Who is Olive Ridley?
06 February 2010 | Puerto Vallarta
Well, a few days ago we had another amazing experience. In Nuevo Vallarta there is a group of volunteers that with some federal funding and donations manage a turtle hatchery. They scour the beaches at night, looking for female turtles depositing their eggs. They dig them up and re-bury them in a more secure spot. When they hatch they release them at night which is safer time for the turtles to make their journey since the birds are all sleeping. We were able to participate in a turtle release! There were 500 baby Olive Ridley turtles from about 5 litters or batches (or whatever you call the bunch of eggs that turtles lay). Their odds of survival are grim - only about 1 of the 500 that we released will make it full maturity (about age 30).
The release was amazing. The volunteers drew a line in the sand and as soon as the sun set, we released them and they waddled over to the waters edge - most them getting flipped over by the waves as they sought to enter the water. The volunteers explained that just before entering the water they flip their heads up to the sky and read where they are relative to the stars and in 30 years the females will return to precisely the same place to lay more eggs. To make up for their slim odds, turtles lay eggs frequently. Once they reach maturity, they will lay 100 to 150 eggs four times a year.
Once the little turtles get to the water, they will have the strength to survive 10 days to get to a group of islands (Tres Marietas) at the edge of Banderas Bay where they will live and grow until they are ready to return to lay their eggs.
The boys were really touched by the experience and continue to ask whether "our" turtles would now have arrived at their destination. We were also told about the dangers of plastic in the water for turtles as they mistake plastic bags for jelly fish so we are very conscious of picking up floating plastic and proudly say that we've probably saved another turtle!
After leaving La Cruz we moved on to a small bay called Yelapa. Their slogan is that a "palapa in Yalapa is better than a condo in Redondo". A palapa is the thatched roof structures you see in Mexico. After seeing the beautiful lush bay, it was easy to see how this would be the case. There are no paved roads, only cobble stone so the only way around town was to walk or to ride a mule. We decided to have a touristy day and rented two mules and explored the town. The mules had a mind of their own so they led us to where they wanted to go (back to their corral!!) but after a lot of coaxing we rode them to one of the town's claims to fame...a beautiful waterfall with a pool at the base. It looked like the scene out of Jurassic park and was very beautiful.
After Yelapa, we moved further south to Chamela Bay where we met up with some friends on a trimaran called Meshach. They have a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl so the boys had a blast playing with them. Chamela has a river that runs into the ocean at the edge of the beach, so the boys had a lot of fun getting pulled by the current and swimming towards the ocean. The three boys did get scraped up by rocks and barnacles but after some quick first aid treatment they were right back on the beach...
The next night we anchored at some islands in Chamala Bay and the kids found a beach with an infinite amount of hermit crabs. They had a blast filling their buckets with piles of hermit crabs (abput 200 of them!) and at the end of the afternoon, we drew two lines in the sand for a start and finish line and we enjoyed watching the hermit crab race.
We have now moved on to Tenacatita and will stay here for a few days. It is a great spot where you can take the dinghy up a river jungle and apparently there are crocs there....more adventure for tomorrow...
Hope all is well....miss you Mel