Mexico

Protected Giant Turtles


Dear Reader,

Few days ago I found a tiny protection Centre for giant turtles in Manzanillo. The Cuyutlan Centre.

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They do a remarkable job at protecting these animals,  including environmental education and the chance to help them release baby turtles once the hatch.
However, challenges make the protection task very difficult to succeed. Not only turtles are animals that take forever to mate and reproduce, their eggs take 6 months to hatch and they have to survive completely on their own since the mother once they put the eggs simply leave them.

Olive ridleys get their name from the coloring of their heart-shaped shell, which starts out gray but becomes olive green once the turtles are adults.

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These turtles are solitary, preferring the open ocean. They migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles every year, and come together as a group only once a year for the arribada, when females return to the beaches where they hatched and lumber onshore, sometimes in the thousands, to nest.

Olive ridleys, during nesting, use the wind and the tide to help them reach the beach. Females lay about a hundred eggs, but may nest up to three times a year. The nesting season is from June to December.

The olive ridley is mostly carnivorous, feeding on such creatures as jellyfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp. They will occasionally eat algae and seaweed as well. Hatchlings, most of which perish before reaching the ocean, are preyed on by crabs, raccoons, pigs, snakes, and birds, among others. Adults are often taken by sharks and humans… it is believed that eating their eggs and meat is a sort of aphrodisiac delicacy, hence the illegal consumption of these animals.

Though the olive ridley is widely considered the most abundant of the marine turtles, by all estimates, it is in trouble. Rough estimates put the worldwide population of nesting females at about 800,000, but its numbers, particularly in the western Atlantic, have declined precipitously so it has been declared as endangered and all other populations as threatened.

Many governments have protections for olive ridleys, but still, eggs are taken and nesting females are slaughtered for their meat and skin. Fishing nets also take a large toll, frequently snagging and drowning these turtles.

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