Hatchling Release


Trent had a great time at the Tortuga Vivero (turtle nursery) a few nights ago.  Sayulita’s beach is a nesting spot for the Pacific Ridley turtle.  A Ridley shell is about 30 inches long–these are not giant leatherbacks.  After 3-5 years in the ocean, the females land on the beach at night and dig a deep hole with their flippers.  After depositing an average of 40-60 eggs the females head back to the sea.  Eggs incubate 40-50 days, if left unmolested.  Both dogs and people will dig up the eggs to eat.    As part of the effort to educate the locals and increase the number of hatchlings, a small swathe of beachfront, maybe 40 feet across by 20 feet deep, has been roped off as a nursery. Each stick represents the eggs from one turtle nest, or nido. The wire helps contain the hatchlings until dusk.

Unfortunately the turtles can’t read the signs that say VIVERO, so they dig their nests wherever they land.  Volunteers walk the beach at night looking for mama turtles delivering their eggs.  They let her finish, then dig up the eggs and move them to the protected area.  Normally, when a hatchling erupts they head straight down to the water.  But to increase the survival rate (1 out of 100 in the wild), the turtle keeper holds all the hatchlings from each day, and releases them at dusk.  This increases the turtles strength and decreases their predators’ (mostly birds and fish) ability to see them.  The volunteers are trying educate locals and visitors about their habitat to increase the turtles survival rate.

A bit after dusk, the turtle keeper volunteer take a short 2×4 and drags it down the sand from the vivero to the water.  Then all the kids take hatchlings out, place them on the sand, and off they go.

Hope your Thanksgiving was nice–as ours was.  We went to a courtyard restaurant downtown that offered a  traditional meal, even pumpkin pie.  We went with Carson’s family, the boys played while we talked.  Annie of  Annie Bananie Jewelry joined our table, as did Nicki, one of the teachers from school. The lights went out for 10 minutes during dinner which added to the fun, especially for the little ones.  We all whipped out our cheap Mexican cell phones (which don’t always work well) but they do have a built-in flashlight.

We’ve had 2 cloudy days which is actually a treat.  It’s charming to see all the locals wearing long pants and sweaters and complaining about the cold when it’s only 70 instead of 80.


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