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.
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.
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