Nov 16

Turtles, completed

Category: animals,Travel

So on our last day in Cozumel, late in the day, we decided to make a trip around the island in order to wring every possible moment out of the place.  After renting a jeep (expensive) we took off to visit the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio in the center of the island.  But more on that some other time.  When we were done, we drove to the east side and then south, so that we’d make a loop and partially circumnavigate the island.  It had occurred to me that we might find some turtles, but I didn’t get my hopes up.  The sun was setting, the mosquitos were fierce, and we were hungry and tired.

Really, it was too much to ask for.

But we received it anyway.

In the distance we saw a truck parked near the beach and a handful of people excitedly looking at the ground.  Could it be…?  Yes!  The truck had a picture of a turtle painted on it.  It was the Cozumel turtle salvation project!  We careened to the side of the road as if responding to an emergency.  We leaped out and approached the turtle workers and the 3 other tourists present.

We were told that yes, it was OK for us to be there, in fact, we were invited to pick up some turtles and put them in the water.  Unbelievable!  In the states this would result in some kind of misdemeanor for handling endangered species or something.  Here, we simply acted like adults, and under the supervision of (supposedly) qualified experts, handled some little turtles. Everywhere we looked, miniature turtles were bursting from the sand and running full-out towards the beach.  I was paranoid about crushing one underfoot.  “Careful, Dan,” I told myself, “That’s just what I need, to know that I crushed a baby endangered green sea turtle while amusing myself on vacation.”

They were all over the place!

They were all over the place!

Little green sea turtles

turtle

Be free! Good luck.

Holly clutching a squirming turtle

Holly clutches a squirming turtle

Later, on the Cozumel turtle salvation web site, I found the following:

As more and more tourists hear about the nesting turtles, many climb into cars and head out for the other side of the island just to take a look for themselves. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!! Because the volunteers then have double the work. First they have the physically exhausting tasks of tagging and excavating nests and then having to spend valuable time explaining to stray tourists why they can’t walk on the beach or shine their headlights toward the water takes valuable time away from actual turtle monitoring.

In our defense, we were not there when eggs were being deposited, which is apparently the delicate time; you don’t want to scare a mother turtle away from the beach, or attract her with headlights.  We were invited to participate, and donated something to the cause… or at least to the individuals on the beach.  Hopefully it helped.  I like to think that we were less obnoxious than the other lady tourist who insisted on picking up every single turtle she could find and personally putting it into the water, instead of limiting herself to a few trapped or upside-down individuals…  it was annoying.

Unlike many shows i’ve seen on TV, there was no horde of waiting birds to pick up and easy meal.  As far as I could tell, every turtle made it to the water.  Underwater might have been a different story – I’d like to be there with scuba gear sometime, and film them 25 yards from the beach.

All of the pictures from the Cozumel trip can be found at my gallery.

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