Sea Turtle Release in Todos Santos

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By Gari-Ellen Donohoe

The release of baby sea turtles (hatchlings) to the ocean is unquestionably one of the most emotional and magical activities you will ever experience here in Baja California Sur.

Just an hour drive from La Paz, on the four-lane to Cabo San Lucas, the town of Todos Santos is the perfect place to take the whole family to enjoy this once in lifetime event.

The kids and I, along with their classmates from Instituto Bilingüe Mexico in La Paz, visited the nesting grounds of Grupo Tortuguero de Todos Santos at the playa ¨La Maquina¨ on a Saturday afternoon in late September.

We arrived to Todos Santos and grabbed an ice-cream cone from downtown while we waited for everyone to arrive. Then just after 5:00 o’clock pm, (sunset we were told was the best time for hatchling releases) we slowly made our way through town and drove down dirt roads to playa ¨La Maquina.¨

After just a short walk from where we parked the car, we were hit with a salty, cool breeze and the most amazing view of the rolling, sandy beaches of ¨La Maquina.¨ The Pacific Ocean made the perfect backdrop.

Once out on the beach, we easily recognized the nursery camp and headed over to adopt our sea turtle hatchling to help with its release. Volunteers at the camp told us that all marine turtle species are listed as endangered in Mexico as well as internationally. There are seven species in the world, and six of those species are found off Mexican waters. Three species of marine sea turtles; the Leatherback, the Olive Ridley and the Black, nest on the beaches of Todos Santos.

After instructions were given, each child was handed half of a coconut shell. A hatchling was placed inside.   A horizontal line to the shore was drawn in the sand to indicate where we were all to stand. No one was to cross the line as to not step on just released baby turtles.

Then one by one, eager participants released the hatchlings onto the sand. The baby turtles slowly made their way out to the waters of the Pacific. Our group assisted in the release of over 100 hatchlings just before sunset. Kids, moms, dads and even grandparents were all left in awe at the sight.

Truth be told, only a few of the sea turtles that are released will survive and make it back to one day lay their eggs. That is why there are several nonprofit conservation groups along the coast of Baja California Sur that are dedicated to raising the percentage of survival by taking care of the eggs in nests. Once they hatch, the releases then help the hatchlings reach the ocean.

If you or a group are interested in releasing turtle hatchlings, you can contact Grupo Tortuguero Todos Santos on Facebook or call Señor Enedino at 612 115 2465. Grupo Tortuguero Todos Santos is a nonprofit group and will happily accept donations of 50 pesos per turtle to help them continue their work in the conservation and protection of sea turtles.

The turtles control the schedule so releases depend on what hatches in a day. Always call before hand to not be disappointed. Releases are at sunset.



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