Of all the excursions we’ve been on, I’d have to say today’s was the best. We thought we were going to get another boring lesson on marine animals, but it turned out to be much more than that! We met at the marina in Arrecife where we boarded a good-sized boat. The captain was a lady named Sara. She was a very serious woman, and also happened to be our tour guide. Sara explained that we would have a brief lecture and video on the Loggerhead turtles and then go out to find some. That’s exactly what happened.

First we watched the video. It talked about the Loggerhead being a turtle that can be found all around the world. They are mostly sea animals, but the females come ashore to lay eggs. These turtles feed on seaweed and bottom-dwelling animals. This was all basic information, but then the video started getting more interesting when it started to explain that the females are the more aggressive gender. They will circle each other, snap at each other, and then swim off in a different direction. Sounds like most of the “girl fights” I’ve ever seen.

After the video, Sara said there wasn’t any time for the lecture because we’d arrived at our destination. We were in the middle of nowhere! No land in sight, but we were at our destination. OK, Sara, whatever you say! Sara must have seen our confusion, so she said that the way we learn about marine life is to personally observe them, not to watch videos or have lectures. She said this was the place to see a large population of Loggerheads. Sara asked me to help her hand out snorkels and SCUBA gear, so we could go in the water. She asked who was SCUBA-certified, which I was, and who was not, which was everyone else. I looked at Sara, and she smiled at me and said I was in for a treat. That was the first smile she gave all day, so I didn’t know whether to be afraid or excited.

loggerhead-turtle-swiming

I got into the water after I put on my gear. I tested the oxygen pack and the dive mask, all of which worked properly. After Sara gave the rest of the crew snorkeling instructions, she waved me and my dive buddy, Manolo, to go down into the water. It was a whole new world down there! There were tons of colorful fish swimming around. The fish got bigger as we swam further and further towards the bottom of the ocean. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many schools of fish at one time. It was like Finding Nemo times twenty. Finally, we found the Loggerhead areas. Believe me, there was nothing slow about these turtles. They swam so fast! All I could see were grayish brown shells with yellow spotted heads and arms poking out. The shells were cool. I think I’ve seen the same pattern on my best friend’s tile floors. The patterns were that perfect!

I got some amazing underwater pictures. I saw one that was about three feet long. Later Sara told me that some of these turtles can get up to 250 pounds. That’s a lot more than I weigh! I got another picture of a baby turtle. It was all one color and about two inches long. I felt sorry for the rest of the group, but I was happy to have experienced the thrill of swimming with the turtles.

Activities:

  1. How do female turtles lay eggs?
  2. Would you like to go SCUBA diving? Why or why not?
  3. Go to Google Maps and find where the town of Arrecife is. What factors do you think may be affecting the ecosystem of this town and the reef nearby?