Students help save sea turtles in Costa Rica

Written by Eleanor on 11th December 2018

Around 20 Chichester College students embarked on the experience of a lifetime recently.

The animal care students, who are studying at Brinsbury (part of the Chichester College Group), travelled to Costa Rica in November where, along with three members of staff, they spent ten days helping to protect sea turtles.

They spent their days - or rather nights - working with AVSO as part of the organisation's conservation project in Montezuma.

The students made nightly patrols with AVSO staff, collecting newly laid eggs and carefully moving them to specially constructed nurseries which could protect the turtle nests from predators and destruction - as well as helping to liberate newly hatched turtles to help them reach the sea.

Mickey Day, Senior Student Experience Champion at Chichester College, travelled with the students.

He said: "This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to get involved with a really amazing project and experience something not many people have the chance to do.

"They were absolutely brilliant, they worked really hard in small teams - some nights they would be handling up to 120 eggs. You have to be so careful - the eggs have to stay the same way up from the moment you move them and they need to be covered up in the same way too. It is painstaking work, but the students were diligent and professional.

"We released over 1,000 baby turtles. I can't quite describe what it was like to see them scurrying down the beach towards the sea - it was really quite special.

"It wasn't without it's challenges though. Baby turtles naturally head towards the light of the moon, that's how they find their way from the shore and into the sea - but behind the beach, there are street lights and on one particularly stormy night the turtles went off in the wrong direction so it was up to us to help turn them around.

"It was quite scary with the rain driving down with thunder and lightning flashing around us but the students were amazing. We were all impressed with how they handled that situation, keeping clear heads and calmly, carefully and quickly working to get the turtles on their way.

"It was an amazing experience, and just one of many opportunities we are able to offer our students. These trips are planned almost a year in advance, giving students time to save up but it is an incredible worthwhile experience for them."