Beachkeeper’s Diary #6
Another Island Note…
I am driving through an early morning rain. It is barely light. Heading south, I look over and see the salt boat loading up, consuming mountains of the white stuff deep in its holds.
I stop a few miles further at Kite Beach and park the car. It is time to kick off another season of looking for turtle nests.
Some of you may remember last year’s Beachkeeper’s Diary. These are accounts of mine spent as a volunteer for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire’s Beachkeeper program. It is my job to walk two miles of beach every Thursday morning from the dive site, Atlantis, to Hidden Beach, a conglomeration of rocks that denotes the end of prime turtle nesting at the southern end of Bonaire.
Tracks in the sand.
I am not too optimistic of finding any tracks today. After all, this is the first patrol of 2013, and while Hettie and others have started seeing behemoth loggerhead turtles while diving, it may be a few weeks before the first nesting is attempted. But it is just good to be back walking the sand again. I pass spots that were chosen as nest sites by sea turtles during the 2012 season. Here on Bonaire, the loggerheads are usually the first to nest, followed by hawksbill and green sea turtles. The nesting periods overlap, and with about a two month incubation period, the season runs from May to November.
Along my walk, I pick up trash. That’s part of the job. The world’s obsession with plastics is obvious as I gather bottles, caps, old razor handles and other minutia. And then there is discarded fishing line. Both plastics and line are dangerously detrimental to sea mammals and fish when ingested. Entrapment can be a real problem for turtles and some mistake floating plastic bags as jellyfish, a food that they relish. I end up gathering a small shopping bag of beach trash on this day. Last year, I just dumped the collected trash in the garbage cans at Kite Beach. But Bonaire now has a recycling center where batteries, electronics, metals, plastics, paper, aluminum and three colors of glass are collected. This is just what our tiny island needed. Most of it is sent abroad to countries around the world for reuse. Since the recycle center is on my route back to town, I can just dump the beach trash there when I head home.
But before I end my trek, I stop to admire a rainbow at Alligator Rock. It’s that magic time when early morning rain mixes with rising sunrays and splashes the primary colors over the cobalt blue sea. I drop my pack and do some yoga in the golden light. I’m the only person on the beach, and from this perspective, perhaps in the world. It’s going to be another good season. I wish the turtles success in their quest to perpetuate their kind. Namaste.