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Celebrating the Turtle Season in Baja California Sur

In Baja Sur we don’t have the regular seasons, but we do have our own special seasons, which we eagerly expect every year. From late August until early December we are all looking forward to turtle season, when Baja’s turtles come home to lay their eggs and when we get the chance to participate in one of greatest pleasures: the release of turtle hatchlings to the ocean. And from December to the end of March we are excited about our whale season. Baja’s clorful nature and wildlife offers many possibilities to experience the pure life and to become part of some of the most beautiful things in life. Watching the whales breeding in Baja warm waters, swimming with the dolphins, or releasing baby turtles into the ocean are just some of our daily pleasures.

The coast along the Baja California peninsula and the sea of Cortez is home to five of the seven species of the world’s sea turtles; Hawksbill (Tortuga Carey), Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama, Amarilla o Cabezona), Leatherback(Tortuga Laúd), Green Turtle (also Black Turtle, Tortuga Prieta, Negra o Verde) and most abundant of all the species of sea turtle, Olive Ridley(Tortuga Golfina). All of them are endangered and four are ecologically extinct. Non profit organization ASUPMATOMA (The Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja) is one of the companies formed to address the main threats to turtles survival. Often you can see their members on the beaches of Baja Sur oranizing a release and short educational seminar for children and by-passers who participate at the release of baby turtles.

While releases of baby turtles are still quite often, the releases today are much rarer than they used to be. Poaching, incidental captures in fishermen nets, collection of eggs and meet for consumption, coastal development and ocean pollution are some of the most threatening factors to turtle extinction. That’s why we mustn’t drive on the beaches, as we might run over turtle eggs! Sea turtles mature very slowly and live very long lives. They need to reach 20 to 30 years of age before they are sexually mature and able to reproduce, and most sea turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay their eggs.