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This weekend I had the greatest opportunity to cross another item off the ever-growing Bucket List: To wake up with the Leatherback Turtles on Grande Riviere Beach, Trinidad!

I’ve previously had the honour of visiting with the Leatherback Turtles at night, as the come onshore to lay their eggs… I’ve had the privilege of seeing the protected little hatchings before they are set free into the world, both occasions was in Matura… and on the first day of this year, I had the enjoyment of going on a roadtrip for the first time to Grande Riviere!

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But this past weekend, I was able to fulfil the actual bucket list item… to wake up at the break of dawn, and see the Turtles during the daylight! 

Leatherback Turtle Laying season in Trinidad and Tobago, is usually from March to June each year. We planned our trip to coincide this time period to hopefully have this opportunity to see the turtles again.. We started planning well in advance.. probably even planned it around the time of the last roadtrip to Grande Riviere. We booked our room to stay at the Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel, on the Grande Riviere Beach. A simple, yet beautiful hotel, with everything we could hope for, on the beachfront, with the calm winds and breaking of waves to put us to sleep… but more about that later 😉

Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel

Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel

At about 9:00 pm, we obtained our passes from the local conservation center, with a small contribution to help with the monitoring and protection of these beautiful creatures, and met up with our tour guides for the night. Within a minute, we saw our first leatherback turtle of the night, already in the process of laying her eggs. No flash photography is allowed, and torchlights, if needed, only with a red light, are what should be used. The bright lights will startle the turtles while they are in the process of preparing, laying and protecting her eggs. We were allowed, with the guidance of the Tour guides, to touch the turtle only during the process of her laying the eggs, as she would be concentrating on this task, and in that state of mind.

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We stayed on the beach for about two (2) hours and within that time period, were pointed out over ten (10) turtles, either coming onshore, in the process of laying her eggs, or bidding us farewell, just in the vicinity of where we were standing… we had no reason to walk to beach to “find them”… they were coming to us!

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We asked may questions, and received patient answers from the guides, who where mostly locals from the area and very knowledgeable, friendly and passionate about their jobs. The volunteers and tour guides advised that they are out all night, from 7pm to about 5am, but visitors are only allowed at night on the beach, with the guides until about 2am.

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We asked about during the morning time, as this was the actual Bucket List item… and were advised to get up very early as there’s always the possibility, but not a guarantee, that the turtles may be still coming up, at dawnbreak to lay their eggs along the beach.

AND how lucky for us, they were….

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Continue to here: PART 2

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