Super patrol

The super patrol covered Mile 5-7 from 8pm-3am. However, the first group went and did not find any turtles within that distance. Instead they worked with turtles that came up between Mile 4-5. This week, there was a slight change, covering mainly Mile 4-5 and only go beyond Mile 5 if there was no turtle.

It was my turn this week. Mine was with Geiner from 9.30pm-4am. Most of us had not been on a patrol for more than four hours. The night before my patrol, Carolyn and Bjorn were on the super patrol. Apparently they came across a turtle being attacked by a jaguar. They had checked twice on the turtle and it was fine. When they went up to it the third time, it was not moving and Bjorn saw a pool of dark-coloured sand beside its head. He flashed the light on it and realised it was wet and there was a huge hole on its neck – a jaguar just attacked it!!! For the rest of the night, they were not able to work in peace, fearing that the jaguar might show up again. Every noise freaked them out! They went back again during the day to check on the turtle. It was still alive, struggling to crawl back to the sea. They did not know what to do as it would not survive in the sea but it was still breathing. The rangers were on their patrol. They ended the turtle’s life by shooting it with a gun. I cannot imagine the pain it had endured for more than 6 hours!

When it was my turn to do the super patrol, I had fear of coming across a jaguar. Geiner said he was going to get a bigger machete (parang) but he came back with a Swiss knife. It was a good night though as the sky was clear, lots of stars and not hot. We only saw one turtle track near to the station but it was on its way up. We continued walking until Mile 4 and found our first turtle. Turtle’s slaps usually landed on my shoes. For the first time, a turtle managed to slap me on my leg and damn, it was really forceful! We came across the other group – Ani, Bernardo and Debra, trying to work with a turtle that was going round and round. It almost walked over the backpack and calliber. I quickly ran forward to grab them but I did not have the light on, hence missed a log sticking out of the ground and bang right into it. My left leg hurt like shit. It was swollen immediately! In my head, I was thinking, scheisse, more bruises!

I was glad that we did not have to walk past Mile 5 as there were many turtles between Mile 4 and 5. We both managed to work with ten turtles and seven of them were new turtles without tags. One of the turtles was probably a renester as its tag showed 122260 but her left front flipper was shorter than the right one and there was notch on her left rear flipper. We assumed that she was probably bitten by a shark.

After working with turtle number 8, we saw a new track on the way down. Geiner checked it and said it was limpiando so we decided to walk to Mile 5 and come back for it later. Before we reached Mile 5, we worked with our last two turtles before walking back to the one that was limpiando. It was camouflaging when we reached so I checked for tags. When I was searching for a spot to step in beside it, the bodypit and vegetation around it looked familiar. The tag – 123145 also sounded familiar. I checked the book and noticed that this turtle was tagged earlier. We were both confused because did I just tag it, walked down, found a new track and Geiner went back up and checked the same turtle? It was like deja-vu! We both could not figure it out though. Weird…

On our way back, we found another turtle that was camouflaging and it did not have tags. I tagged her and she moved furiously and left immediately, causing me to notch her right flipper. She already had a notch on the first scale (not from tag), probably a bite from the shark. I wondered if that is the reason she behaved so aggressively when its flippers were touched. I tagged again, she moved and I did not manage to close the tag so Geiner removed it. He tried to tag but it moved so frantically that he too made a notch on its left flipper. We decided to leave it alone. We destroyed two tags and lost one. I always feel bad when I leave a notch on the flippers!!!

We got back shortly past 4am. The super patrol was not bad at all! I thought it would be very exhausting but it was ok. Moreover, we did not even have a biscuit break! However, the tiredness kicked in later! I could not even drag myself out of bed for lunch at 12pm!! I felt really sleepy!

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