In 2016 several First Nations bands in British Columbia united to protest the presence of industrial fish farms that were operating in their traditional territory without permission. These farms have been proven to spread diseases and harm the wild salmon populations. Accompanied by marine biologist Alexandra Morton and the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship 'Martin Sheen', elders from the bands boarded the farms to serve eviction notices and perform cleansing ceremonies.
In September of 2015 while attending a photodocumentary workshop in Costa Rica I was volunteering at the ASVO (Asociación de Voluntarios para el Servicio en Areas Protegidas) Turtle Conservation station in Montezuma. In one 24 hour period I saw three adult green turtles make their way up the beach, dig nests, and lay their eggs. One day later I watched newly hatched turtles emerge from the sand and make their way to the ocean, completing a life cycle that required 17 years to complete.
The station is headed by Roger Obregon, the somewhat incongruous director who both works and lives at the research centre with two other permanent researchers. Volunteers stay at the station, where the staff prepare three meals a day in addition to the work done around the clock to protect and catalogue the turtles that return to the nearby beach to build a nest.
. The beach is patrolled at night, the time when the recently buried nests, still full of unhatched eggs, are most vulnerable to both local animal predators and human poachers. Waiting to spot a female climbing out of the ocean, volunteers walk the area using only red light for illumination. White or short wavelength light can disorient the female turtle or cause her to abandon nesting and return to the water. Turtles will only lay eggs on the same beach that they were hatched on, and make only a single attempt at nesting in a breeding cycle. If forced away they will not return until the next cycle -- in the case of green turtles like this one, almost two decades.
After digging a nest in the sand using only her hind flippers the turtle begins laying eggs. The turtle you see here laid 118 eggs over the course of an hour, and during this time the volunteers record the number of eggs, the size of the turtle, and also tagged it for later identification in the hope it will be seen again, or in the worst case be accounted for if it's found dead.
As the eggs are laid they are carefully removed and placed in a bag. After the female has finished, the volunteers will dig a new nest in the protected area of the hatchery where it can be monitored over the 45 days it will take for the turtles to emerge. Nests are checked daily and when one is found where the hatchlings have emerged it's checked for remaining turtles that were unable to climb out, as well as any unhatched eggs.
The newly hatched turtles may emerge from the nest at any time and can face immediate threats not only from predators, but from the elements as well. It's difficult to resist the urge to help them down to the beach and into the water but it is essential they crawl to the ocean on their own as this allows them to imprint on the beach. The same beach they will return to -- if they survive -- in 17 years.
El Trapiche is a coffee plantation in the mountain town of Monteverde in Costa Rica that has been worked by the same family for generations.
While there it occurred to me that the plantation has produced more than coffee over time: coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, the the people themselves. In this series I wanted to show the relationship between the plantation and the things it produces, the interaction between the mechanical and the organic.