WHERE THE SEA, LAND, AND LIFE MEET
Turtle releasing in Los Cabos
Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas is a place widely known for its natural sculptures, its delicious cuisine, the warmth of its people, and its nightlife. What is better after a night of dancing and partying than sunbathing on one of the spectacular beaches that surround this land. This is not all that this beautiful place has to offer. Sometimes, we forget the things that seem not to be there but are actually of the utmost importance, such is the case of the flora and fauna of the region. Recently I had the opportunity to have an encounter with an animal that although we all know, very little is known about them and their habitat.
Yes, I am talking about the sea turtles. I got to know a little more about these wonderful creatures and participate in a simply unbeatable experience, which is to be a witness to the first flaps of these long- lived animals towards a great adventure called life.
It is important to note that here in Baja California Sur we are fortunate to be visited each year by five of the eight species of turtles that inhabit the world. These species include: the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Brown Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii). These annual visits make the state of Baja California Sur a point of great importance for the feeding, reproduction, and nesting of these creatures.
Unfortunately, the visits of these navigators have decreased drastically due to non-compliance with laws, such as the distance of human settlements from the coasts, and predation, or one living organism killing another living organism for food. There already are, naturally, a large number of these predators, such as gulls, crabs, etc. Other predators, usually introduced by humans, include dogs and cats. Even though the theft of eggs from nests has decreased, there are still documented cases of people who pursue this activity for human consumption of the turtle eggs but also of the meat of the sea turtles. There are also recreational activities that should be more actively punished, such as the the custom of some inhabitants of our State, when riding their 4 x 4 or ATVs along the beach, to drive over the nests and compacting the terrain. The damage to the nests makes it more difficult for the turtle eggs to hatch and the newly hatched turtles to leave the nest.
These are only a few factors, that are against the law, that have caused the populations and visits of these sea turtles to our beaches to decrease. It is reaching the point where several of these turtle species are in danger of extinction.
Fortunately groups of volunteers have been coming forward to help save the endangered sea turtles. One example is, Grupo Tortuguero Pescadero AC, which have been concerned about the lives of these reptiles, and have managed to create turtle camps where they carry out activities to help protect the lives of the turtles. From the moment the adult turtles come ashore to spawn, these groups are in charge of taking care of the entire process so that the turtles are not disturbed. With great care and dedication they search for the nests and collect the eggs that have been laid in the nests. They are then able to safely transport the turtle eggs to the camp and give them the necessary care until the moment of hatching.
In addition, these groups also look for ways to make the entire human population aware of the importance of these turtles in the world.
Let us all become more aware of these groups and support them financially or by volunteering. No matter how small the help for these groups may seem, an extra hand is always welcome!
One of the ways to help raise awareness among the general population is to invite them to live the experience that I have personally found so unforgettable.
From the moment you arrive at the camp it is impossible not to feel emotion and happiness when seeing hundreds of these animals in their nests on the sand, ready to start the great journey. After an informative introduction by the organizers about the valuable role played by these reptiles, you will continue with what is personally an experience I will never forget. Then you will be able to hold in your hand a living creature that looks so small but is actually huge for his environment, that could live to around 200 years old. These sea turtles will be in this world longer than our selves. To Interact and help these baby turtles take the first step in the beginning of their great adventure called Life, is simply indescribable.
Photos by: Victoria Lino & Julio Franco
Grupo Tortuguero Escadero AC
Tel: 612 142 0480