Suriname – Photo Tip

Tourists can also bring a different dimension to a scene

Seemingly unconcerned by the eager onlookers, a mighty leatherback tosses mounds of sand back and forth as she carefully hides her nest of eggs. Sea turtles visit the Surinam coast between February and August, an event which can be witnessed on the beaches of Galibi or Matapica National Park.

Photo by Frans Lemmens

Suriname – Photo Tip

Tourists can also bring a different dimension to a scene

Between February and August, four species of sea turtle – the leatherback, green, Atlantic hawksbill and Olive Ridley – come to the deserted beaches of Matapica National Park in Suriname to lay their eggs.

Frans Lemmens
Frans Lemmens Travel Photographer

The park is only a half-day’s journey from Paramaribo, but it felt like a trek to the end of the earth. I had my own tent and food; the park’s makeshift lodging was washed away in a storm.

However, we were rewarded with a generous helping of beginner's luck when we arrived – a ranger took us to a lonely stretch of sand and within an hour a shiny leatherback emerged from the water and slowly crept up the beach.

Flicking sand in a meditative motion, she dug her nest and started to lay her eggs. We moved towards her for a closer look but they don’t seem to care, and after a while they get used to the presence of humans. We sat there motionless for a couple of hours as she fastidiously buried her future progeny. This allowed for plenty of time to photograph and enjoy this ancient and intimate wonder.

Rather than snapping solo shots of the nesting turtle, I included the other travelers in my pictures, because they were not merely passing by. They had all made the long journey to Matapica just to witness this event. It is this ‘unnatural’ relationship between humans and nature that I find truly fascinating.

Matapica National Park is on the Atlantic coast of Suriname, east of the Suriname river estuary....

Matapica National Park is on the Atlantic coast of Suriname, east of the Suriname river estuary. Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) lay eggs their eggs here during the day, with park rangers making sure any visitors obey the rules. Photo by Frans Lemmens

Frans Lemmens

Frans Lemmens

Matapica National Park is on the Atlantic coast of Suriname, east of the Suriname river estuary. Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) lay eggs their eggs here during the day, with park rangers making sure any visitors obey the rules.