The sea turtle nesting season continues in Puerto Vallarta, and this year a significant number of females have arrived to spawn, to the extent that volunteers from Tortugueros cannot cope to collect the nests.
“This season has been extraordinary, every day we are collecting more nests, there are times that we can’t reach all the nests,” said Emanuel Rivas Rivera, a volunteer for the Marine Turtle Protection Association.
The nesting season in Puerto Vallarta begins in June and ends in January. During this period, the collection of about 3,000 nests is estimated, of which around 300,000 eggs may be collected, however, looting and trafficking of turtles in the nesting areas put the sea turtle at risk.
Of every thousand turtles that manage to hatch, only 1 will reach adulthood, hence the importance of respecting the nesting areas and preserving the nests in order to continue the survival of the sea turtle.
According to Sea Turtle Conservancy, sometimes people encounter sea turtles on their own while walking on the beach at night during nesting season. If this happens to you, here are some simple rules to follow:
- Do not walk on the beach with a flashlight or shine a light in the sea turtle’s face. The light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach.
- Do not take pictures using flashes. This high-intensity light can be even more disturbing than the flashlights.
- Stay clear and out of sight of the turtle until she begins laying eggs, otherwise you may scare her back into the sea.
- For your safety, stay away from the turtle’s head. Sea turtles, especially loggerheads, have very strong jaws and can harm you if provoked.
- Do not handle the eggs or put any foreign objects into the nest. You can introduce bacteria or injure the eggs.
- Do not handle or ride the sea turtle. In addition to being illegal, you may injure the turtle or cause her to leave without finishing nesting.
- Do not disturb tracks left by turtles. Researchers sometimes use the tracks to identify the type of turtles that nested and to find and mark the nests.
- Do enjoy the experience, and remember it for the rest of your life.
If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, call authorities. Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
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- What is the exact location of the animal?
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
- What is the approximate size of the turtle?
- Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
- What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?
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