Click for full screen image.
Taken at 1 second at f/4.5, ISO 1600 with a TS-E24mm f/3.5L II @ 24 mm

At 4:30AM, my alarm went off last Thursday. Coming awake, I looked around at the mosquito netting all around me, in our room steps from the beach in Grande Riviere. The initial thoughts of going back to sleep quickly slipped away as I heard the waves crashing against the shore, and memories of the magnificent turtles we saw the night before came rushing back in to my mind.

Due to poaching of both the turtles and their eggs, you are only allowed on many of the beaches at night with a guide and a permit. At 5AM, however, you can venture back out without a guide (though you still need your permit) and take photos and even use flashes or other white lights. In the dark of night, these white lights can confuse the turtles about how to get back to the ocean, as they use the light of the horizon as their signal to bring them back to the sea.

Crista and I got ready, and at 5:01 AST stepped foot onto the sands of the beach. A ranger who was doing a final sweep pointed down the sands at once of the last turtles there, and we hustled down to see her before she swam away. As she finished laying her eggs, she was still in her egg laying trance and completely ignored me as I set up a few feet away and used my headlamp to paint her with light in the near darkness.

It turned out there were two more turtles on the beach, and more photos to come. But those that decided to get up at 6AM instead of five missed them all! The short nights sleep and long walk in the sand were well worth it to see these incredible creatures in the full light of day as they swam back into the Caribbean.

Click for full screen image.
Taken at 1/8 second at f/2.8, ISO 3200 with a 15.1-60.4 mm @ 15.1 mm
Photo by Crista Grasso

If you are ever there, I can very highly recommend the Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel run by Piero Guerrini. A wonderful location, fantastic food and great rooms. There was like waking up to the sounds of surf.