“Here they are” Jim places the heavy cardboard box filled with sand onto the patio floor. Cissy, the family dog, snifs at it. “There are 9 left”. We pull back the plastic cover to see 9 baby sea turtles.
On an early December afternoon, we talk as we watch clouds drift above the calm sea at Playa Miramar. ¨Our workers saw them hatching out of the sand, taking off for the water. There were forty all together. These nine are the ones that didn´t seem quite ready to go.¨
With the nest right where ATV´s pass by, it was decided to move the turtles and keep them until they were ready.
¨Itzel´s here.¨ Itzel is a marine biologist, and works with the nearby Mayan Palace Resort. Timing her visit for the high tide, she says her ´hellos´, then walks down to the waves to fill a bucket with sea water. ¨Cissy . . . ¨ says Sue, as her dog pokes her nose into the box. Cissy looks at her as if to say, ¨what, I didn´t do anything?¨
¨See, they still have the umbilical cord. That will be their, como se dice, ´nourishment´ for the first week in the ocean.¨ Itzel dunks a turtle into the bucket to rinse off the sand, and looks it over to check how healthy it is. ¨This is the third bunch to hatch on the beach this year, neighbor Tom says. ¨they look pretty active. Are they ready?.¨
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles find the northernmost part of their breeding range near Puerto Penasco Mexico. Earlier this year, a large female walked ashore in the middle of busy Sandy Beach. Among the sun bathers, mango vendors, and glittering condos, she laid a clutch of eggs. Immediately fenced and monitored by members of Mexicos environmental and natural resource agency SEMERNAT, the nest was watched with high expectations. However, perhaps due to unusually high temperatrues this past summer, the eggs did not hatch.
Although Olive Ridleys nest farther south in great numbers (near Puerto Vllarta), worldwide they are considered an endangered species. This is why they receive extra care and attention from people like Itzel.
Now we are down at the edge of the water. Plucked from the bucket, the turtles are placed in a row a few feet from the waves. And…nothing. Once in a while a flipper will flip, but minutes go by. Certainly not the wild race to the foamy spray I was expecting.
Then the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and little by little the warmth gets them moving. Itzel picks one up and strokes it. ¨In Nayarit they do this to help them.¨ With high tide now past, the water is slipping away fast. A decision is made, and we walk the turtles out where it is deeper.
¨Good luck little guy.¨ We place them in the gentle waves that are still strong enough to roll them over and send them backwards. Itzel hold puts up her hand as if to say ¨just watch.¨ Sure enough, one by one they turn towards the open ocean and begin paddling with a strong rythym, holding their heads above the water as they quickly disappear from view on their way to the horizon.