CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Ensenada Honda
18 18.318' N, 065 18.008' W
When Sheryl leaves before sunrise for turtle watch, I can always tell what type of morning she has had by what time she returns to the boat. An early return generally means that there were no turtle hatchings. Yesterday she arrived home later, and that was a good
Before the dinghy even bumped the fenders hanging from the side of the boat, Sheryl exclaimed, "We had a boil!" I took her painter and tied off the dinghy, waiting for her to board and explain to me what, exactly, a 'boil' is (largely to dispel the rapidly forming mental image of something awful happening to the turtles involving high temperatures).
As it turns out, a boil is a very happy event. The rather descriptive terminology refers to the appearance of the sand as tiny turtle heads poke out of the sand and bodies begin to wiggle just beneath the surface. It is the first moment of evidence that a nest has hatched.
Often when the turtle watch team arrives at the beach, they have missed the very
early predawn departure of the hatchlings. The only evidence remaining is the tell-tale turtle tracks in the sand. On these occasions, their mission is to count the shells and record the number based on these observations.
Occasionally, they are fortunate enough to catch the migration of the turtles in progress. It is at this point that they spring into action, fending off frigatebirds and providing water and shade to assist the stragglers in their journey to the water.
However, it is rare for them to come across the very genesis of the hatching process. With the sand boiling away, the turtle watch team looked on in awe as the babies wiggled their bodies to the surface, a few struggling to obtain a right-side-up position.
Due to the late hour of the boil, the frigatebirds were in full predatory mode. This necessitated another 'hold and release later' approach to assisting the turtles. After being made comfortable with wet sand in a transport container, the turtles were released in the late afternoon. This gave me another opportunity to watch the magic of these little creatures, first hand, as they took their first swim and soared off through the clear water into the sunset.
Between the end of morning turtle watch and afternoon release, I made another visit to Abbie's School. Nelson and Audrey were on the verge of completing their algebra exams and had just a few more questions. The fact that they were so close to being done with summer school lent plenty of energy to the room. After almost two hours, I suggested that perhaps we should call it a day. Furrowed brows were looking overly burdened. Nelson pleaded, "But we have only a few more problems to complete in order to be finished."
In algebra, though, a few problems could take a while. I recommended a 15- minute break for some time in the sunshine, after which we returned our attention to mathematics. It was 2PM by the time we crossed the finish line, nearly 4 hours after we had begun. These young people were a little dazed from the mental exertions of the day, but that fatigue was overridden by the elation of seeing the job complete. Jubilant thanks poured from their mouths as they headed for the door.
That pretty much encompasses another day in paradise for Team Prudence. From witnessing the birth of over 60 new additions to a critically endangered species, to watching the light bulbs go on over the heads of a couple of truly wonderful kids, we each had a day to remember.