Last night on patrol two of our volunteers came upon a situation that, while infrequent, we think bears reporting.
It started out as a good thing. They saw a set of tracks in the sand letting them know that a nesting female had passed this way. This is great news, since it is the end of the season and we don’t find nests every night. They quickly realized that there was only one set of tracks, which told them she had not yet returned to the sea. Double good news, they thought. We get to see her, check her for tags and/or tag her, and watch her return safely to the sea. There is nothing more special on a night with a bright moon like last night than to watch her as she floats back into the waves.
They followed the tracks up the beach but….NO TURTLE! What they did find were human footprints! First walking along beside the turtle and converging closer to her. Then her tracks stopped and it was just the human footprints going over the dune, side by side like they were carrying something.
This poor girl! All she wanted to do was to lay her nest, and just think of the terror she experienced at the hands of these cruel humans. Unfortunately, we have to assume that she is now deceased.
At this point, maybe you are asking ‘Why?’ Why would someone do this? For what purpose? Well, just like the many egg poachers on our beach (126 nests poached this season, including one last night), the answer is usually money.
It is an unfortunate reality here that turtle meat and turtle eggs can be sold to those who think there is something mystical or medicinal about them. Just to be clear – there isn’t. Neither the meat nor the eggs have anything medicinal about them.
They are NOT an aphrodisiac, they will NOT make you strong, they will NOT make you more manly, they will NOT cure ANY illness.
Maybe now you are asking yourself ‘Why?’ Why are we sharing this horrible story with our friends and supporters? Well, we are sharing for a few reasons:
- Maybe someone saw something or heard something that can lead to the apprehension of the people who committed this crime (YES, it is a crime!)
- To raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers faced by our female sea turtles when they come on the beach to nest.
- To raise awareness and educate the public about the difficulties we face trying to protect these fine ladies.
- To help spread the word that there is nothing magical or medicinal about consuming sea turtles or the eggs.
- And finally, to let you know what to do if you if you are ever fortunate enough to encounter a live adult or baby turtle:
- Stay with him or her till they make it safely to the sea. If there is a good human nearby, no one will bother them. Humans with bad intentions will stay away in fear of being reported. Dogs and other predators will stay away too!
- Don’t touch them with your bare hands, as the oils on our skin are dangerous to them.
- Let them get to the sea of their own accord, unless it is not possible.
- If they are injured or appear ill call someone. Here in Playa Larga, Playa Blanca or Barra de Potosi, that would be us. There are organizations like ours on many beaches that can help.
Thank you to all of our supporters for being informed and helping us with our mission. We could not do this without you!