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Leatherback Legacy and Capuchin Capers
Costa Rican Capers and Capuchins

Who's up there?Who's up there? (Cindy Messinger)
To witness a living dinosaur is truly an amazing thing - The Leatherback's ancestry dates back to the Dinosaur era, believe it or not! It is so hard to believe we witnessed 2 of them (during the previous night) laying their eggs to help continue their survival. The beautiful animal cloaked in black could throw sand from her flippers like a quarterback can throw a football. She is incredibly strong and her appearance shows it. That must be the only way she has survived through the years. Her hardships wear on her face yet her body still works like the best engineered machine ever. She needs no oil from a Gulf disaster to lubricate her machine, only nature in its most untouched form to allow her to live on. And she too, tries her best to elude the crazy people like us. Night time is her camouflage and she seems to know it. It was near impossible with my SLR camera to focus on her without light. I thus have many blurry leatherback pictures. Perhaps she likes it way. Lets hope her success continues as she has many obstacles awaiting her in today's world.

We also watched the team excavate a 'hatched' nest. Possibly it was one of hers from a previous night of laying. They counted eggs that had hatched, those that had not, and those that weren't fertile. We were able to see partially developed turtles. This nest was an 'average' nest for this area as about 50% had hatched. It was all very fascinating. I have to give the team credit for all their dedicated work toward preserving these animals!

And we worked to help them. The team tagged the mother turtles, moved their eggs (to hide from poachers) to a new location and covered their tracks! It was a long 6 hour night and my friend Sharon returned with a huge blister on each foot that was about the size of a turtle itself!! It was all worth it! We applied gauze and duct tape, ate breakfast and set about in search of more monkeys in the day time.

We knew the monkeys weren't far from camp, but had no luck finding them the previous day. We were told to walk slow and listen...they shouldn't be far from the main path. We could hear a branch break. We saw some leaves fall. And we finally saw the White Face Capuchin. And then another and then another and then a whole family. Once again I scrambled to get my tripod set just so and then I couldn't find them in the view finder. After much grumbling of words that I can't say in front of my kids, I 'ditched' the tripod and held the thing by hand. Sharon, on the other hand, was calm as could be videotaping the monkeys all the while and also recording my quite descriptive choice of words. Oops....guess I should keep my comments to myself next time! And I really have to wonder what those Capuchins were thinking of me - this crazy lady clumsily trying to take photos of these unwilling inhabitants! The "Rainforest Paparazzi" strikes again.

Here is the best part of my discovery. We can read books as much as we want, and watch TV, and learn all sorts of things about ANYTHING on the internet. But, to truly experience and witness things in the wild is the best learning experience ever. These monkeys really do share facial expressions like humans and really do have a way of communicating with each other. My zoom camera lens proved it as I saw the parent monkey 'smile' at its child. And I witnessed other expressions showing that the monkeys were learning and talking with each other. AMAZING! Perhaps I should work with Lizzy, the Monkey lady who was at the reserve studying these human like creatures. She had a generator so she could dehydrate foods that the Capuchins eat. She will then take the food back with her to NM where she will analyze their nutrition intake.

I feel like I have a new calling now, but as What? A rainforest paparazzi or a dinosaur docent?

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