Salinas Grandes – Day 1 : baby turtles !

This morning, we put some stuff in a bag and left the other one at the hostel, and we went for a 2-day adventure at the beach!

It is probably our last stop at the sea, and definitely the last one on the Pacific!

So, we went through Léon’s streets and took a bus that left us at a fork on the panamerican highway.

 

From there, we were hoping to find another bus, but the girls waiting for it told us that it would be at least an hour, so we decided to walk a bit. That’s when we started to break our record for crazy transportation! First, an old man selling vegetables to houses along the road took us for a while. He was nice, and his horse-drawn cart was shaky, so it was fun. Then he let us on the side because he as changing roads, and a nice couple in a pick-up truck picked us up immediately for the end of the trip on the platform.

 

This way, we arrived way sooner than we anticipated in our deserted perfect beach spot. We went for a swim in the waves and lazed around, waiting for the main attraction at the end of the afternoon… It was really hard.

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wp_20171129_006_rAs the shadows got longer (around 4 PM) we went to the Day Resort at the end of the beach, that belonged to the nice people in the pick-up truck. We had a beer and then continued breaking our record by getting in the trailer of the quad, meant for 3-4 people or 6 surfboards (but not both simultaneously).

Like this, we got to the turtles Vivero to watch and help around 500 freshly hatched babies. Aren’t they cute as pies?

 

Here, the 4 species of marine turtles come to lay eggs (each with their own rhythm and season) and since these eggs are a luxury commodity, the nests are often looted, and the eggs sold to the black market. The trick is to buy the eggs to the poachers at the same price to help them hatch instead of making omelets! So, Scott here (and other cool people in other places) finds donations and subventions, and teaches poachers to handle eggs correctly as to not damage the embryos (they have to be transported in the 3 hours after being laid, or they die in transport).

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Once at the Vivero, they are re-buried but in bags, with the beach sand after being washed to avoid bacteria, insect eggs, crabs, etc. and after 45 to 55 days, they hatch and climb to the top of the bag! They are then put on the beach, imprint it so they know where to come back when they are about to make babies of their own, and shoo! go swim!

These days, the Vivero has around 29 000 eggs (if I remember correctly) and they have a 90% rate of hatching, against 60% in normal nests, and it’s high season for hatchlings! Once released, 1% of them will reach adulthood (life under the ocean is not that easy). Of course, the difficulty of this system is that, for now, with a few tourists everyday on the beach, the business plan is not stable, especially if you have to match the black-market price for eggs (which is not too appreciated by omelet-lovers…). So it’s only donations that allow the Vivero to function…

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