out/in/out mode and then says, ‘Remove lens cap and push any button.”
The years are magically wiped away, and I am again at Playa San Miguel and witnessing a primal event so sacred that it was worth risking my camera!
At times a camera shop corrects the problem, and all is fine until Life decides to remind me of that mystical evening when I had the honor of being baptized with beach sand by an olive ridley sea turtle!

olive ridley sunset nestingggggggg

This turtle began her life here as a hatchling; around age 12, she answered the primal call that nudged her home.

A dozen years later she returns to her beach of origin to continue the cycle

A dozen years later she joins others and returns to her beach of origin to continue the cycle

olive ridley sunset nestingggggggggggg

The odds are one in 2,000 hatchlings will survive to return to this beach. Some say the odds are worse.

After the turtle returned to her rightful place in the sea, and the sun sank beyond the horizon, an explosion of color ignited the sky.   There was no doubt that I was exactly where I was meant to be at that hour!

Sometimes a sunset stands on its own with no help from foreground images.

Sometimes a sunset stands on its own with no help from foreground images.

Thank you, Mother Nature!

For more information about the decline of the olive ridleys, see The Red-Light District and A Fragile Balance.

See more beach scenes at Alisa’s Travel Theme Beaches.

Have a good weekend, amigos!

PS.. Dear Doris just posted one about baby turtles as well! http://miartedoris.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/sea-turtle-release-south-padre-island/

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