Turtles ... lots of them

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Paul Tallet
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Turtles ... lots of them

Post by Paul Tallet » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:22 pm

It is about 3 weeks since I have returned from Tobago ... I think it was my 10th visit. I have been mulling over it and now I am ready to post reviews.

The thing is that I was beginning to question whether I should try other places like Thailand, Indonesia, India ... I have never been to the far east ... I dread the thought that I have tunnel-vision and, until now, I was going to take a trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2019 to try and see some of the eco-environment that you see on TV.

My last visit to Tobago changed that ... my last visit was very special ... more special than what you see on TV.

Throughout the holiday we were offered to join various 'Turtle Watches' and we were made aware of some rather inaccessible places around Tobago to be able to see Turtles nesting (i.e. Starfish Bay near Speyside is quite popular for Turtles).

The other option was to pay an extortionate price to get a phone call and rush down to Turtle Beach to see one single Leatherback surrounded by and distracted by loads of onlookers.

Our host, Ancle, of the Naturalist Beach Resort cautioned us about this ... he had something up his sleeve!!

In our 3rd week Ancle took us on a trip to Trinidad. We took the Ferry and Ancle drove (and got lost!) We suggested a map might help but, no, Ancle rang all his friends and got the directions.

After 14 hours we finished up on the north coast of Trinidad in a place called Grande Riviere and we visited the beach ... now we knew what Ancle's surprise was ... but we were not allowed on the beach without a permit ... was this ordeal worth it?

After much haggling (I won't even start to go into the politics about getting a simple permit to go on a beach other than to say get one before you get there!) ... we secured our permits and a trusty guide who led us down to one of the most indescribable experiences I have had in my life ... not even Ancle was able to comprehend what happened in the following hour.

In the space of one hour no less than 6 Leatherback Turtles came up on this beach (in our area ... goodness know what was going on around the rest of the beach!!) and layed eggs, not to mention Hawkbilled and Green Turtles. And, as we were half way through the Turtle season we were blessed with the sight of little hatchlings scurrying down the sand to reach the sea.

We were able to hold them as they wagged their flippers and we were able to touch the giant Leatherback females as they went into 'egg mode' without disturbing them. Apparently they are in alot of pain while laying their eggs.

It was so frantic that we were all scared of stepping on something. The guides used red lights to ensure the Turtles were not disturbed and they were trying their best to record and measure each Turtle ... apparently they cannot be tagged as babies so little is known about their whereabouts before they return to lay their eggs on the very beach that they were born.

It was an awesome experience ... I did not feel worthy of the privilege of this ... so if you are visiting Tobago, don't forget that Trinidad is just next door and a £10 ferry trip away ... there are many tour operators that will take you there (including the tour operators on this website) ... and there are many sights to see such as Asa Wright Nature Reserve, the Caroni Swamp and hikes along the north coast (hearing the howler monkeys) ... and during Turtle season ... Grande Riveire.

I know it's not Tobago but I had to share it.

Trinidad and Tobago have so much to offer ... I am now convinced I need not go elsewhere unless someone else has any ideas? ... I don't think I can see the Galapagos any better than on the TV :?

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Paul Tallet
Public Relations Consultant for Mother Nature

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Re: Turtles ... lots of them

Post by BethanyHughes » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:09 am

Great post, Paul. I love turtles and I'm sure I'm gonna love Tobago too.

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Re: Turtles ... lots of them

Post by Roger D. » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:33 am

Hey Sir Paul! - I've always wanted to do that. I've been to Grande Riviere before and what a spectacular place it is. Its on my to do list. Hope all is well.

Roger D.

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Re: Turtles ... lots of them

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:12 pm

Gosh Roger, this is an old post but very timely of you to bring it up.

If anyone wants to experience this you need to register with the Trinidad Grande Riviere site (google it) and book your intentions to visit. The beach is under strict control and you will be refused access without a permit.

I visited this beach some time in June/July which is the peak of the turtle season. From what I could see/feel, the beach was absolutely rammed full of egg laying Turtles and you had to watch where you were walking. Sadly, I cannot see myself visiting Tobago at this time of year again ... who knows.

It is also possible to see turtles on most of Tobago's beaches but it is more to do with where and when rather than being assured of walking onto a beach with large numbers of nesting Turtles.

If you want to be prepared, do not take torches or use flash photography. Night vision cameras/camcorders are OK.

Regards
Paul Tallet
Public Relations Consultant for Mother Nature

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