Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Opening a coconut

Tortuguero is on the Caribbean coast, and Costa Rica is tropical, of course, so that means that there are lots of coconut palm trees. This gentleman used a machete to slice open a coconut for us.

This occurred on the grounds of a research and conservation center for sea turtles that is on the narrow strip of land just along the beach. Costa Rica attracts environmentalists and students from around the world who come to study the plant and animal life and the potential effects of global climate change and other environmental subjects.

On our first trip to Costa Rica, when we toured around to various parts of the country, we repeatedly encountered young people from the USA and Europe who were in Costa Rica to study environmental topics or to work at various conservation projects. My wife made the comment that Costa Rica today is a magnet for young environmentalists in a manner similar to Paris of the early 20th century having been a magnet for artists and writers from around the world.

One of the young environmentalists attracted to Costa Rica is my niece. She spent one summer in college in Costa Rica, which was a perfect location because she was a biology major with a Spanish minor. The went to the sea turtle conservation center in Tortuguero for three days. She later obtained a Watson Fellowship, established by the former Chairman of IBM, which funds a very select group of college graduates to spend one year studying an environmental topic in parts of the world they had never been to previously.

She developed a program to study sea turtles and the effects of conservation and ecotourism on the people and communities near sea turtle populations. She wanted to go back to Tortuguero as one of the sites for her research but could not do so because she had been already been there for three days. So, she made the arrangements and set up a program for herself to work and do research for 3 months on Cayman, then 3 months in South Africa, 3 months in Australia, and 3 months in Panama. A nice gig, don't you think?

My niece has followed up her sea turtle studies during her fellowship by pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. We are obviously very proud of her (and I neglected to mention that she was a star on her Bowdoin College varsity ice hockey team, but I imagine it is hard to keep up her ice hockey skills while studying tropical marine biology).


Anonymous said...

I would probably cut off my hand if I ever tried this. There is another wicked way to get the husk off and that looks almost as bad as this. Nice post.

Sharon said...

This looks a little dangerous to me. Getting to the coconut meat is a job not for the weak.

Julie ScottsdaleDailyPhoto.com said...

i cannot imagine opening a hard coconut with a machete. Quite a talent.

Jarart said...

I don't think I'd try that! We have been out of town and trying to catch up with the blogs but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the pictures of the animals last week. The close up of the monkey is fantastic.

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