Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's Turtle Time!

Every year about this time things get exciting along the beachfront on the east side of the island. This is the open sea side. Also the side I live on. This is the time when the green sea turtles return to dig their nests and lay their eggs.

Unfortunately, the area remaining for these turtles has greatly diminished. Most of the little sandy coves along this rocky side of the island are gone. Destroyed by three hurricanes in less than two years. There still remains a relatively large sandy area though. This one:

This is the view from the road looking towards the water. Remember awhile back I posted about the protest encampment just down the road from me? Well, this is the beach in front of that. Notice the wall of rocks. This was built for two reasons: to keep the turtles from continuing up the beach to the road and to keep people out of the sandiest areas.
Here's a close-up of the nests (after the eggs were removed) showing just how close they come to this fake boundary.

Turtle's eye view of the beach. Note how close the houses are. Can you see the tracks of the turtle going to the nest?

I was ecstatic when I saw this nest. I thought that round white rock in the bottom was an egg!

Volunteers are hand each night to gather up any eggs that have been laid and take them to safety here:
This is the local "turtle farm". It used to be a great place to visit. There were the sand beds with incubating eggs, various tanks with turtles of varying ages and a big holding pen in the water for the turtles about to be released. This organization did a great job of educating people about the turtles and how endangered they are. Even school kids got involved, helping to collect the eggs and "adopting" a nest from egg to release. Not so anymore.
This organization used to be with what we would call the Department of Agriculture. About two years ago it was reassigned to a different agency. Something totally unrelated, like Motor Vehicles or such. Of course, the first agency did not transfer any funding for it and there was no way to fund it from the new agency. It almost shut down. Would have been a shame. I don't know where the funding comes from now but it has greatly reduced its' size and, I'm sure, its' effectiveness.
If you visit the island, stop by, pay the 10 peso entrance fee and take a look. It is located just as you enter the little finger of land called Sac Bajo.

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