Thursday, July 19, 2012

Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor

The main reason I wanted to go to San Juan del Sur is because it is just an hour north of La Flor Wildlife Refuge whose mission is to protect the Paslama sea turtles (known as the Olive Ridley in English).
A group of 18 of us piled into this truck for the hour long ride to la Flor.

The entire trip cost 25$, 10$ of which is used for the entrance fee.

The biggest issue the sea turtles face is poachers.  Turtle eggs are thought to be an aphrodisiac and in a country that is so poor if people are willing to pay for eggs, others are willing to poach them. 
Just outside the reserve are eggs that were gathered by the refuge.  They spend their evenings waiting for turtles to arrive and lay their eggs so they can dig them up and keep them safe from poachers and natural predators like birds and crabs.  There is a sheet of paper in each sack with the day they were laid so they know approximately when they will hatch.  After they hatch the babies are released to the same beach (because females always return to the same beach that they were born to lay their own eggs).

White light distracts the turtles and may cause them to return to the ocean before thelaying their eggs so only red lights are permitted, and only from behind.
The above picture is a turtle laying an egg (the white blur in the center is the egg dropping into the hole).

You can see the turtle eggs underneath a female that is just finishing up laying her 60 or so eggs.  We watched her dig the hole (about a foot deep) with her back flippers. 

This picture is of a turtle burying her eggs, using her shell to forcefully compact the sand after filling the hole.  (She is facing about 1 o'clock.)

This is a Paslama returning to sea.  They are the smallest of the sea turtles, about a hundred pounds.  They make the coolest sound as they drag their bodies across the sand.

What a successful mission!  This is one of the coolest things I have seen while traveling (sorry you missed it Freddy!!).  I wish the pictures were better but I am just happy to have witnessed it.

1 comment:

  1. Again this post made me want to learn more so I googled images to better know what you were seeing. Amazingly interesting. I had no idea. "The Olive Ridley turtles come to the beach en masse, during so called arribadas in which thousands of turtles arrive at the same time to lay their eggs. This way, the hatchlings will swarm the beach in huge numbers and in doing so they increase their chance of survival."

    When we were in Charleston, the lights on the big bridge was turned off for the same reason, the sea turtles get confused and swim towards white lights. So wonderful that you are witnessing this occurance, first hand. Wonderfully intersting. Who knew?


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