Turtles of Chacahua

3 turtles head to the sea

Newly hatched turtles heading for the sea in Chacahua. Some days as many as 1500 baby turtles leave the hatchery and make their way to the ocean. On this day we watched roughly 700 turtles slip into the sea.

Esteban Paceco with a Leatherback (Laud) Turtle

Esteban Paceco (shown above) heads up the turtle conservation group in Chacahua. Currently Chacahua has the highest output of baby turtles among all the conservation areas in Jalisco, Guerrero and Oaxaca. A typical year yields 150,000 to 170,000 baby turtles from these wonderful and diligent care takers. It's no small task, this is a very hard working group that gets by on very little sleep. Most of the turtle conservation work is done from 11 PM to 8 AM.

Shirt full of turtles broken turtle shell

If it wasn't for caring conservationists the majority of the eggs would end up like this one on the right, poached by a predator. Instead, here's a shirt full of freshly hatched turtles that will head to the sea.

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs are rounded up each night. They are carefully extracted from beneath the surface of the sand, then bagged, tagged and moved to a secure location where they are safe from predators.

Turtle cuidadors digging holes

Here, workers are seen digging more holes for the eggs, which are carefully lowered into the holes. Once a batch is complete, sand is used to cover the eggs. On the surface above the hole, a round piece of mesh keeps the turtles from escaping once they hatch. This gives the conservation workers time to count and document the hatchlings before guiding them into the sea. Several types of turtles are protected here, and detailed records of types and quantities of eggs and hatchings are diligently kept.

Baby turtle in fingers

This turtle had only been out of its shell for about a half hour. He was counted and set free to enter the sea.

Turtle workers setting the newly hatched tortugas to the sea

Conservation workers deposit the baby turtles at the edge of the sea. The baby turtles make their way to the water and start their new journey.