Hello everybody.  Charles Paxton here, I received a communication today from my friend and ARCAS Director, Colum Muccio alerting us to the fact that it is now the height of sea turtle nesting season and inviting us to sponsor a nest again at US $25. Kimmie and I have done so via the dedicated page on their website that has a donate button linked to Paypal. I’ll post news of the tortuguitas (baby turtles) as it reaches us.

I  had the pleasure of visiting ARCAS’s turtle hatchery in Hawaii in the 1990’s. Though they look like cemeteries the hatchery huts are the very opposite, they promise protection for the vulnerable new lives of Olive Ridley marine sea turtles so that they may hatch unmolested by the commercial egg collectors who would sell them in Guatemala city to people who traditionally consume them in drinks for supposed aphrodisiac effects. There would be no difference if they drank chicken eggs of course, and neither beverage could ‘persuade a noodle to dance’.

Anyway, ARCAS volunteers patrol the nesting beaches and try to beat the commercial egg collectors to new nests. They carefully transplant the eggs to protected hatchery huts where they continue their development in safety.

Turtle eggs are reburied in a spiral, touching each other because they benefit from increased resistance to pathogens with gaseous exchangefrom proximity to each other.  On hatching after about 3 months, the babies will be taken to the sand just before the surf zone and then watched by volunteers as they flap their way through the waves to the ‘suck zone’  where they’ll be pulled out to swimming depth and thus launched into the wild blue yonder. It’s important that they flap across the sand as it helps set their orientation for the female’s return as nesting adults.

Giving young turtles a head-start with a safe launch into the surf zone significantly improves their chances of survival because they won’t be sold in the city, dug up and eaten by raccoons or wild pigs, and they won’t get tangled in beach vegetation or eaten by crabs or sea birds on shore. It is thought that turtle parents favour high energy surf beaches like those at Biotopo Hawaii because the turbulence and lack of visibility makes it more difficult for marine predators to catch the young turtles in the shallows. The odds may be stacked against each individual, but if they’re released quickly and safely en masse, then hopefully more of them will survive and thus more return to perpetuate their cycle of life that has been unbroken for millions of years.

If you want to sponsor a Pacific Olive Ridley sea turtle nest yourselves this year please visit the ARCAS webpage by clicking the link or image below and clicking their donate button at the bottom of the page. In the Paypal  instruction box please mention that you’re sponsoring a nest.

http://arcasguatemala.org/donors/sponsor-a-nest/

ARCAS sea turtle hatchery on the Pacific coast of Guatemala at Biotopo Hawaii. ARCAS image and copyright.

ARCAS sea turtle hatchery on the Pacific coast of Guatemala at Biotopo Hawaii. ARCAS image and copyright.

Contact ARCAS for more information
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association, Guatemala
Asociaciòn Rescate y Conservaciòn de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)