A Night with Sea Turtles!

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A firsthand account by Devra Traiman, one of our Volunteer English Teachers

This month, I was fortunate enough to witness the natural beauty of one of the world’s oldest surviving species and participate in their conservation. A few hours after nightfall, biologist Alejandro Peña lead my group of volunteers to Playa Teopa, where we drove along the beach in ATVs on the lookout for nesting sea turtles. Without any moonlight or light pollution, we could see solely by the light of the stars and our headlamps.

After about an hour, we found our first nesting mother. It was clear how exhausted she was from her long migration and the laborious work of nesting, and we could hear her deep breaths as she laid her eggs. I collected all 75 eggs before she covered them with a deep layer of sand, carefully removing each soft, translucent sphere from the nest to transport them to the protected hatching facility. We found two more nesting turtles throughout the night, with nests of 93 and 110 eggs each.

When we returned to the turtle camp to transplant the nests, there were over a hundred hatchlings ready to be released into the ocean. I held these tiny baby sea turtles in my hand, and it was truly magical. We took the hatchlings to a specific location on Playa Teopa, placed them on the sand several meters from the water, and waited for them all to slowly but surely reach the ocean. We all knelt down in the sand and crept after them toward the ocean, shining our light on the sea if a baby lost its way. I could hear hundreds of tiny footsteps on the sand, feeling their way toward the ocean that they somehow, some way knew was home.