Discovering Treasures Inside "Golf Balls": Little Olive Ridley Turtles
I had to wear socks that night, to step on wet sand right on the beach and it was too cold for me. We were halfway through our night patrol on a part of Banderas Bay and we had not found any nests or turtles yet.
For the rest of the patrol, our guide, who is a marine biologist, explained to us the importance of night patrols. During the high season they find an enormous quantity of nests, to the extent that ATVs are needed to transport the eggs to the camp's safe area. Otherwise, they are exposed to raccoons, cats, sea egrets and unfortunately...humans.
On our way back to the camp, almost at the end, we were suddenly asked to turn off our lanterns. The biologist had detected turtle flipper-prints (honestly, I have no idea how he could differentiate them from human footprints) and we followed them until we found an Olive Ridley turtle just about to start nesting.
So we observed her from a distance that was comfortable to her during the process. She used her back flippers to dig a deep hole and once she was satisfied with the result, she began to release her eggs. It was in this moment that all of the girls said "Awwe", because the turtle mom began to cry. Naturally, we thought it was because she was having labor pains or something of that sort, but the biologist clarified it to us and explained that she was eliminating the salt excess in her eyes, along with the sand that reached her eyes when she was digging. He also told is that during that moment she was going into some sort of a "trance", so with his authorization we approached her and helped him to collect the eggs that the turtle was releasing little by little.
It has been almost two years since I first touched a turtle egg, and confirmed first hand that they are like golf balls, just softer and covered by a shockproof viscous liquid so that they don't suffer any damage when they fall to the nest. But most importantly, to experience the feeling of life inside those little white balls and to know that in some way I was helping those hatchlings to have a more significant opportunity to hatch without danger defined that night. I forgot about the cold, the tiredness and the ache in my feet's thumbs.
I am very glad that initiatives like this one are having support; the kind that protect local animals and educate people. After volunteering at that camp, I went from knowing the basics about turtles to actually care about them.
I'm volunteering again this year and I am sure that I will find more volunteers (just as last year) ready to support the conservation of the beautiful Olive Ridley turtles along Banderas Bay.
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