Some may call this Monday but as far as we were concerned this was turtle day. First was an early dash for breakfast, Jade taking a few of us for some roti's - very quickly cooked flat bread eaten with a light curry sauce. Yummy! Packs were then shouldered and we marched to the harbour to catch our speed boat out to the appropriately named 'Turtle island park'. With two boats loaded up we raced for 45 minutes until we came to a tiny island paradise which we would be staying at overnight. With the sun out and the temperature rising the sandy beech proved a popular attraction but our approaches to this activity ranged from oiling up and frying int he sun to hiding in the shade to avoid the UV rays. Either way it was a nice relaxing time. An area was marked out for snorkeling so Eleanor and I went for a swim to cool down. While we undoubtedly left our mark somehow on the island we should note that we didn't leave the sea completely unmarked, after mis-judging the water depth Eleanor can confirm that kicking coral generally results in score one for the coral, score minus one for the foot. As we were getting out of the sea the rain clouds which had been loitering around looking innocent spotted the moment for a down pour so we grabbed our kit and dashed to our hut.
Back at the hut we ate lunch and played cards. In an effort to swing the game in my favour I pulled out the local gin and local tonic we had picked up on the way back from breakfast and made sure Eleanor had more than her fair share. Landing on an empty stomach the gin made quick work of polluting our blood streams. I can't remember who won but given that I didn't write it in my diary I think this might tell it's own story. The weather picked up in the afternoon so I hired some snorkeling gear and went back to the beech to join Steve 'red eyes' in the water. While not expecting much I was pleasantly surprised with the wildlife under the water. Most of the coral had died but seemed to be making a come back and the happy sounds of parrot fish nibbling was a good sign that there was something worth eating at least.
We weren't here solely for the beech life however and the main attraction was yet to come: turtles. A time when I can happily use the plural without danger of contradiction. First we were called when a female was spotted laying her eggs on the beech. We all hurried out just in case it would be all over before we arrived but in typically turtle fashion she was taking here time. We huddle round while the ranger measured and tagged the turtle. A big beast! The eggs were collected in a bucket and all too soon we said goodbye to mother and took the eggs to the hatching ground where they are buried in sand in controlled (ish), but crucially safe, conditions. Judging by the date tags on the mounds it's a rare night to not have a turtle come to lay some eggs so each night they have a batch of little turtles to release and tonight was no exception. With us lining the route to the sea we formed up and waited for the bucket of mad little critters to be released. A single light out to sea was meant to tease them the right way and this seemed to work for the most part. The only drawback is that this is where the word PLURAL really applies - truly a shot gun approach to survival. Hundreds of tiny turtles driven by a deep seated evolutionary desire to simply leg it they ran in all directions. Since we weren't allowed any light we were soon surrounded by running turtles making stepping anywhere quite a gamble which I'm sure was lost on a least a couple of occasions. This, however, was small risk compared to the multitude of animals that would have called this a feast and soon they were splashing into the sea for hopefully a long and interesting life.