The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
We go walking on the beach!”
When you walk along a beach in the darkness for six hours, every night for a whole week it has a big impact.
There’s a shift.
First of all you change the way you walk. The sand slips under your shoes.
There’s an important schedule.
But you have to trust you feet, walking without seeing and keeping the pace.
Every hour two sweeps of the mile and a half section. A turtle takes about an hour from start to finish to approach the beach and leave again.
The hour becomes very important.
A mile and a half then a twenty minute stop then a mile and a half.
As you walk you have a lot on your mind.
First you are focussed on looking. But the beach changes the way you look. The starlight isn’t strong so it’s very dark and shadowy. You can see things, weird shapes. You imagination makes creatures of the flotsam and jetsam.
The world is a different place. You hear differently. The waves are dominant. Soothing, splashing, steady, regular, pounding.
Then there’s a change to the sand. Tiny tracks fanning out like a Christmas tree shape. Little brave, hatchlings on their first day of life. Working together to make it down the beach. For many it’s also their last day.
You figure out which section of the beach. Identify the nest. Then pick up the pace.
While you walk you need to talk. Talk about the turtles. Talk about the world. Talk about your life. Why you are here. What you hope to achieve. You talk to fill the silence, to keep awake. You talk to change the mood, to keep going.
The next track is the big one. A huge bulldozer marking the sand. Three hundred and fifty kilos being hefted across your path. Easy to see, easy to understand. A massive sign of a passage that has taken place for millions of years.
Now find the turtle. She’s hidden by the changes in light over the back of the beach. But the tracks lead there.
Now there is silence.
The focus has changed.
A moment of awe and wonder.
Thought before talk. Where has she been what is her story? What would she tell us?
Lie on the sand. Respectfully touch her flipper gently. Count the eggs. Plant the thermocouple. Measure her shell. Scan her digital pit tags. Avoid the flying sand. Leave her in peace.
When she’s done we secure the thermocouple and carefully mark the nest so that other people on the beach won’t disturb it or notice it.
The beach is a different place at night.
It changes you.
“Stay up all night to get lucky!”
Find out about turtle conservation here:
The Leatherback Trust
Read more about the trip
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...