Friday, November 28, 2008

Turtles in Baja

Baja's clorful nature and wildlife offers many possibilities to experience the pure life and to become part of some of the most beautiful things in life. Watching the whales breeding in Baja warm waters, swimming with the dolphins, or releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

The coast along the Baja California peninsula and the sea of Cortez is home to five of seven spieces of the world's sea turtles; Hawksbill (Tortuga Carey), Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama, Amarilla o Cabezona), Leatherback (Tortuga Laúd), Green Turtle (also Black Turtle, Tortuga Prieta, Negra o Verde) and most abundant of all the species of sea turtle, Olive Ridley (Tortuga Golfina). All of them are endangered and four are ecologically extinct. Baja's organization Grupo Tortuguero is one of the companies formed to address the main threats to turtles survival. Often you can see their members on the beaches of Baja Sur oranizing a release and short educational seminar for children and by-passers who participate at the release of baby turtles.

While release of baby turtles are still quite often, in November I counted up to two releases per week, Grupo Tortugero says, that releases today are much rarer than they used to be. Poaching, incidental captures in fishermen nets, collection of eggs and meet for consumption, costal development and ocean pollution are some of the most threathening factors to turtle extinction. Sea turtles mature very slowly and live very long lives. They need to reach 20 to 30 years of age before they are sexually mature and able to reproduce, and most sea turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay their eggs.

I was present at one of the releases of baby turtles, and they were adorable. And the whole experience is just amazing.

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