Our expedition will be based in the village of Matura, a small, friendly, rural community in northeastern Trinidad where our research partner, Nature Seekers, has its headquarters. Nearby is the Matura Beach Protected Area, where large numbers of leatherback turtles nest annually. Trinidad is the southernmost island in the chain of Caribbean islands stretching from Florida to South America. It is located less than ten miles off the northeast coast of Venezuela, and this proximity means that Trinidad is populated by flora and fauna more similar to South America than most other Caribbean islands. The island enjoys a tropical climate year-round.
Trinidad’s beaches host one of the largest nesting colonies of leatherback sea turtles in the world. Approximately 60% of leatherback turtles that forage in Canadian waters during the summer months originate from the Trinidad nesting population. The major nesting beaches on Trinidad are protected and patrolled by community conservation groups. However, the turtles still face threats locally (e.g., predation of eggs and hatchlings) and regionally (e.g., entanglement of adult turtles in fishing gear). During nightly volunteer sessions, participants will assist with counting, measuring, and tagging these endangered leatherback turtles as they arrive on the nesting beach to lay their eggs. We will provide you with training on sea turtle identification, data collection, and use of research equipment. While there is a small chance of seeing hatchling baby turtles during this trip, the focus of our work will be adult nesting females.
Matura has a rich cultural diversity and the village is surrounded by thick tropical forest with a wealth of wild fauna. In addition to your evening research tasks, you’ll have an unparalleled chance to learn about Trinidad’s natural environment through interaction with local guides and during daytime excursions to local ecotourism establishments.
To learn more about what it’s like to work with leatherbacks on Matura Beach, please check out our blog.