Exploring the Matura landscape.
The district of Matura enriched with abundant rivers and natural resources is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The name Matura originated from Amerindian and Spanish dialects and is referred to as a region of dense unbroken forest. Its 7 miles of coastline is a favourite seascape to observe the nesting of the leatherback turtles. During this time the vast beach of Matura is off-limit to the public and to visit requires getting a permit from the forestry department.
During the 6-month nesting period from February to July hundreds of leatherback turtles come ashore to nest. After 2 months of incubation the young nestling emerges from the sand. The beach is patrolled by Nature Seekers who sometimes tag the turtles as well as protect the beach from poachers. The group also conduct nightly tours, educating and giving visitors the opportunity to witness the turtles in their laying state. During the 45-minute laying period the turtles would go into a trance and remain still. This is a safe time to observe the eggs before they are covered up by its fans and claws. Almost half of the known turtle species are rare, threatened, or endangered. Sea turtle sex is determined by the temperature of the sand nest, rather than by chromosomes. Higher temperatures (88° F or over) produce more female hatchings, while cooler nests (under 82° F) produce more males.
On the western side of Matura there is the river, which is timeless and patient. It remains uncontaminated from human interference as it meanders through the vast landscape of uninhabited and continuous woodland. To experience its natural treasures, one has to explore the full depths of the river. There are numerous pools to swim and enjoy the true splendor of nature.
A favorite fun spot for a river adventure is the Mermaid Basins where there are fascinating pools to splash as well as relax in the beautiful ambiance of the wilderness. Further, upstream a spectacular destination is a day hike to the Manulot Falls. Its source originates from a tributary that cascades into the primary river-channel.
Along the bank, the tall and majestic mora trees add splendor to the already picturesque landscape. The sun shining on the crystal-clear waters reflect vibrant colors of emerald green. It remains a mystery how the name “Mermaid” came about maybe it is the serenity of the landscape and the irresistible temptation to sit on the rocks and sway one’s feet in the soothing waters of the river.
The expedition to the Mermaid Pool starts at Thomas Trace situated just before the Matura Outreach Centre. The downhill trek to the river will take 35 minutes and to access the basins there are two shallow areas to cross.
During the dry season, the landscape is prone to bush-fires and to preserve the environment, the Forestry Division has replanted the forest with pine trees (pinus caribae). These trees not only beautify the landscape but also protect the watershed in the prevention of soil erosion. There is a fire observation tower built at a strategic location to oversee the vast landscape.
Over the years, the popularity of the Mermaid Pool has increased. Irresponsible visitors who go to the river would sometimes leave their trash and light fires for cooking. Because of the sensitive nature of the region, lighting a fire can easily spread and cause widespread destruction to the environment. All it takes is a strong wind to ignite the dry brittle branches.
Parking is usually safe and for a small donation local resident can watch the vehicles. As the popularity of the region increases there is a need for signs to be erected. One is to educate the public on the dangers of lighting fires and the other could be a map highlighting the areas for hiking.
Matura has the potential to be an international tourist destination. The unique nesting of the leatherback turtles along with its clean refreshing rivers makes the place a natural wonder that any tourist will be enthusiastic to visit.