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.
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.
To visit my other turtle post, click here.