Saturday, November 3, 2012

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles of San Pancho

First a bit of history:
In the time before people arrived in North America the marine turtles had well established nesting areas along the coastal waters of Mexico. The oldest locals of San Francisco (San Pancho) can still recall the time when hundreds of turtles would climb their way up onto the beaches, where they were hatched from, to lay their eggs.
With the growing human population, changes in the topography of the beaches, and coastal developments have dramatically altered their habitat over the last 100 years. By 1988, turtles have been reduced from tens of thousands to less than 200 nesting turtles per year. 
Conservation efforts to protect the turtles started in the late eighties because of the concerns that the turtles will soon become extinct.
In 1992 the Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. group was formed and built the first marine nursery in San Francisco Nayarit, by that summer the protection of both the Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles had begun. Over the next 20 years the turtle population has gone from 200 to 1,170 nests.
These last few weeks I have had the opportunity to work with this organization and some of the great dedicated people that volunteer each year to save these turtles. The work is varied and very rewarding especially when I got to see the eggs that have been protected hatch and get to release back to the sea at sunset. It was also fun to see the excitement in the faces of some of enthusiastic tourists that were on the beach at that time of release.
More information can be found on the website for the protection of these turtles at

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