Precious hatchlings of San Lorenzo…
San Lorenzo is a small fishing village with a beautifully long beach in Manabí. Located only 15 minutes from the coastal city of Manta, and only about an hour and a half from Las Olas Ecuador, it is possibly the most important area on the entire coast of Ecuador for turtle conservation.
So many turtles…
Four different species of female sea turtles – Green, Leatherback, Olive-Ridley, and recently discovered in Ecuador, the critically endangered Hawksbill turtles – all choose Ecuador’s unique coastline as their nesting place. Surprisingly, they return to the same beach where they themselves were hatched and there is where they lay their eggs.
Every year starting in January, these gentle mothers abandon the security of the ocean and make their way up to the beach to begin their nests. Even when a nest is successfully laid, they are very vulnerable on land and become susceptible to the harm of other animals and humans. For these reasons, the people from San Lorenzo and volunteers from across the country work together to protect the nests.
The long wait…
The volunteers wait patiently for over 2 months until the eggs start hatching, the majority in May, and help the newborns to find their way back to the sea.
The sea turtles lay up to 100 eggs at a time which incubate in the warm sand; it’s temperature determines the gender of the baby turtles, with cooler sand producing more males and warmer sand producing more females.
The experience is indescribable! Watching these little babies move their flippers as soon as they come out of the eggs and struggle on the sand to make their way to the ocean even though they can’t see…it is incredible!
But how is this possible?
Scientists have discovered that sea turtles can distinguish between the magnetic fields they encounter in different locations along a migratory route and they use these fields as navigational markers to guide them…even as babies!
Saving the turtles…
Further down the coast in Machalilla National Park, a World Heritage Site in Manabí, there is a turtle conservation project created to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. Here staff and volunteers work with the community educating people about the importance of respecting the environment. They also measure, weigh, and tag the sea turtles and install transistors on their shells to monitor them.
Along with the turtle conservation taking place in the Galapagos, conservationists work all year round to better understand turtle population dynamics and how we can all help to save these beautiful creatures!
Don’t miss the turtle egg hatching season… you might be able to help preserve these beautiful and endangered species!