Villa del Mar, Jalisco, Mexico.
El Cielito is a great place to stay in Villa del Mar, far from buzy Puerto Vallarta. Five or six comfortable bungalows are built at the edge of the cliff, offering an exceptional view on the Pacific. Here sunsets are marvelous. Pelicans and fregatabirds are neighbours to different species of seagulls, and a multitude of waterbirds that live on brakish waters a few meters away from the shore. On those beaches also come to lay their eggs, from immemorial times, the sea turtles.
Baby Sea Turtle
And since immemorial times, the natives have been catching them for food, tools, oil, medicine, etc. But today, added to increasing populations, ocean pollution and all other hazards our civilization built on our planet, turtles are finding it less possible, by the day, to reproduce, survive, and perpetrate the species. They are rapidly, and surely, disappearing.
There are many organisations that take care of saving the turtles on Costalegre beaches, including the University of Guadalajara. But on El Cielito beach,
Baby Sea Turtle
there is no big organisation. There is Casimiro Gaona Lopez. It was close to 6 pm, and America, at the hotel came to say if anyone wanted to see sea turtles and hear about the sea turtle protection project in Villa del Mar. Of course we did, and this is what we saw: two hours old little turtles in a box. About 90 of them, just born in Casimiro’s turtle eggs hatching spot on the beach.
Casimirio (blue shirt)
Casimiro used to help Rodrigo Castellanos, a biologist from the University of Guadalajara. But after the professor’s death, the job remained unattended on that beach, and quite naturally, Casimiro continued to attend to his little creatures. Day after day, any time he can put gas in his Quad, he would roam the beaches in search of turtles laying eggs, nests, even babies. When he finds the eggs, he takes them to a small fenced area he built on the beach, counts them, numbers them, and waits for them to hatch. Every day he also checks the state of his eggs and as soon as one nest starts hatching, he will release the newborn to the sea. At dusk,when the cormorans and other predators have stopped their quest for food, as baby turtles are their absolute “delicatesses”… Of course he will also call for tourists, when there are
some, to participate and, if they want, give a little contribution to help him continue his passion. Since more than 15 years at this task, Casimiro assembled an amzing amount of data and knowledge, expertize also, while releasing by himself, an average of 20,000 sea turtles to the ocean!
So that day Casimiro was releasing 90 baby turtles to the ocean. 90 wiggly little things, but perfect little turtles, ready to go. We were authorized to take the babies into our hands, which we did with emotion and marvel. Casimiro drew a line on the wet sand, facing the waves and told us that once we released them on that line, we are not to touch them ever after, no matter what seems to happen. Those babies know exactly how to handle themselves, mother nature created them perfectly, they will run towards the waves and the “relative” safety of water. And that’s what happened!
It was extremely moving to release those little creatures into the water. To think that, into the wilderness of the Pacific, there are a few turtles that I have touched and participated saving, fills me with wonder and pleasure.
Article 420 COD3 of Penal Mexican Federal Code : Condemns person who injured, killed or markets products from turtles sentenced for 1 to 9 years in prison. And to pay 300 to 3000 days salary minimum.
Casimiro’s Facebook page.