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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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Southern Mexico Turtles

Written by Raenelle on Friday, August 29, 2008
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After a full day of driving along beautiful windy mountain roads down to the coast from Oaxaca, we pulled into the small beach town of Puerta Arista, about 3 hours north of the Guatemala border. We headed straight to the turtle ‘camp’ that I had read about before they closed for the evening.

Turtlet!We soon learnt that olive ridley sea turtles were currently nesting on the 40km of beaches in the area, and that a small core of hardworking volunteers were hard at work every evening patrolling the beaches and collecting the turtle eggs. Along this stretch of beach, we were told that poaching was such a big problem that it was necessary to collect all the turtle eggs and take them back to the turtle camp for hatching and release of the baby sea turtles immediately after hatching.

I eagerly signed up for an evening of turtle work, and Robin came along too! We took off on an ATV along the beach at 10.30pm, and after patrolling 30km of beach, we returned to the turtle camp at around 3.30am. It was a busy night, we were told, as the moon was at a desirable phase, and the tides were high … all conductive to high nesting activity.

All in all, we had a great (albeit exhausting after a full day of driving) evening, and were able to see many of the large turtles laying their eggs. We found 17 nests and collected around 1,600 eggs. Over the course of the whole evening, over 5,000 eggs were collected! We took the eggs to the turtle camp where each nest was separately placed into it’s own ‘artificial’ nest (i.e. a hole in the sand) at the camp. Here, the eggs sit for about 6-7 weeks until the baby sea turtles hatch. There is a 90% survival rate, and every evening, the newly hatched baby sea turtles are released into the ocean.

We assisted with the release of baby turtles (turtlets?!) on two evenings, and it was a great experience … seeing the small little turtles waddle their way to the waves, and then get washed away into the sea … hopefully to return in the future to lay their own eggs on the same beach!

Further Reading on South America 2008:
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Comment by Doug
September 2, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

I got to spend a single night doing this in Barbados. Absolutely amazing… glad you guys had the opportunity to be involved in this important task.

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