Photo courtesy of Andrea G. You're only supposed to use red lights around the turtles as the white lights can be very disorienting for them, however Andrea's camera went all wonky and the flash went off by accident. I however am not above sharing this amazing accidental photo.
One of the truly amazing experiences of the trip was going on a Turtle Tour. We signed up through Casa d'Oro in SJDS to go see baby sea turtles hatching. For $25 we showed up around 6pm and were treated to an informational slide show before loading up on two trucks.
It was a very bumpy hour long ride to the beach. The seats weren't padded, there was no gate in the back of the truck, and our rider must have thought that a roller coaster like experience would really enhance the trip. So after an hour of holding on for dear life and sucking in dust, we showed up at the beach. We were put in pairs and given red lights to be used on the beach. They first showed us two baskets of baby turtles that had hatched during the day and were collected to be released at night (when its safer for them) and then we made our way to the beach.
After being split into two large groups, our guide released the turtles 200m away from the water's edge and we were able to cheer them on as they made their way arduously to the water. The act of pulling themselves across the sand helps build up their swimming skills so even though it was painfully slow to watch their progress we couldn't help them if we wanted them to have a good chance of survival once they reached the water. After seeing all 20 or so make their way into the ocean we walked out along the beach and were able to see several different nests hatching. At once point we were so engrossed watching all the turtles make their way out of the sand that we didn't realize another nest was popping out five feet to our left. It was amazing to be able to be part of this experience, observing the whole process. At one point I just went and stood down by the water, the best part for me was watching them finally reach the water and have the waves sweep them away, while it was the conclusion for us it was only the beginning for them.