Spring break: Fun, sun and saving turtles

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Mount Si High School science teacher Andrew Rapin has concocted the perfect field trip.

Some students may go to get a great tan, some may go for adventure, others may actually go to learn something.

Whatever their desires may be, they should get a chance to fulfill them when Rapin takes 14 students to Costa Rica during spring break next week. The main focus of the 11-day trip will be helping out at a leatherback turtle reservation called the Pacuare Reserve.

Leatherback turtles, the largest reptiles on the planet that can weigh up to two tons and sport shells up to 10 feet long, are endangered. Their eggs are considered an aphrodisiac in Asia, which makes them a hot item on the black market.

Students will patrol the beach at night to discourage poachers and encourage turtle hatchlings - which sometimes confuse hotel lights for the ocean - toward the sea.

"I think it will be fun to help the turtles," said junior Krysten Boasch.

Other activities include whitewater rafting up the Sarapiqui River, staying at a hotel on the side of the active Arenal Volcano and racing down a half-mile zipline strung through the canopy of a rain forest.

And, of course, there's the sun.

"It's a chance to go to Costa Rica," said junior Oran Johnson. "That's good enough."

The trip will be supervised, and Rapin said students should gain a better appreciation for protecting the environment.

"I'm really into biology and I will probably study premed when I graduate," said junior Andrea Trettel. "I like all biology, though, not just human. I like to see how living things work."

Rapin thinks the trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to see an example of another type of ecosystem.

"It's a chance to get out of Washington and study one of the most biologically diverse places on earth," Rapin said. "It's a cultural and biological trip."

Be it for biology or the beach, the students are excited for a spring break they can't get at home.

"It will be a good learning experience," said junior Tabitha Albertson.

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@valleyrecord


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