Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Giant Sea Turtles

July 11, 2013

On the beach in Trinidad!
We had a mission teleconference in Trinidad while we were there.  All the senior missionaries were on their skypes in all 13 locations, except for those who were in the mission home in Trinidad, and President Mehr spoke to us all at once.  It was a very interesting conference.  D & C 88:73. "Behold I will hasten my work in its time."  
They are talking about splitting the mission.  If we could have more missionaries in Guyana they would probably do it.  In the mission we will have 50 more missionaries in the next three months.
President Mehr is having the senior missionaries work with the priesthood leaders to do humanitarian projects that build strategic relationships.  We are also planning a big celebration in 2015 to celebrate 25 years of the church in the West Indies. 
After this conference the Monsons took us to Grand Riviere                    to see the giant leatherback turtles come in to lay their eggs.  We drove along miles of beautiful beaches where the road was missing in places, which made it more exciting.  We drove for about three hours to a beach where we had a nice fish dinner and stayed in a little motel.  After dinner we walked a couple blocks down to the beach to wait for the guides to come and get us to go see the turtles.  This is the end of the season and only 30 turtles came in that night.  In the peak season 400 or 500 turtles may come in one night.  We had to wait until 9:00 or 9:30 for the first turtle to come.  You can't shine your flashlight because the light confuses the turtles, unless your light is red.  The turtles are huge.  One they measured was 11 feet from the end of its tail to the top of it's shell.  The turtles crawl up on the beach and find a spot where the sand is firm.  Then their back legs dig a very precise hole the shape of a giant upside down lightbulb.  Then the eggs start dropping into the hole.  The eggs are round and white and about the size of a small orange.  Some of the eggs are small and have no yolk and when they break it makes air holes so the hatchlings can breath when they hatch.  The mother turtle will lay between 80 and 120 eggs.  Then they come back in about 10 days and lay that many again and they do that 7 to 10 times each year.  They swim to the beach from way up north near England or Scandinavia.  We couldn't take pictures at night.  We got to see eight turtles crawl up on the beach to lay eggs that night and then we went back to the hotel.  We were up before 5:00 the next morning and down to the beach while it was still dark.  We hoped to catch a turtle still there.  There were no turtles on the beach, but as it got light dozens of vultures and a few dogs came to the beach to find eggs or hatchlings to eat.  Only a handful of hatchlings out of 1,000 survive.  We could see where the turtles had used their giant fins to camouflage where they had laid their eggs.  We hung around the beach for a couple hours and we saw a large leatherback that accidently swam into a river instead of into the ocean.   These turtles are really amazing.  We drove past miles of beautiful beaches on the way back.

The men carry around their bird cages.  They see whose bird can sing the best and gamble.  A bird can cost $3000 US.

Broken turtle egg shells on the beach.

Colorful houses

The beach at dusk.

The vultures show up to eat the hatchlings.

The turtles camouflage where they lay their eggs.

Elder Beecher with Elder Monson.

Sister Monson with a hatchling.

A hatchling trying to make it into the ocean.

A beautiful beach along the road.

We couldn't take pictures of the turtles at night, but this one accidently swam into a river instead of to the sea.


  1. This looks wonderful, hope that all is well!!! Love you!

  2. I thought you missionary couples were supposed to be WORKING ... not cavorting around the islands in your shorts! We miss Guyana and can't wait to hear about all the good things you are doing for "my kids!"