Turtle hatching in Palinuro

This is probably the most difficult post to write for me… Why? Because I would like to transmit you all the feelings that I have experienced in my last adventure! For the first time, I am not going to write the post in an impersonal way just explaining the facts that happened, but I am going to write them as Olga who lived them!

Do you remember that post about the marine turtle nest in Palinuro? You can check it here. Well, I had the opportunity to go there with a great biologist from the Zoological Station Anton Dohrn to check the temperature and apply the formula which gives us the prediction of the hatching day. Of course, the experience couldn’t finish there! I am a passionate about nature in general but there are some animals that are able of stealing my heart! This is one of those cases! How could I have gone there, check the sand and not come back for the hatching? I don’t know if I deserved it or if I just bothered too much the people… I just know that I was authorized to go! I was so happy! For the first time in my life I would be present in a turtle birth! I would see them leaving the sand and walking to the sea! I couldn’t believe!

I went to Palinuro with the people from the Zoological Station and they bring a surprise with them! We carried three small hatchlings with us! Actually, I cannot say that I saw for the first time baby turtles on a sandy beach but in a van in Portici! We controlled the temperature of the sand all the time and the first thing we did when we arrived in Palinuro was to free these animals. The sea was rough, but these tiny babies are so strong! This is a life lesson! C’mon, I am so afraid of lots of things and these 6cm of animal face an endless sea!!!

After this breathtaking experience, we came back to the beach and we started to prepare the camping. I met more people from the Zoological Station and also from Sea Shepherd organization. All of them were wonderful! I am writing this post and I am missing them a lot! Well, I suppose that you are already wondering why we do not let the hatching happens naturally? When the turtles are born they should follow the light that sea reflects. Unfortunately the human hand filled the nature with artificial lights and when they leave the sand they go in the wrong direction and most end up dying… Because we don’t want this to happen, here we are…

The days were filled with the watch shifts (yes, the nest wasn’t alone for a minute!), nice conversations among all the presents and many baths in the sea (yes, we also enjoyed the fact that we are living on a beach!). Indra also joined us! The lack of comfort didn’t seem to matter, we were happy there waiting to contribute in some way to nature that we are destroying…

One day, around one hundred high school students come to meet us and understand what we were doing there. Of course the experts explained everything, but I was given the chance to present Project M.A.R.E. for them! They were curious and interested! Actually, lots of people were curious about these non-Italian girls who decided to come to their country for helping in marine conservation. I think I was able to spread a little bit of marine love there :)

And finally the day that I was waiting for arrived! Around 22.00 a little bit of sand started to move … I cannot explain but my eyes just filled with tears! I didn’t know how such a simple moment could be so beautiful and touching! After, I saw a little bit of a black head and suddenly, a baby turtle! How exciting! Just a little while, and another turtle… Fantastic! And… a turtle volcano! 67 turtles hatched from the sand at the same time! There was no more time for distractions, this was the reason for us to be there! Some turtles were weighed and measured for scientific purposes. Then it was the moment for them to start walking to the sea. Even with the corridor flanked by dark plastics, some hatchlings didn’t follow the direction of the sea … We helped! And they started their journey… There is no picture that is able to show the joy in our faces, the smile in our lips, the shine in our eyes… Everybody was happy, I was super happy! How can I write this happiness here? Sorry, I can’t… If you want to understand me better, try to be present in a moment like this once in your life! I promise, you will not regret!

Don’t think our work finished in that moment! No! We have to continue with the shifts and wait for some turtle that can be born later…

As nothing else happened after 3 days, the nest was opened during the night. What does it means? The specialists dig the nest to see if there are any live turtles that need help and to realize the success of the hatch. Fortunately only 4 eggs were found and they had not developed which makes a success rate of 95%! Excellent!

After 10 days camping on the beach and experiencing such a great adventure, come back home was strange… I came back a different person! I come back with a life lesson! I grew up and I am full of good feelings! I am happy! It is also impossible to write how much I am thankful to the Marine Protected Area Punta Campanella, Zoological Station Anton Dohrn and Sea Shepherd! You are unforgettable! Thank you for trying to make this world better!