Imagine a hike in the darkness of the night on a Turtle Watch trail with 11 young energetic students here on Union Island to do research and conservation of Spiders, Lizards and Snakes. What do you find? Lots more than just a Leatherback Turtle.

The trip started around 8pm with our local turtle expert Mr Roseman Adams doing the regular pickup with what we call the Turtle Bus, from Ashton to Clifton collecting persons that are ready to connect with nature. We arrived at the Anchorage Hotel where we collected the Students of the Avila University (Kansas) USA, all decked out in sneakers and head lamps and ready for the Adventure Trail to the Bloody Bay beach. Also on board was our Birding Expert Robert Rankin, I asked him if he wasn’t tired after an early morning Birdwatching exercise with the Environmental Attackers. After making our way around all the bends overlooking the cliffs we finally got to our assembly point where the trail starts.

After the routine safety talk we started our safety counts, one, two, three …….. fifteen, hows that for a refresher in math. So there were fifteen of us starting the hike and we expect to have fifteen at the beach after a second count, so with the safety briefing done and a brief introduction of each team member we were ready to take the trail. From a bird’s eye view we would look like a string of Christmas lights strung together in a line making our way beneath the forest. Halfway through the trail the congo line started to pile up, the line of lights transformed into an examination circle, in the center was a harmless tree boa snake in the hand of one of the students. It was reminiscent of a scene from the  National Geographic, one of the students had spotted it wrapped on a tree branch, after all, the students were here to do research on creatures like these so they had their eyes peeled along the trail for anything in their line of study.

After about 15 minutes of walking we got to the bottom of the trail, on white sand at the Bloody Bay beach, it took a while for our eyes to get adjusted to the darkness, we scanned both sides of the beach for any turtles that may have been laying, then we took up the usual look out position. Mr Adams gave us a great lecture on sea turtles, he also shared some facts and history about Union Island, he was the turtle expert, tour guide and historian all in one. The interesting thing was that there was never a dull moment he made the darkness of the night seemed like a day trip. Then came the jokes, we all had a go at  telling jokes which is something we started at turtle watch and is a way of getting the group more social.

We headed out back through the trail at around midnight, the students found a scorpion and another tree Boa, we ended the night with the regular group photo, capturing the fun, adventure, and excitement in faces that would always remember Turtle Watching on Union Island.

Story by Stanton Gomes

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