Enviro Internship: Lending a Hand to Sea Turtles
Adrienne, one of my co-workers on the Web team, just sent this wonderful report from Japan where she's halfway through a two-month long environmental internship with Umigame-kan Organization (translated) on Yakushima Island.
On July 26, 2007 I saw my first baby sea turtle emerge from its nest. One minute there was nothing and in the next second there were two nostrils poking up through the sand. I knelt in the sand to take a closer look. As I got closer, I saw a full baby's face looking back at me. I smiled with glee. Next, its two front arms appeared. It used its arms to pull its body up out of the sand. I could not believe what I was witnessing. To make things even more rewarding, four more babies followed. They used each other's heads like a ladder to climb out of the nest. I found this quite amusing.
I was amazed to see how strong the babies' instincts were to head straight to the sea. Some of the babies emerged with their back to the sea, but instantly turned around and headed straight to the shoreline. I followed close behind. The five babies moved quickly. They had a lot of energy for how small they were. If I took my eyes off for one minute, I would lose them. I could not help but giggle at the site of their speedy movements. I cheered, "Go baby, Go!"
After climbing over all of the dimples, footprints and debris in the sand, they arrived at the water's edge. I witnessed them touch the water for the first time. The tide washed up and they got their toes wet. They stopped and waited for the next water surge. They stepped a little closer. The next wave approached and pulled them into the sea, tossing them around then throwing them back onto the sand. Again, the turtles moved closer. The next surge came and instantly the babies were out of my sight. They were off to start their journey in the sea. I turned around with my back to the sea and felt the biggest grin on my face. I was so honored to witness the next generation of sea turtles return to sea.
For the last four weeks I have been working as a volunteer with the Umigame-kan Organization, Yakushima, Japan. I have been involved with everything from documenting the landing of sea turtles, to rescuing sea turtles caught in the breakwall rocks. I have helped sea turtles dig nests due to missing limbs, and I have also rescued eggs that were exposed by the July 13, 2007 typhoon. All of these experiences have been life changing. Now that the babies have arrived, I can only imagine what the next three weeks will bring.
[We miss you Adrienne. Keep up the great work.]