Marine Turtles: Brave survivors of the planet's evolution.

Author:
Mireille Pasos
Marine Turtles in Puerto Vallarta

Turtles are fascinating millennial animals that have existed since approximately 250 million years ago. True witnesses of the evolution and brave survivors of the constant changes of the planet, they are persistent reminders of the ages of the dinosaurs that have been even called "living fossils".

Turtles Despite the technological and scientific advances of our era, what we know about the turtles is actually very little. The true nature of most of the elements of their behavior is unknown, and the explanation about their origin is based in mere theories. It is believed that they evolved from small animals called cotylosaurus, which started to gather osseous material on their skin, giving as a result the formation of the protective armor that covers their exterior nowadays. They belong to the class of the reptiles, they are directly related to the iguanas, crocodiles and serpents, and they adapted themselves to the marine life 100 million years ago.

Marine Turtles Turtles are not brain-evolved animals, but they have very well-developed senses of vision, smell and hearing that provide them with an incredible orientation capability, these allow them to perfectly identify the precise moment and the exact spot of reunion for their reproduction even though they live disperse along the immensity of the oceans.

Every single year in the time between July and November, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles arrive to many beaches in Los Cabos, looking for the perfect place to lay their eggs. During this period, female turtles take transcontinental trips to go back to the beach where they were born and lay their eggs there, while the male turtles never go back to the sand.

Laying eggs in Mexican beaches Taking advantage of the protection of the night, turtles await until the sun sets to choose the right spot to lay their eggs. Once they have found the perfect side of beach, far from the constant activity of the waves, they use their front fins to dig a hole with an approximately 2-meter diameter where they will later on build their nest. These holes in the sand are called beds. Turtles generally dig several beds before choosing the one they will lay their eggs in.

When the turtle has chosen a bed, it proceeds to build the nest with its rear fins, the nest has an approximate profundity of half a meter and it has the shape of a buried bottle that widens towards the bottom. After laying the eggs, the turtle covers up the nest with sand and then it returns to the ocean.

new-born Marine Turtles Forty-five to sixty days after the eggs are laid; the offspring begin to come out from the eggs. The small new-born turtles help each other with synchronized movements so they can get rid of the sand that covers the nest and they can finally reach the surface, then, their race towards the ocean starts.

Unfortunately, only one of every 5,000 turtles will reach an adult age. The new-born have a 5-centimeter size, and they have to fight against endless dangers during the first days of their lives. The most common threats for the baby turtles are octopuses, crabs, and seabirds, but the most aggressive danger they have to overcome is man himself, since men have brought them into danger of extinction. This is the reason why the Mexican Government has declared an absolute ban to the exploiting of this species and has implemented protection programs.

Turtle liberation programs Seven from the eight turtle species known in the world, lay their eggs in Mexican beaches that is the reason why there is a great emphasis put on their preservation. In Los Cabos there are 5 species in protection thanks to a program started in 1999 with the purpose of demostrating touristic development and environmental conservation can harmoniously coexist.

The turtle camps are among the measures that have been taken for the protection of the marine turtle. Turtle camps are places where artificial nests are built to guard the eggs that have been laid on the beach, so they can be kept from their predators. These camps rely on the help of very-well capacitated people. These groups are generally formed by scientists who carry out important investigations, and volunteer students who donate their time and effort to this significant task.

Turtle camps feature night patrol programs and turtle liberation programs. Throughout these camps you can now be a part of this incommensurable effort, in them you will be capacitated by means of an informative video, and then you will be guided by an expert in every step of this great adventure. Come and be a part of the conservation of this fascinating species!