Mediterranean Sea Turtle & Dolphin Studies
A Once in a Lifetime Experience, by Erica T
I have always taken the initiative to further my knowledge of marine biology because it is not only the field I want to pursue but also a passion of mine. The summer after my junior year was an experience I will never forget because I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do a summer enrichment program through an organization called Broadreach. I had the opportunity to combine many of my favorite hobbies into one trip: marine biology, SCUBA diving, traveling, and cultural exchange. Not only was that summer an academic achievement, it was also an experience that has changed the way I look at the world and at myself as a person.
I was drawn to the Broadreach program Sea Turtle Studies because it offered me the opportunity to be an intern at the most popular nesting beach for green turtles in the world and to work at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. During the day I would take classes in sea turtle biology from world-renowned sea turtle biologist Sebastian Troeng. In the afternoon I would soak up Costa Rican culture and SCUBA dive, and by night I would go out on the beach to work with sea turtles. I knew it would be the perfect summer internship.
On July 12th, 2005 I left my house for a month for what I hoped would be the best summer of my life. As I walked to my airport gate all alone, I could feel my heart racing in anticipation; full of paradoxical feelings of worry and excitement at the same time because I was thrusting myself into a new country with new people I had never met before. After a five hour flight, a four hour bus ride, and a two hour boat ride, I arrived in the village of Tortuguero. I was struck most by the lushness of the rainforest and the abundance of toucans and monkeys as my group of twelve students and two advisors drifted down the river to our dorms at the CCC. In the weeks that followed we learned sea turtle biology inside and out, took a midterm and final exam, wrote three data synthesis papers from hypotheses we came up with, and recorded our findings.
To study the nocturnal turtles we had to become nocturnal. Our shifts were from eight P.M. to midnight, midnight to four A.M., and six A.M. to ten A.M. Collapsing in my bunk at four thirty after a shift was well worth it to have shared the beach with only nesting turtles for twelve miles. Typically my job would be to tag the turtles to identify them, measure their shell, (carapace,) length, and check them for any diseases. One of my most memorable shifts was a night where the moon was so bright I could see my shadow on the sand. I was working with a turtle when she began to lay her eggs. My job was to lay flat in the sand and hold my hand beneath her egg chamber to count the number of eggs laid. The moment was peaceful and mystical, and at that moment I felt that I was connected to the turtle and to the sea.
Besides the academic success of my internship, I learned so much about myself as a person and how I see the world. Whenever my group had free time we would go into the town of Tortuguero. One afternoon we spent a day with the local high school to do a beach clean-up community service project. No one was really sure what to expect, especially me who didn’t speak any Spanish. The first few minutes were sufficiently awkward; each group of teens was equally uncertain and shy. Gradually the ice was broken and together we picked up trash and communicated with each other without saying any words. After we had finished cleaning, a pick-up game of soccer started and everyone joined in regardless of ability. I wondered how we could be so different, yet so alike. That night some locals taught my group how to salsa dance. I followed by example as I watched their bodies sway to the beat. I was genuinely moved by the fact that even though few words were spoken, I could relate to Costa Rican teens with something as simple as salsa music, a smile, a gesture, eye contact, or a high-five.
That summer my whole outlook on life changed. I confirmed that I want to become a marine biologist because I enjoyed the hands-on sea turtle work so much. I learned to see the world with both eyes and to appreciate the beauty of nature and the connections that humans can have with nature. I discovered that communication isn’t limited to spoken words. I created friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. Lastly and most importantly I started to become aware of my place on the earth, the way I want to live my life, and the kind of adult I want to become.
- Erica Towle
Signing off, Erica T
Opportunity is an appropriate or favourable time or occasion that comes in the life of almost everyone only if one takes it positively. A child gets an opportunity of the love of its parents(though it is too innocent to utilize the opportunity).
A student gets an opportunity to study and make his career. He/she is lucky enough to appear at the various entrance examinations. It is up to you how to make the best use of the opportunity. The officers as well as other employees who are in services have had opportunities to show and use their abilities, qualities and efficiencies. If we go into the depth of this ‘favourable time’, we find that God gives us an opportunity in our life almost every day, it is up to us to grasp and utilize this opportunity. The holy Quran says: ‘ Allah gives man every opportunity of knowing and understanding things, but He does not force him, for that would be against the whole plan on which our present life is constituted.’ Opportunity is nothing else but the ‘Time’ that plays various roles in the life of various people. It is the most powerful deciding factor that makes millions of people think and work differently at the same time. We all have got an opportunity to lead our life and the same twenty four hours has been allotted to all of us. But some flourish and prosper while some suffer and remain in poverty.
Though nothing certain about such a big gap can be said, yet much more depends on how we answer the opportunity that has knocked at our door.
A proverb runs, ‘ Opportunity knocks at every door but only once.’ The proverb clearly clarifies that God has given us an opportunity of living in this world but only once. How best we can use this opportunity depends on us. Lily Tomlin says: ‘The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way.’ Your mind is the soul author of your destiny and success. R.W.Emerson says: ‘Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.’ What I mean to say is that the opportunity of living is there in the life of everyone but the opportunity that knocks at every door but only once is the opportunity that can bring a big and amazing change in a person’s life if is prudently and courageously utilized. But one has to become very cautious and aware of hearing the knock of the opportunity. Sometimes it so happens that we go deaf to the knock. Opportunity comes to us and goes away but we are so lazy and unaware that we don’t care to welcome the opportunity. Some opportunities seem to be too small for us to heed. But the fact is: ‘Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.’(Demosthenes)
In the life of a person so many opportunities come but he ignores or give little importance to them, sometimes unknowingly and sometimes knowingly. The result is that he suffers or repents all his life. There runs a story that teaches us that we should always be aware of the chance that comes in our way. The story is: A few passengers were sailing in a boat. In the meantime the boat they were in was caught in a storm and was going to sink. They were all yelling for help. Another boat came and took some of the passengers. Some passengers swam across the river safely. Some passengers were saved by some divers. All the passengers but one were saved as they all got the opportunity in some way or the other and they greeted it. But one of the passengers could not be saved only because he did not greet the opportunity that came to him. In the ‘Yamlok’ he asked the King of Death (Yamraj) why he was not saved from being drowned to death. The King answered: ‘ I gave you the opportunities three times but you ignored every time thinking foolishly that God would save you.’ God has given us life endowed with prudence, wisdom, intelligence, courage so that we may understand how to live our life. Alfred Einstein says: ‘God made us not because He knew what we would do but to find out what we would do.’ God undoubtedly stands by us all the time but He has given us the most unique thing, i.e. mind/heart. ‘ I asked God to give me happiness. God said, ‘ No! I give you blessings, happiness is up to you.’ I asked for all things so that I might enjoy life. God said, ‘No!’ I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.’ (source: Internet)
If you want to lead your life successfully and happily, be alert and prepared to hear the call of the opportunity that may come at any moment. We all know ‘time and tide wait for none.’ Even if you do not have any opportunity in your life, never lose the hope you have cherished. It is up to you to realize your hope. What you must have is the ‘will power’ that can overcome any hurdle. Milton Berley says: ‘ If opportunity does not knock, build a door.’ And it is only possible if you have ‘will power’ and do not blame anyone or anything for not having any opportunity in your life. Make the door and opportunity itself would like to knock at that door. All problems contain the seeds of opportunity and this awareness allows you to take the moment and transform it to a better situation or thing.