Morgan and the Turtles of Ayotocali

Morgan, my granddaughter, is volunteering at the turtle sanctuary.  She goes out at night and patrols the beaches of Playa Larga and Barra de Potosi looking for signs of turtle nests and for laying turtles.  When nests are discovered they are carefully removed and transported back to the turtle sanctuary’s incubator area and reburied at the exact same depth that mama turtle placed them. Then the nest is labeled with the exact geographical coordinates of  their original location, time and date and any other information they might have about the particular nest.  When a laying turtle is discovered they stay with her until she is finished laying her eggs and safely back to sea.  They do  this to protect the mama turtle from predators, both man, wild dog packs and other wild animals that might be about. Only one in 1000 of the little hatch-lings will live to adulthood to mate and return to the beach where they were hatched to continue this life cycle.  That is why this project is so important.

When the nest hatches in about 60 days the turtles are care fully released on the sand at sunset.  They head towards the light of the setting sun and then swim out to sea. The staff and volunteers are careful not to handle the babies so no human bacteria is transfer to the babies.  And what is best of all you can personally participate in the almost nightly turtle releases.  The staff will give you your turtle(s) in a little bowl and when instructed you gently let the turtle slip out of your bowl on to the sand and the race to the sea is on!

The sanctuary does a lot of work with the local children, teaching them why it is wrong to harvest and eat turtle eggs, or turtle meat.  They have camps during the summer and work with the schools during the rest of the year. If you are in Mexico with children this is a must see project. They will learn a lot about turtles and their life cycle and have an unforgettable experience.  If you are an adult, you also will learn a lot and enjoy the great experience of giving mother nature a helping hand.

There is a $200 peso donation asked for visiting the turtle sanctuary and participating in the turtle releases,and all donations are appreciated.  This is an all volunteer program. They do have programs where for a nominal fee you can adopt a nest and of course T shirts and other souvenirs are available for purchase to help fund this very important program. There are almost always volunteers from the sanctuary at the Eco- Tianguis Sanka, the little Saturday morning market that sets up across the street from the museum next to the school.  They will be more than happy to share their knowledge of turtles and the releases.  Signing off  KO



Campamento Tortuguero Ayotcalli Turtle Rescue Center


This who it is all about

The Senior and I had the opportunity to go to the Turtle rescue to help release some hatch-ling turtles and spend the night at the lovely Casa de Tortuga.  All this because I had the winning bid at a Sailfest auction .

I f you have never been there for a sunset turtle release,  go. Go now, go next year but by all means go. Turtle releases are done from August to March .

The volunteers do nightly turtle patrols the 15 Km of Playa Blanca and Playa Largo to locate the female turtles. Then they

Turtle nests in incubation area

stay with her to protect her from predators and poachers while she lays her eggs and see that she gets safely back to sea to repeat this cycle again.  Next, they move the entire nest of eggs to their incubator area where the eggs are placed at the same depth they were found. Each nest is labeled as to type of turtle eggs and the approximate date expected to start hatching. During prime turtle season, they patrol the beach from 10 or 11 at night until dawn.  This is very important to locate and protect as many turtle nests as possible. The survival rate is only 1 in 1,000.

The night we were there, March 6th, we and about 20 others arrive at a little sheltered

Standing at the line

class room area for an interesting educational presentation of the life cycle of the turtles, how the waters of Mexico are home to many varieties, and what the general public can do to help more turtles survive.  After a question and answer session, we adjourn to the beach and lined up behind a line drawn in the sand.  Just as the sun is setting, the volunteers place 2 hatch-lings in our bowl, then we are instructed to slide the turtles out of our bowls onto the sand and watch them head

My two turtles, both were very fast

towards the ocean.  This an extremely important step, and a beautiful site to watch as they move over the sand memorizing this exact location. If she is female and if she

survives to 10-15 years of age, she will return to the very place we released her.  She will come ashore to lay her eggs and the cycle will continue.  If he is a male his sole mission in life other than survival is

Run for the ocean at sunset

finding a female at the right time.

On this night about 200 hatch-lings were released, some were very quick as if they knew exactly what their mission was, others were slower and a couple didn’t quite know which direction to go, but eventually they all got to the ocean and we wished them success.

We went back to the classroom/store made our donations, bought souvenirs, happy in the knowledge we had done something to help. As this very worthwhile project is funded

Our quarters for the night

strictly by donations.  We retired to our lovely quarters to relax and sleep as I need to be up at 5  to go on turtle patrol on the ATV.  As it is very late in the season for turtles to be laying, they are only doing one patrol a night, we did not see any turtles or nests.  Still  a pre dawn ATV beach ride on Playa Larga and Playa Blanca offered an exceptional view of a sky full of  stars, than I have seen in years, crabs skittering across the sand and few birds and a

KO and the ATV

duck or two, a 30 mile round trip that had me back just after first light of day.  Quite the adventure!  One I plan to repeat next year during prime turtle season. Signing off KO