Zapatilla Beach And Helping Baby Turtles

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A Day Tour To Zapatilla Beach, Bocas Del Toro, Panama

I had the MOST amazing day yesterday.

I’ve been in Bocas Del Toro for around two weeks and its rained pretty much the entire time. Its lovely and warm and I’ve been immersed in my spanish classes so its not really mattered, but I was well and truly ready for some sun.

I organised to head out with a couple of other ladies from class to do a boat tour for the day. We did a few stops along the way and then spent two hours at Zapatilla (zap-a- tee-ya) beach which is this spectacular white sand Caribbean island. The sun was out, it was a spectacular day and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that we all were wallowing in the fantastic weather.

Neither the weather or the beach turned out not to be the highlight of the day however….

Boat on Zapatilla Beach Bocas Del Toro
Boat on Zapatilla Beach Bocas Del Toro

Helping A hatching clutch of turtles out to sea

So we’ve been on the island for about an hour and the National Park boat shows up, we think checking the tour operators permits etc, however we couldn’t have been more wrong. They were waiting for a turtle nest on the island to hatch. The turtles nest was right on the beach where we were – not more than 10 metres away. Turtles usually hatch at night or in the early morning so it was an unusual situation for sure.

Asap the rangers headed to the nesting location, there was much too-doo and bustling around as the nest was breaking open right there and then.

OMG – I’ve spent time at a Turtle Hatchery in Borneo , however to just come across a hatching turtle nest in the wild was pretty amazing.

What was more amazing however was the beach goers response.

There was maybe 30-40 people on the beach. Adults, kids and a real mix of nationalities and races. As soon as it became apparent what we were seeing everyone, and I mean EVERYONE , created this path to the water for these baby turtles. People lined the path, flipped the baby turtles back over if they ended up on their backs, made sure they made the water and even kept up the corridor out into the water so the turtles made the kelp beds which was about 25 metres off the beach.

If you don’t know, between 1 and 3% of a turtle hatch survives to adulthood. Around 50% of them don’t make the water. Birds of course are their biggest predator but yesterday there were people from all walks of life from all over the globe ensuring that 100% of the hatchlings made the water.

People were even going back to their boat, grabbing their life jacket and using it to support themselves so they could get out into the deep to keep the corridor to the kelp beds going. And the best thing – its just happened. Everyone just came together and made sure these baby turtles got out to the kelp where their coloring means they are camouflaged and the birds have almost zero chance of seeing them in the water. Of course they still have the ocean predators to contend with but effectively we all gave these babies a MUCH higher chance of survival by just making sure they made the ocean and the kelp.

A turtle hatchling making its way across the sand
A turtle hatchling making its way across the sand

It was stunning how the fact that there was maybe 15 nationalities, 6 or 8 races, at least 10 different languages and NONE OF IT MATTERED. I sit here typing wondering that if during a time like that, when you are saving lives (which is exactly what we were doing) that if race, color or creed doesn’t matter, how can it matter in everyday life.

It really shows that we learn hate.

We learn how to live our lives in our own bubble, but when push comes to shove – if you don’t have time to think about it – IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Makes you think…..

Watch one of the baby turtles swimming out to sea.

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Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She’s always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.