Sea Turtles and the Tropics: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Revisited

There you are standing on a beach barefoot with the cool sand between your toes. Its late in the night and the only light is coming from the bright moon up above. Everything is quiet except for the low rumble of the waves rolling onto the beach. For a split second you think “this is crazy” and you are standing out here in the middle of the night for nothing. Then it happens.

Out of the surf you see a large shadow emerge and watch as this massive creature hurls itself onto the dry land. With a great struggle, it pushes itself forward farther onto the dry land. If you didn’t know any better, seeing this would make you think there was something wrong with this creature. All you can do is stand there in awe as this huge turtle digs and scrapes the sand huffing with exhaustion in order to create a hole deep enough to deposit her precious cargo. Once completed, she covers the eggs and heads back to the ocean, never to see her offspring again but only to return next year and repeat the cycle.

This was one of my first experiences when I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the Sea Turtles and the Tropics program. As I stood there watching this miracle of life, tears ran down my face and I had a profound appreciation for nature. To think in just 60 days this beach where I am standing will be overrun by thousands of sea turtles starting their own journey to one day return to this very beach.

Luckily we did not have to wait the 60 days. The next day we went to work at one of the local hatcheries and help them care for baby sea turtles that were no bigger than my palm, helpless and fragile. What a journey! And we were there from the beginning to end as we had our own journey filled with excitement, admiration, and wonder. I will never forget my experience in Mexico and to this day whenever I see a sea turtle, I feel this warmth within and wonder if it was one of the ones that stole my heart on that trip.