In the midst of turtle season at Pez Maya: Mommies and babies!
Volunteer Katie chose an excellent month to come to Pez Maya as we’ve had some incredible turtle experiences recently. Read on to hear about her closeup encounters:
During my first week at Pez Maya we were all really excited to witness a green turtle digging a nest right in front of base, laying her eggs, and then making her very slow way back to sea. She was huge, measuring 1.16m by 1.03m, and I can’t even begin to imagine how many decades ago she was born on this beach. Watching this in itself was an amazing thing to see but I could not help but feel a little disappointed that my four weeks here would not allow me to see the baby turtles hatch, after all how cute are baby turtles! However, much to my delight, there happened to be another nest nearby full of turtle eggs close to hatching that none of us were even aware of.
Just two weeks after the green turtle, as we were clearing up after dinner, we heard someone shout “BABY TURTLES!” from the beach and in a mad rush the communal area emptied as we all hurried to the beach to see this wonder. It looked like the beach was moving as the tiny turtles fought their way over the sand, though most of them seemed to be moving away from the sea..? So, armed with our super technical turtle transportation equipment, a.k.a. gloves, we quickly turned the baby turtles towards the sea to help them on their epic journey. Our base manager, Jodie, has worked with turtles before and she guided us in this process. Apparently turtles need to make most of the journey from nest to sea unaided, in order to imprint the location so as to return to their beach of birth one day.
We also learned that these little guys were loggerhead turtles, a different species to the one that nested a few weeks prior. At Pez Maya we are taught about four species of turtles that we might get the chance to see during our time here: green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback. Seeing two out of four species up close on land is very lucky! Loggerhead turtles can lay over 100 eggs, and it certainly seemed to be the case this time. Though we never did manage to locate the nest to confirm numbers…
The baby turtles were so small that three could easily have fitted in my hand, yet when I picked them up their strength was to be marveled at. As we carried them closer to the shore their little flippers continued to move as they fought to get to the sea. I watched one in particular as it struggled over the remaining beach. When the tiny turtle finally made it, myself and the others watching were so happy until the tide brought it back to us, and away again… then back and away… then back and away… and back… this could go on for a long time. Eventually this tiny turtle did not return to us but hopefully it will return to Pez Maya one day to lay eggs of her own perhaps or just to say “hi” to the volunteers who helped it find its way back to the big old blue.
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