Vacationing at Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico is a luxury I deeply appreciate. The resort grounds are manicured, but the beach is where you will usually find me. I love to watch how the tides change the interaction between the sea and the sand daily—and sometimes minute by minute. Holding a newly hatched baby turtle as it struggled to follow its overwhelming instincts to get to the water was amazing. I did not pick it up myself, nor was I doing anything illegal. If I had been, I would have been subject to a fine of up to 50,000 pesos (about 5000 US dollars.) I was fortunate enough to encounter the Mazatlan Aquarium’s turtle restoration effort 20 minutes before a scheduled baby turtle release. As resort guests crowded around, the director of the program explained, through a translator, how nests of turtle eggs are rescued from the dangerous beaches, incubated until the babies hatch, and released on the shoreline and guarded until they make their way into the water. Each baby has a very limited chance of ultimate survival.
Only one or two out of every hundred released will eventually reach maturity (up to 700 pounds) and actually reproduce. The crowd of 50 or so humans was enough to keep the marauding birds at a distance. The babies were removed from their battered Styrofoam coolers and placed into our hands. We were instructed to hold the squirming little life until the signal to release them all onto the wet sand at the same time. (We were also told to name our turtle and wish it well. Maisie did not want to wait!) As we placed our turtles on the sand, others were released a dozen or two at a time and the march to the sea began. The lapping waves assisted some and tossed others higher on the beach. The urge to help was overwhelming. In 20 minutes or so all the beach was completely clear—as if nothing the least bit extraordinary had happened. ***************************************** Enjoy Jonathan’s other wildlife photos as well. Wonderful birds, mostly Frigates, circled every afternoon. Other types of shore birds entertained us throughout the day. Crabs of all sizes did their weird sideways scuttle. Jonathan took some amazing close-ups of a two-inch hermit crab. (That is a crab that lives in shells borrowed from other creatures.) The iguanas were especially fun to watch. The best sighting was a large one eating a pile of fallen flowers that helpful resort staff had left under a bush. When it wandered onto the patio, one of the bar tenders placed two maraschino cherries on the ground and it consumed those as well. It didn’t stay long though; it scampered across a four-inch wide wall to an island in the swimming pool. Another iguana swam across the pool so quickly it seemed to suddenly be transported to the other side. Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures of these weird looking reptiles.