Friday, January 30, 2015

Travel Journal: Puerto Vallarta Mexico Jan 2015: Baby Golfinas!

A travel journal should start at the beginning and carry on through to the end of the adventure, right?
Well, our vacation in Puerto Vallarta was lovely, full of relaxing days where we ate, slept, swam and read.
Such a journal would be quite dull to read so I decided to put the most interesting part of our vacation first, even though that part actually happened on the very last night of our time away.
We had checked out of the huge resort where we had stayed for two weeks and had checked into a much smaller property near the Puerto Vallarta airport, in order to take advantage of a direct flight offered the next day.
The Marriott property was no fact we had what was probably our most comfortable day and night there of our entire trip.
We checked in around 11 am, and Bernie went to play some golf at an old course right next to the property.
He regretted that I didn't go with him as it turned out the old golf course had lots of interesting wild life, including many rather large crocodiles!
Oh my!
I just kicked back at the resort, switching between lounging around the pool and swimming in the ocean until around 6 when I thought Bernie might be returning from his golf game.
As I swung through the outdoor lobby I noticed this sign.
Baby turtles being released on the beach at 6:30?
How cool!
I figured they maybe had six, seven, maybe a dozen turtles that for some reason had been rescued or something.
Sounded like a great photo op to me. 

I hadn't known the Marriott hotel had a turtle egg rescue/protection program.
I did know that Marriott is a very "green" organization and so I wasn't too surprised that they would be involved in such a project.
I raced up to our room to change out of my bathing suit, shower up and head back out towards the beach lickity split.
I ran into Bernie on my way through the lobby.
I told him about the turtles being released in about 10 minutes.
He hurried off to drop off his golf bag in our room and caught up with me exactly as the turtles arrived.

Two huge buckets were being carried down the walkway to the beach.

I wondered if the older woman was the mother of the younger girls but didn't ask.
I did manage to sneak a peek into one of the buckets:

Oh my goodness!

The women told me that there were about 300 baby Golfina turtles that had hatched just this morning in their hotel's turtle hatchery building.
I had no idea that they had an entire building dedicated to turtles but they do.

About ten other guests crowded with us around the buckets.

The Turtle Wallah (that's what I called her...Wallah being the Indian word for a person in charge of some job) set about drawing two parallel lines in the sand with her heavy stick.
I have no idea what criteria she used to decide where the lines should be drawn but she explained that we had to stay behind the line farthest away from the water.

Then she reached in the bucket and pulled out a couple of baby turtles.
She instructed us to rub a layer of wet sand all over our hands...

...and then she handed each of us a turtle!

 I was pretty excited and nervous so my camera focus left a little to be desired.
 Still....look at that little face!!!
The jewel like eyes looked at me with a curious glance, all the while paddling its flippers purposefully.

Only about six hours old.
Perfectly formed and ready to begin its life at sea.

Love the expression on these two.

Then the rest of the turtles were gently dumped onto the wet sand.

And just like a group of human babies, some were quick to race off while others seemed set on a slower pace.

I loved the pattern that was left behind as a record of their journey's start.

They didn't all immediately aim for the water.

And those that did aim for the water didn't necessarily head there straight on.

 Oh it was tempting to help the slow ones.
We all stood back and watched the drama unfold.

There were those who seemed to like to clump up.

While others forged on alone.

And when a wave rolled in the forerunners were swiftly washed out to sea.

When a bigger wave would break I imagined the whirl and swirl that the small thing endured.
I had plunged through bigger waves just hours earlier and I knew the waves packed a punch and there were plenty of rocks beneath the breakers.

 We were told that one reason why hotel guests were invited to witness the turtle releases was because our presences deterred the shore birds from swooping in for a turtle dinner.

Just scroll through....

I like this shot....

The sun was setting rapidly.
The loss of light meant getting detailed shots would be compromised as we were told not to use flash photography.
I had first been shooting with my 60mm lens which offers the clearest detail, then I switched to my zoom lens that allowed me to follow the turtles closely while keeping my distance.

The Turtle Wallah stepped carefully among the babies, occasionally picking one up but generally just watching.


A rude baptism.

Once the sunset colors started reflecting on the wet sand I became quite giddy.

(Insert small boy sound effect of dune buggies: brrrruuuummmm....)

Look how closely the turtles match the color of the sand.
And when their shells are dry when they are on dry sand they match that color sand, and while wet on wet sand they match there too.

This shot makes me smile.
I can just imagine how gentle those foamy bubbles must feel as a first experience in the ocean.

 Sunset colors on turtle shells.
"Oh hi."

"Um, can you tell me if I am heading the right way to get to the ocean?"

Bernie did some girl watching...watching me that is.

Another favorite shot....knowing those are baby turtles and not rocks.

Helping out a flipped over one.

The water surged in from several angles.
I wondered if what the turtles used to decide where to head.
Was it the sound of the water, or vibration, the sun or ???

Fewer and fewer turtles remained on the shore as the sun sank into the water.
(I liked this shot because the circle of the sun is seen on the wet sand.)

Once there were just a few left we could get close to the babies again without fear of stepping on by accident.
I could finally get good close up shots again.

And I did a little boy watching too...

That pebble is a turtle nearly buried in sand.

Then there was one...
And then there were none.
All were swimming somewhere out at sea.
As we left the beach we wished them well, and said a silent prayer for their future.