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Let's Help our Sea Turtles!
|Slowly, night after night, sea turtles have begun to emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs on our beaches, pinning their hopes in confidence that their nests will produce hundreds of new generations. Can they succeed this year?
Who is Here to Welcome Them?
After more than 200 million years on this planet, these survival veterans have been coming to our region's beaches every year since long before the first Homo Sapiens stood up on two legs. Some live in Banderas Bay year round, but most come from distant seas, ever faithful to these local beaches where they were long ago incubated and hatched. This year they have begun to arrive in small numbers, which leads me to wonder as to the exact reasons why their numbers have been declining since 2009.
While climatic factors may be involved, we must also think about the conditions of the beaches where they nest. Where there were once endless stretches of pristine sand, they now encounter countless obstacles: seawalls everywhere, glaring spot lights, hundreds of people who disturb them, chairs, tables, umbrellas and the list continues. How can they possibly feel welcomed when they return to such a place?
Fighting Against the Current
Imagine the number of natural hazards they face every day at sea. Now multiply that by the number of fishing nets and hooks and illegal fishers and you may begin to get a vague idea of what I'm talking about. And that is only what adult turtles face, but the risks increase exponentially with the young, whose size makes them easy prey for an endless number of predators. However, over the millenia, they have found a way to compensate for the high natural losses; by betting on the numbers. They lay hundreds of eggs every year so that at least one hatchiling can make it to adulthood. It is estimated that only one out of every thousand hatchlings that reach the ocean waters will actually survive to adulthood.
There have been various efforts to hedge these bets by helping to protect the turtles in Puerto Vallarta since 1987. Since the beginning of the last decade, the list of hotels, condominium buildings and businesses declaring interest in protecting the turtles and their eggs has grown very long. Sadly however, today I don't even need all my fingers to count the sponsors and incubation nurseries still in operation.
The Sociedad Ecológica de Occidente (Western Ecological Society), a nonprofit organization, struggles every day to find the necessary support to continue to protect sea turtles in Puerto Vallarta all the while working tirelessly each night to carry it out the rescues. Tragically, disinterest and indifference are our worst enemies. Puerto Vallarta owes its popularity as a tourist destination to the bountiful gifts nature has bestowed on us and these include the sea turtles. Unfortunately, the serious lack of vision of local companies and their management stand in our way.
As with any gift, we must take great care of each of the turtles that revisit us, as they have become endangered because of us. We have seen how nature can make us pay for our mistakes and yet we have still not learned our lesson.
The Heroes of this Story
This article is dedicated to all the hotels and condominium buildings who, beyond any economic interests that may exist, are committed to this cause, knowing that each and every turtle nest that is protected, may be the key to the survival of the species. Beyond seeking a show for their guests, they are aware that for each and every person involved, who is able to experience the nesting of a sea turtle closely, there is a new person convinced of the importance of protection and conservation of nature.
Thanks to the Barceló and the Marriott CasaMagna Hotels of Puerto Vallarta, as well as Playas Gemeles and Girasol Sur Condominiums for their continued unconditional support, as well as recognition of the local authorities and all those who have given their generous support enabling us to continue to protect sea turtles every day.
To all those hotels, businesses and individuals who have not yet experienced the miracle that takes place every night on our beaches, I invite you to join us one night to protect sea turtles and leave with an memory that will not only change your mind, but will open your senses, to rediscover how wonderful nature really is.