Things are pretty quiet here in Sayulita. Most evening we relax with a movie, or have some beer and tacos with friends. Monday night however, was special. Monday we helped some baby sea turtles find their home.
There was a sign in the main plaza, but I’m not sure I would even have noticed it if it weren’t for Matt Karsten‘s breathless email “They’re releasing baby sea turtles on the beach tonight at 7:30 pm.”
I wasn’t about to miss that. In fact, Mike and I were there at 6:30, eagerly waiting. The tiny home grown turtle sanctuary was a ten minute walk down the beach.
Volunteers walk the beach in the evening and early morning hours, collecting turtle eggs. They are then relocated to this safe little patch of beach where they ripen and hatch 45-50 days later.
These turtles had hatched earlier in the day. There were several hundred little guys, around the size of computer mouse. They scrambled up the sides of their enclosure, frantic to fulfill their biological imperative of rushing towards the ocean.
The workers delay the turtle’s release until dusk, when they are less likely to be swept up by hungry birds or trampled by beach goers.
At dusk we all lined up beside a cleared patch of beach. We were each given a turtle, and at the signal we released them and watched them scramble over the rippled sand until they were finally swallowed up by the waves. Only one percent of sea turtles survive long enough to reproduce. If they do, they will return to to lay their eggs on the same beach where they were hatched (even if they have to travel thousands of miles to do it).
My sea turtle, dubbed Little Dude, squirmed eagerly out of my grip and ran headfirst towards the ocean. I silently wished him good luck.
The Campamento Tortuguero is a locally owned non-profit organization that relies on donations. These group releases not only build community, they are an important part of their fundraising process. The work they do is invaluable as many species of sea turtles are threatened by predators and by humans. If you are in Sayulita you can find out when they are planning to release turtles on their facebook page.