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Baja Life Magazine supports the protection, preservation and management of Baja California's magnificent natural resources. As a means to provide current information to our readers, the staff at Baja Life Online has created this website to continually update you on the many individuals, forward-thinking companies and NGOs that are working hard to balance the use of Baja’s unique eco-systems. Through education and appreciation, our goal is to manage these diverse environments in a sustainable manner that provides for existing and future generations.

Baja's Sea Turtles
The Ocean Ambassadors

 

If one could sit quietly on a Mexican beach long enough, eventually a sea turtle would edge by. Of course, there are beaches where the waiting would be short—minutes or hours—and others where the waiting may be longer—days, months or even decades. But eventually, with time, a sea turtle would haul her body from the ocean, cross your chosen expanse of nighttime sand and pass you by on her way to give life to the beach.

You are among the fortunate. At the tip of the Baja California peninsula, from La Paz, around the Cape, and up to Todos Santos, the chance for a close encounter with one of these ancient ocean voyagers is good. These beaches are the nesting place for Olive Ridleys and the highly endangered Leatherback turtles. I’ve spent the past 15 years learning about these animals and we are only beginning to unravel their mysteries. For example, when the leatherbacks leave the beaches, they may travel as far as South America or Asia in search of their favorite food, jellyfish. The Leatherback turtle’s nesting season takes place from November through February. The Olive Ridley turtles begin nesting in June; their primary nesting season is June to December.

Sea turtles have migrated the oceans and come to the beaches to lay eggs for more than 100 millions years. We are visitors to their dominion. We haven’t always been good houseguests. However, there are some simple things we can do to ease our impact and help them to survive. First, go to the beach on foot. Take off your shoes and feel how loose the sand is. That’s the way the turtles like it. Vehicles pack down the sand and make it hard for turtles to dig nests and hard for the babies to climb out. Second, keep the beaches dark. Turn lights off, away from the ocean or use special “turtle-friendly” lighting. The hatchlings are attracted to the light and will wander away from the sea towards the glow. Last, support the local groups working to save the sea turtles. They are part of a vast network of dedicated people who have devoted themselves to our oceans and its inhabitants.

For more information on where to see Baja’s sea turtles and to support the groups working to save them, contact Grupo Tortuguero

For info in Mexico, contact:
Rodrigo Rangel
Coordinator
Grupo Tortuguero
prangel74@hotmail.com
www.grupotortuguero.org

Kama Dean
Pro Peninsula
kama@propeninsula.org


Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., is a scientist, educator, ocean activist and author. He is currently Director, Pacific Ocean Region, at the Blue Ocean Institute and a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. His extensive research and activities in ocean conservation, animal migration and sea turtle biology have been published in numerous books and research articles as well as in magazines such as National Geographic, National Wildlife, Newsweek, and Scientific American. Nichols is the author of the bilingual children’s book Chelonia: Return of the Sea Turtle, and works with numerous programs to share a hopeful message about environmental protection with young people around the world. He recently trekked the 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail from Oregon to Mexico to celebrate and promote protection of our remaining coastal wildlands. He and his family live in Davenport, California.

Wallace J. Nichols
Director, Pacific Ocean Region

Blue Ocean Institute
Post Office Box 324
Davenport, California 95017 USA
Office: 831.426.0337
Fax: 831.426.0347
jnichols@blueocean.org
www.blueocean.org

Turtle Facts

The Olive Ridley sea turtle has an olive-green shell and really powerful jaws. They like to eat crabs, clams, mussels and shrimp. They are born on a beach but grow up and live in the ocean. After eight years in the water, a female is ready to lay her eggs. She lays eggs every year, unlike most sea turtles which nest every two to three years. Once she buries her eggs she crawls back to the sea and never returns to her eggs. After 45 days the baby sea turtles hatch. They are tiny and black and less than two inches long. They make their mad dash for their new lives in the ocean. Only the females will return to land when it is time for them to lay their eggs.

All seven species of the world’s sea turtles are in danger of extinction. But the Olive Ridley is making a comeback in Mexico. The resurgence is due to measures that officials in Mexico have taken to protect the turtles. There are an estimated 1 million Olive Ridleys in the Pacific nesting population.

The Leatherback sea turtle has a barrel-shaped shell made of rubbery skin. Its jaws are more scissor-like than the Olive Ridley. It likes to eat jellyfish. The Leatherbacks are the largest of the sea turtles. The largest leatherback recorded was nearly 10 feet long and weighed 2,1019 pounds! It is estimated that there are fewer than 5,000 Leatherbacks in the Pacific population.

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