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Monkeys in Quepos: 130 Miles to Anywhere

To catch up on our 700-mile road trip across Costa Rica, click here, here, and here. Also, please note these are howler monkeys in Tamarindo. If you ever hear them roar, you’ll never forget it. It’s like King Kong times fifty.

130 Miles to Anywhere

I had been looking for monkeys from the moment I landed in Costa Rica. Actually, I’d been downright searching. But as mangrove day concluded with that cold shower I’d been daydreaming about all afternoon, I still hadn’t seen one.

After my shower, I joined Nora and Rita in our hostess’s open-air living room. Nora had a sparkle in her eye, and I immediately knew something was up. She was leaning over a map of Costa Rica. Rita was flipping through a guidebook with a scarlet macaw on the front.

“You know tomorrow is a day off for the volunteers,” Nora said. “So, we could hang out here all day or maybe head up the coast.”

We were meeting our husbands in Tamarindo in two days. It was 300 miles north, about eight hours of driving time. At that point, we wouldn’t make it there until well after midnight. Besides, our reservation didn’t start for 48 hours. “Head where?” I asked.

Nora shrugged. “Anywhere.”

Anywhere. Three gringas in a third-world Spanish-speaking country going anywhere? At first I thought about that saying, “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” Then, I pictured eating another plate of rice and beans and sleeping in a cabin decorated like a prison cell. A cabin with cockroaches.

Rita asked, “Should we vote?”

“We don’t have to vote,” I said.

Within thirty minutes, we packed up our rental car, told the Osa In-Water Project how much we enjoyed our sea turtle adventures, and split. We left Playa Blanca at dusk heading…well, heading anywhere. And maybe, just maybe when we got there I’d see a monkey.

***

We stopped 130 miles later in a small town called Quepos right outside the Manuel Antonio National Park. Nora had driven the whole four hours it took to get there, and it wasn’t an easy drive. The sky grew black. It rained, then rained harder. Street legal dirt bikes, carrying anywhere from one to five passengers and maybe the family dog, passed us on nonexistent shoulders. We got lost, took a thirty-mile detour.

I’d like to say we intentionally picked Quepos because we knew it was one of the top places in Costa Rica for seeing monkeys. But, we honestly had no idea. We picked the town because it was halfway to Tamarindo and had reasonably priced amenities.

Rita had found a two-bed, two-bath apartment on Airbnb for under a hundred bucks per night. In the states, our rental would have rated two stars, but after our cabins in Playa Blanca it was a solid three and a half. We walked to a small market, bought staples, and Rita made gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, complete with red onions and tomatoes.

That night we sat on the balcony and listened to the sounds of the jungle several hundred yards from our door. Moonlight glimmered off the tin roofs dotting Quepos’s rolling hills. A few streetlights revealed colorful laundry swaying from porches, compact cars and motorcycles parked bumper to bumper on narrow roads.

For the rest of that evening, we sipped on adult beverages and laughed about the acrobatics involved in washing thick hair in a cold shower. We laughed about planting mangrove seeds with our hands and hauling buckets of water to the nursery. We laughed until our sides hurt.

When I had started this trip, I was nervous about fitting in with a group of women. Four days later, I was sitting on a balcony overlooking a jungle, sharing secrets with Rita and Nora that I’ll never share with anyone else.

***

In Quepos, Nora, Rita and I acted like tourists for the first time since we arrived in Costa Rica. We slept late, indulged in hot showers, then found a cute restaurant run by ex-pats where we gorged on veggie omelets, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Not long after breakfast we discovered Nora’s suggestion to head “anywhere” landed us in Costa Rica’s version of Narnia.

We were driving down a steep, winding road when Nora said, “Monkey!”

We doubled back twice but couldn’t find them. So many times before I thought I saw one, but it always ended up being a black squirrel or a swaying palm frond. I wouldn’t believe it until I saw one with my own eyes.

And then I did. Actually, I saw two, two white-faced capuchin monkeys. Nora, Rita, and I squealed like teenage girls. The monkeys were digging the meat out of a coconut in a palm tree. They were so alert and engaged, engaged with their meal and each other. At one point, it looked like they were hugging. Ironically, my search for monkeys ended in a place we never planned on going to in the first place.

Several different species of monkeys live in Manuel Antonio National Park, and the capuchin weren’t the only kind we saw. Later that morning, we strolled down Espadilla Norte, a beach right outside the park’s entrance. The sand was white, ocean blue, breeze carrying the jungle’s flowery scents. Espadilla Norte was far busier than any beach on the Osa Peninsula, but it wasn’t crowded either.

As soon as we turned around and started back, we saw three squirrel monkeys. They were running back and forth from a palm tree to a group of tourists who were feeding them bananas. Before I could pull out my phone for pictures, a few ticos asked the tourists to stop. It’s illegal to feed monkeys in Costa Rica because human hands carry bacteria their immune systems can’t fight.

At one point, a street vendor called to us. We politely waved him off because we thought he wanted to sell us a kebob or trinket. Instead, he pointed at a beige sloth wrapped around a ceiba branch thirty feet above our heads. We only saw his furry body and never his charming face, but we were thrilled anyway.

All in all, it was a perfect day. For three girls going anywhere, we ended up in exactly the right place.

***

The following afternoon Nora, Rita, and I sat at a beachfront restaurant in Tamarindo. We had pulled into town an hour ago. Our husbands would arrive later that evening. Three mojitos in ice-filled glasses sat on our table. A few days ago we couldn’t get a single cube let alone three glasses of them.

We watched surfers jogging into the ocean, bikini-clad women parading along the beach, families walking their dogs. Latin hip-hop played in the background and the smell of burning tiki torches filled the air. If Quepos is Costa Rica’s Narnia, then Tamarindo is Vegas. We were quiet, overwhelmed by the busy energy. We had only been gone for six days, but it felt like a lifetime.

“I changed,” I said.

“Me too,” Rita answered.

“Like something shifted,” Nora agreed.

We’d been through so much together. Like when I got sick in a Ziploc bag outside San Jose because we didn’t know enough Spanish to ask our shuttle-bus driver to pull over. Or when sand fleas attacked Rita, so we soaked in the Gulfo Dulce until we pruned. How Nora drove 130 miles at night in the rain after doing manual labor for six hours. I thought about how we hiked for seven miles through a banana plantation, crossed a crocodile-infested estuary, and planted 27 mangroves on the Osa Peninsula. I thought about a green turtle in Playa Blanca and monkeys in Quepos.

We had ingested so many new experiences so quickly that we had to change. We had to adapt. And we did it together. Finally, social equilibriums acclimated, we raised our glasses and toasted to three gringas on a 700-mile road trip across Costa Rica.

Mangrove Day: The Nitty-Gritty of Sea Turtle Rescue

If you missed part one of our 700-mile road trip in Costa Rica, click here. Click here for part two. By the way, this smiling iguana picture has nothing to do with this post’s two subjects, mangroves and sea turtles. But, we did take it in Costa Rica. And I love it so much that I’ve been looking for an excuse to use it.

Mangrove Day, Playa Blanca, Costa Rica

After our first day of volunteering with the Osa In-Water project, I had high hopes about day two, which they called mangrove day. It started out pleasantly enough. Nora, Rita, and I ate rice and beans, toast with homemade marmalade in our hostess’s open-air living room. The living room held several family-size tables that stretched across concrete floors and a TV that took up half a wall. It played telenovelas in hi-definition from morning to night.

Mangrove day even started with a bonus. The day before we had spent six hours trying to catch sea turtles but didn’t catch any. After breakfast, the biologist called us to the beach. She had gone out early that morning and caught a green turtle. It was small and young compared to the ancient ones who can weigh up to 350 pounds.

Rita and I held the turtle’s hind flippers, while Nora logged measurements. We measured her shell and tail, took skin and blood samples, catalogued her tag number. Later, the biologist would enter it in a database they shared with organizations all over the world. With this shared data, they could track migratory patterns, growth rates, and general health information. Finally, after all the measurements were logged, we set her free.

Although that little lady hadn’t been outside the ocean for more than an hour, tears welled up in my eyes. I watched her slow and steady wake ripple along the surface long after her head disappeared. In the brief moments I had spent near her, I recognized her wisdom, the kind that makes her worth saving, the kind that makes people travel thousands of miles from home to see. I also realized that sea turtles are a lot like dogs. Both species have an inner peace that comes from knowing how to live in the moment. If they’ve already figured it out, why is it so hard for us?

***

Releasing that sea turtle into the Gulfo Dulce was the last magical thing that happened on mangrove day. From that moment on, Nora, Rita, and I never stopped sweating. Occasionally, clouds provided shade, but for the most part we worked in 90- degree heat, humidity as thick as Tennessee’s, and didn’t stop working until late afternoon.

It’s not like we are strangers to hard work either. All three of us grow gardens, mow yards, rake leaves, and whack weeds. I currently live in the country with an acre of grass that needs to be maintained nine months a year. Rita and Nora had grown up on a farm. We all had experience at working outside in hot conditions, but gardening with rudimentary equipment in a tropical climate was tougher than the hottest day of weeding the yard.

Our first chore involved planting mangroves. With one veteran research assistant and two newly arrived assistants, we hiked to the nursery across terrain that alternated between sandy coastline and swampland. The nursery was a crude but functional structure. Long pieces of driftwood held up several triangular scrims that covered rows of potted mangroves. We loaded shovels and twenty-seven of the healthiest plants into a wheelbarrow and hiked for several more miles to the project’s reforestation zone.

Until Nora, Rita, and I planted mangroves in Costa’s Rica’s rocky shore, I didn’t realize why they are so fundamental for a healthy coastline. For one thing, they prevent erosion and store enormous amounts of carbon. But, they also provide nesting grounds and homes for sea turtles along with hundreds of other species. Some experts predict whole species would diminish and maybe disappear without them.

We spent a good hour on our plot, three trees per hole, three holes per row. The ground wasn’t only rocky but filled with roots, so we had to stand on the shovels and use our weight to break ground. The shovels had seen better days and often bent under our weight. When we finished planting, we spent the rest of the morning searching for older plots, so that we could count leaves and measure its growth.

Our hike back to the nursery took an extra hour, but that was the second best hour of the day. Because of high tide, we had to take a longer route through a banana plantation. The banana trees towered over our heads. Their lush spiked leaves created a canopy of fragmented light. Actually, the whole hike was surreal, complete with exotic bird sounds and palm oil seeds that crunched under our feet. At one point, Nora, Rita, and I had to cross a small estuary where crocodiles swim, and the water almost reached our knees. While I waded through the murky waters, the thought of bumping into one of those prehistoric meat-eaters did cross my mind. But, I crammed it into a corner. We were in a remote jungle in a foreign country, so what choice did I have?

After lunch, rice and beans with fruit slices, we worked just as hard if not harder than that morning. We carried buckets of water back and forth from the ocean to the nursery and doused every potted tree. Nora, Rita, and I probably carried twenty buckets each that day. Once, we tried cooling off in the Golfo Dulce, but the water was as warm as the air. Sweat dripped between every crevice of our bodies.

Finally, as the sun signaled late afternoon, we started our last chore. Nora, Rita, and I sank onto the ground next to a triangular box that looked like a sandbox, except it was filled with mud. A pile of mangrove seeds sat behind it. By that time, we weren’t thinking about the fact that we were sitting in dirt because it felt so good just to sit. With our hands, we shoveled mud into plastic bags six inches deep and stuck a mangrove seed in each. The dirt underneath my nails was so thick that I couldn’t get them completely clean for days. We hadn’t had warm water in our cabin since we arrived in Playa Blanca two days earlier. After we checked that last chore off our list, I found myself dreaming about one of our cabin’s signature cold showers.

***

There is no denying that mangrove day was a hard, sweaty slog. Our first day of volunteering had been instantly gratifying. It took a lot longer to appreciate our second day. Mangrove day exposed the nitty-gritty of volunteering for a sea turtle conservation group in Costa Rica. It proved that rescuing sea turtles is romantic and rewarding, but it also involves hard manual labor.

Ironically, looking back, mangrove day means more to me than any other I spent in Costa Rica. I’m proud we planted twenty-seven mangroves and hiked seven miles through the jungle. All that hard work had given us a feeling of accomplishment, as though we earned something. And we earned it together. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Nora, Rita, and I became so close during our 700-mile road trip through Costa Rica. Whether we were crossing crocodile-infested estuaries or digging in the mud with our hands, we had each other’s back every step of the way.

Coming up next: One night in Quepos, Costa Rica and A Farewell to a Tree

 

Three Girls and a 700-Mile Road-Trip across Costa Rica

Before I left for Costa Rica, I had every intention of coming home and writing a story about my grueling but rewarding volunteer work for LAST, a sea turtle conservation group. But sometimes, the story we expect isn’t always the one we get. And this time, I was way off the mark. Let me be clear, both grueling and rewarding volunteer work was involved in my adventure, and I’ll touch on that. But, a tale focused only on sea turtles in Costa Rica isn’t the one that’s been brewing. Instead, I can’t stop thinking about three gringas who traveled to a third-world country and had the adventure of a lifetime. Let’s start with a teaser.

Three gringas and a 700-mile road-trip across Costa Rica

On a Saturday afternoon in mid-December, I met two sisters Honora Gabriel and Rita Southard at the Liberia airport. From there, we road-tripped for five days and 709 miles along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Here are just a few of our experiences: we hiked seven miles in the jungle along the Golfo Dulce, planted mangrove seeds with our hands, crossed an estuary where crocodiles swim, and measured a hawksbill’s shell. On the Osa Peninsula, we slept in concrete cabins with cockroaches, cold showers, and no air conditioning. In Quepos, we heard the howler monkeys’ husky roars before we saw some a day later in Tamarindo. We also saw macaws, toucans, parrots, a sleeping sloth, iguanas, and white-faced capuchin monkeys. We ate rice and beans five times in two days and an empanada at a roadside soda. On snaking, two-lane roads, sometimes in the rain, we passed men cutting brush with machetes, mule-drawn carriages, and people of all ages and genders riding street-legal dirt bikes with one or maybe five passengers.

There were times on that 700-mile trip when we squealed like ecstatic teenage girls. But, there were also times when we were forced to step outside our comfort zones, physically, mentally, and culturally. For me, the remarkable part is that we never melted down or gave up. Not for 700 miles. Not when I threw up in a Ziploc bag, or Nora killed cockroaches, or sand fleas assaulted Rita. Even when an intoxicated tico screamed karaoke at us in Puerto Jiménez, a town straight out of a Wild West movie, we didn’t give up. Looking back, we not only survived that road-trip, but we thrived. Because somewhere along those dusty, winding roads, three women became lifelong friends.

Coming in 2020

Coming soon, I’ll be writing more about our road-trip across Costa Rica. Plus, I’ll share a story about a vicious dog who attacked Floyd over Thanksgiving in Kentucky, and another about CBD oil and our sixteen-year-old cat’s remarkable comeback. This spring we’ll be visiting the Gentle Barn, a farm sanctuary in a neighboring county, and this summer we’re returning to the Puget Sound Goat Rescue to check in on Rosebud, our favorite three-legged goat.

Happy Holidays y’all!

A Prelude to Sea Turtle Adventures in Costa Rica

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the hardest part of loving my freaks is leaving them. And soon, I’ll be leaving them for ten days. There are two things that make being away worth it. One, I’ll be visiting a magical place, a.k.a. the Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica. I’ve heard rumors that creatures like sloths, macaws, and monkeys live in those emerald green forests, and I’m as excited as a twelve year old to see them. I wasn’t able to sleep last night just thinking about it.

Secondly, I’m going for a good cause. The Osa Penisula is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. A biodiversity hotspot is a place rich in nature but threatened by human development and pollution. Conservation International reports, “Today, species are going extinct at the fastest rate since the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.” And sea turtles are quickly become one of these casualties. So, for three days, marine-life advocate Honora Gabriel and I will be volunteering for the Osa Project, a conservation group running a rehabilitation center for sick or injured turtles.

I traveled to Cuba earlier this year to learn about the dog overpopulation problem, and ironically, I’m going to Costa Rica to find out about the withering number of sea turtles. The ocean’s problems have made front-page news on this blog before. Click here for a post about the starfish on the Oregon Coast and here for an interview with a badass lionfish hunter trying to save the Florida Keys.

For me, the ocean means life. If the ocean is dying, then it means that Conservation International is right, and everything else is dying too. Because I love nature so much, and because I’m able, I want to help. I want to witness and write about the Osa Project because if we don’t raise a clatter, then who will?  It’s not like the sea turtles are going to start yelling about the insane amount of plastic littering their home.

I’ll miss my freaks so much that I’ve already devised a way to keep them “with” me. I’m going to drape my beach towel on their dog bed the day before I leave. That way, I’ll smell them every time I dry off. I’m sure I’ll find a few dog hairs too. 🙂

I’m not taking my computer into the jungle, but I will be keeping a diary the old school way. So check back at the end of the month for an update about our sea turtle adventures in Costa Rica.

And as always, thanks so much for reading.

Coming Soon: Sea Turtle Adventures

It stayed brutally hot, like 90-degree and 70-percent humidity hot, until mid-October. Three weeks later we woke to snow on the ground and a thermometer reading 13. I write about animals on this blog because everybody needs a focus. But based on current weather patterns, I’d say we should all be concerned, or at least aware of the environment.

Speaking of the environment and animals, I’m excited to announce that I will be traveling to Puntarenas, Costa Rica with sea turtle advocate Honora Gabriel. In December, we’ll spend a few days on the Osa Peninsula volunteering for a sea turtle conservation group.

After interviewing Nora last year, I became so concerned about the sea turtle’s predicament that I decided I wanted to see what’s going on, and Honora agreed to show me. As a refresher, turtles need our help because six out of the seven species are endangered, and we are the primary reason for their withering numbers. Think trash, fishing nets, and pollution. Multiple sources claim only one in 1000 sea turtles live to maturity.

If the Internet allows it, I’ll be doing daily updates on Instagram from the OSA Peninsula starting Dec 7th. If you don’t follow us on Instagram , then why not start now? Just click here.

Why Sea Turtles Need People Like Honora Gabriel

Mason and I swam with sea turtles three years ago. It was (by far) the closest I’d ever been to the reptiles, so I was unprepared for both their grace and their friendliness. The turtles glided through the clear blue Caribbean with an elegance that hinted at their longevity. Their family tree branches back to prehistoric times. It was an amazing experience, the rare kind where I entered a foreign land yet felt completely welcome.

This memory resurfaced a few months ago when Honora Gabriel told me she was spending two weeks saving sea turtles in Costa Rica. The turtles need help because six out of seven species are endangered, and we are the primary reason for their withering numbers. Think trash, fishing nets, and pollution. Multiple sources claim only one in 1000 sea turtles live to maturity.

Like every member in a well-run household, sea turtles have chores. In essence, they are the gardeners of the oceans because they mow the sea grass. Untended sea grass is like a weed. It kills everything. Turtles also keep the jellyfish population under control because they eat them. Plus, their hatched eggs leave nutrients in the sand that help combat erosion. Because of the turtle’s shrinking numbers, these chores aren’t getting done, and that affects the whole marine ecosystem. The Sea Turtle Conservancy put it like this, “All parts of an ecosystem are important, if you lose one, the rest will eventually follow.”

Honora is in her late thirties, petite with a mane of black curls. She’s a pharmaceutical consultant who designs programs that help patients get access to life-saving medications. She also blasts through every glass ceiling she encounters. The Charlotte Business Journal named her one of the “Top 25 Women in Business” in 2015. The following year the Mecklenburg Times gave her a “Woman of the Year” award. And in 2019, she’ll take over as Board President of Susan G. Komen Charlotte Chapter.

I’ve known Honora for over a decade, and I’d be proud to call her a friend even if she didn’t care about animals, but she does. And she does something about it. In December, Honora volunteered with Costa Rica Volunteer Now on the Playa Camaronal Wildlife Refuge. She slept under a mosquito net, chopped trails through the jungle, and lived on rice and beans for two weeks. And she did it so that we all get an opportunity to swim with sea turtles.

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you know the Farnival likes to pay tribute to everyday badasses who help animals. People that prove anyone can make a difference. Recent additions to our list include Gus Sims and Barbara Jamison. Now it also includes Honora Gabriel. Two weeks ago, I caught up with Honora and asked her about her trip to Costa Rica.

So….why sea turtles? 

I’ve always felt a connection to the ocean. When I was a little kid I wanted to be a marine biologist. Then when I went to Ithaca College, I met [my husband] Jason and we would meet everyday at this sea turtle fountain. It’s the place where our relationship grew. It’s also the first place he told me he loved me, and Jason ended up getting that same turtle tattooed on his arm.

I can’t say why, but I feel like turtles are my spirit animals. So when I decided to leave corporate America, and I did leave corporate America, I wanted to mark it with something important to me. And I decided to save turtles.

Coolest thing you learned about sea turtles?

They return to the place they were born to lay their eggs. The turtles can be thousands of miles away, but they still come back to the place where they hatched. This boggles my mind. For instance, say they are in Australia and they are coming to Costa Rica, how do they know when they have to leave? It really boggles my mind that they know when to leave, and that they make it back to where they were hatched. And turtles hatch from all over the globe. They are everywhere except the Polar Regions.

Can you describe where you stayed?

I’m going to liken it to a dorm at a scout camp because most people can relate to that. It’s a long building with concrete floors and walls. The ceiling is tin. You can hear the iguanas crawling on top of it at night. You can hear their tails. The windows are four-feet wide and kept open all the time because it’s hot, so we were totally exposed. We slept in bunk beds with mosquito nets. You are basically living out of your book bag.

I shared a bathroom with 15 other girls. There was another bathroom for the ten guys at our dorm. And because of the plumbing you couldn’t flush toilet paper. We had three toilets. Right across from the toilets are three showers. One didn’t work, water dribbled out of the other two, and it’s all cold water. Now, keep in mind, between the 25 people in our dormitory, we could only run water one at time. So sink, shower, toilet, one a time between 25 people. So, you had to warn people, “Hey, I’m showering,” or “I’m going to flush” or “I’m going to brush my teeth.” These are the conversations that occur.

What was a normal day of volunteering like? 

We had dayshifts from 9 -11 am and then between 3-5 pm. The night shifts were three hours sometime between 7:30 PM -1:30 am.

At night we patrolled the shoreline to find turtles heading to the beach or already laying their eggs. Raccoons are a natural predator, so we’d fend off the raccoons so the turtle could lay her eggs. Then, as she’s laying her eggs, we dug, stroke for stroke, behind her to make a parallel tunnel so that we could collect the eggs. Once we collected the eggs we took them back to the hatchery, dug a hole, and buried them. We also did hatchery patrol. If I was on this shift, I was chilling at the beach fort and every 30 minutes I checked the hatcheries. When the baby turtles hatched, we took them to the ocean.

The day shifts were manual, sweaty labor. We built trails at a nature preserve where people can pay to hike and see the hatcheries. If people come at night, they can see the hatchlings go into the water. It’s kind of like a National Park in the United States. The lead biologist was very focused on improving the trail system, and he wanted to make new trails. Well, talk about sweating your butt off. So, the people in the front go through with machetes, then we went through with shovels to dig the plants out or with rakes to rake the leaves, and there are a lot of leaves in the jungle. Ultimately, better trails mean more people will come to the sanctuary and that means more money for the turtles.

Another task was picking up trash and sticks off the beach. There was an amazing amount of driftwood on the beach, and that’s important to move because the baby turtles can’t crawl over it. We called that natural trash.

What made you angriest about the human trash?

The trash is so disappointing because it can get lodged anywhere in the sea turtle. It gets lodged in the their nose, in their throat. And there is so much of it.

There are so many straws on the beach. One day I was like I’m going to count how many straws I pick up in two hours because that will be impactful. I lost count after thirty minutes.

Number two is plastic bottle caps. I didn’t think about this before, but now I notice how many things have plastic caps. Think about it for a minute next time you’re in the grocery store. Everything we buy has a cap.

And number three is shoes.

Shoes?

 I’m not making this up.

Do you feel like you made a difference?

In my heart, I want to feel like I made a difference. But when I think about those two weeks in the grand scheme of things, I’ll say no. For example, one of my tour guides told me that he traveled from the Philippines to Costa Rica. He said what registered on his navigation system was an island and that was an island of plastic that resides in the Pacific. It’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That kills me.

What I can do is focus on spreading a message, a message that makes people change their ways because it’s the small things that help. You go to the grocery store and get plastic bags. Where do those bag go? It’s floating around in the ocean and it looks like a jellyfish. The turtle eats it. It ends up in his stomach, and then the turtle is dead. Everything in our life is plastic. I find myself refusing bags at the store or bringing my own bags. I refuse straws, which sounds like such a small thing but it’s important and anybody can do it. Just refuse a straw.

I bought every member of my family a book about turtles, so that they understand that everybody can help. For instance, something else people can easily do is shut off their lights. If you live on the coast, shut off the lights because all of those hatching turtles are going to gravitate towards the light instead of the ocean. And then they’ll die. So, my point is I hope I can make a difference by educating people about the simple ways everybody can help.