Baby Blues in Mexico

Baby Blues - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Baby Blues – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo not only marks one of the highlights I experienced on a recent trip to Mexico, but a highlight of my life. The beach we stayed on was incredibly beautiful with endless white sand and calm turquoise water. Just outside our room was an enclosed area with numerous little signs posts in the ground, much like a cemetery (see photo below). Curiously I went to investigate, and to my delight I realized these signs marked mounds of recently laid turtle eggs. Each sign had NIDO written on it (meaning nest in Spanish) with the number of eggs buried (usually 100 or more), and the date they were laid. I was instantly appreciative of the care the resorts have put into this endeavor, when it would certainly have been easier to ignore that they have encroached on a turtle nesting beach. Each night the resort security was seen patrolling the beach, and staff would then relocate any newly laid eggs to these protected areas to stop them getting destroyed by beach goers. As I was reading each of the signs, I realized that literally thousands of baby sea turtles were incubating in the sand in front of me. I quickly Googled how long it takes for baby turtles to hatch and at what time of day, learning that it takes about 8-10 weeks and they hatch at night. As they were mostly laid in August, I knew my chances were slim, but a few had July dates, so I was still hopeful of a newborn turtle sighting.

Turtle Hatchery - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Turtle Hatchery – Photograph by Laura Lecce.

Each night after dark I checked for baby turtles, and was disappointed that they all remained buried. Then, one day at noon when I looked out the window, I glimpsed a tiny movement in the turtle enclosure and ran out to find two little blue babies scurrying around in the sand! Worried that the midday sun would quickly cook them, I sent my husband to notify the resort staff while I guarded my babies. The resort staff came running with their “turtle tub” and let us pick them up to put them in (see photo below). They also tracked the little prints in the sand to identify which nest they were born from and started digging to uncover any more which had hatched, but not yet escaped the sand and found 5 more. I asked if they would take them to the water to release them, and they explained to me that if they did, the birds would quickly eat them, so they keep them safe until nightfall. That night as we were walking along the beach, each of the resorts came to the water with their babies in a tub. One of them contained hundreds of teeny, tiny turtles born that day. We were each handed two turtles to place gently on the sand and watch as they scurried into the ocean waves. I will admit that I cried as I did this, completely overwhelmed at the experience, and of knowing that I helped these little cuties safely reach the water. Simultaneously, my heart was also breaking with the realization that many will not make it far, and instead become prey to the monsters lurking in the dark waters. I was also in absolute awe of mother nature, knowing that one day the few girls that make it to maturity, possess in their tiny brains the GPS coordinates of this same beach, which they will revisit (in 20-50 years) to lay their very own eggs.

Being Born is Hard Work - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Being Born is Hard Work – Photograph by Laura Lecce

To visit my other turtle post, click here.

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16 thoughts on “Baby Blues in Mexico

  1. What a privilege to have seen and been there…..beautiful turtles. Are they truly that deep blue? Amazing that they have a troupe of people helping them to their ocean paradise and to protect them. I have always loved turtles and just reading this made me tear up……A great post, thank you for sharing Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Margaret, I was so lucky to stumble upon this experience. They are that deep blue color (no Photoshop). It was humbling to know that they are so well looked after, and obviously hundreds of turtles come back each year to lay their eggs. Sometimes humans do good things… there is hope for us all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That would have been a highlight for me too – you’ve described it so well that I feel as if I was beside you. I hope the little turtles continue to have the kind of good luck that led to them having you and the resort staff to lend them a helping hand in those first few hours!

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    1. Thank you so much Susan for your lovely compliment! It took me while to write this one, as I knew I wanted to get it just right. I wish the little turtles knew how many people are hearing their story and wishing them good luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Myriam, I appreciate your lovely comment! I’m not sure what the numbers would over the years of turtles returning to the beach to nest, but from what I could see, there were hundreds. Each resort along the beach had their own enclosed area, and the staff were very attentive to them. It was so nice to see the amount of concern and care for these little ones. A very positive experience indeed.

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  3. A phenomenal opportunity, Laura. I can only begin to imagine what your heart and soul were experiencing, It’s wonderful to see that such great care is taken to protect the hatchlings. I think I’ve read that something like one of 200 or 300 survives to reach maturity.

    We usually canoe downstream in the river that flows from the lake where we have our cabin in northern Minnesota. There’s a sandy bank where we usually end the run, which the local turtles (including the magnificent snapping turtle) return to, year after year. Raccoons seem to be able to sense the nests and dig them out, but apparently enough survive to keep up the population.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully I wrote it well enough that people got a true sense of what it was like to have that experience. I have read the same, that very few survive, I assume that is why they lay hundreds of eggs, as there is protection (or dumb luck) in large numbers. Those pesky raccoons… I’m sure they would feel too good if they ate a hundred eggs!

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