Monday, October 14, 2013

Sea turtle spectacle

Dene Moore, The Canadian Press
Far from the bikini-lined beaches and booze-fuelled bars of Cabo San Lucas, I lie on the sand of some remote Mexican dunes waiting for the sun to near the horizon, a growing nursery of baby sea turtles squirming beside me.

It’s September, the hottest and most humid month of the year on the tip of the Baja Peninsula, and while it may be enough to melt this pasty white Canadian, it’s perfect weather for my little companions. Five species nest on the peninsula, some crossing the ocean from as far away as Japan to return to their breeding grounds: olive ridley, green, loggerhead, leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Beside me, Paula Dyke of St. John’s, N.L., has struck gold in her nest, in the end piling about 60 turtles into a penned enclosure to be shepherded across the dunes to the oceanfront.

“When I pulled the first turtle out of the nest and brushed the sand of its shell, I thought nothing about the evening would top that. I was wrong. Apparently, my nest was like the motherlode – over the next 20 to 30 minutes I dug handfuls of turtles out of the sand,” she said.

“It was crazy. I felt like a proud parent looking at my babies.”
The odds of survival are one in a thousand for every egg laid, but those odds are improving thanks in part to conservation efforts that began more than a decade ago with local fishermen.

Few of the turtles we released will live long enough to return, but they now have at least four more fans on their side.

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