Ayotlcalli is not only the “house of turtles” but also (currently) the home of three “camp dogs” – Blackie, Fox, and Bella as well as the inside dog White Lily. If you have been to a release, you are sure to have met these three sweet “camp” pups. They defend our hatchery, defend the area when we are releasing baby turtles, and also come on patrol with us. They are hard workers, for sure.
And, there are many more that have been with the camp on their way to forever homes, most recently Diego, Yoyo, and Black Lillie (all adopted by volunteers at the camp!).
Early this morning as our patrol volunteers returned to camp just as the sun was rising, they found that our camp dog count had increased by three. Unfortunately, dumping dogs is not unusual in the area and there are always some number of stray dogs living on this beach. When the numbers of stray dogs grow, the number of mama turtles attacked on the beach by dogs grows as well. So our goal is twofold; help these sweet puppies and protect our sea turtle population.
Now, we love dogs and would keep them all if we could but, unfortunately we can’t. Well, maybe one…they are so cute!
So this morning, we’re asking for our great network of supporters to help us find these adorable cuties their own forever homes. We’ll take them to the vet today for a check up, they’ll all get a good bath, and lots of food, water, and love while they are with us.
If you can help us find one, two, or all three of these adorable pups find permanent homes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you want to help us out with a donation to contribute toward some of cost of their care, we would certainly appreciate that too!
Everyone at the camp was excited when the first hatchlings of one of our Leatherback (Laúd) nests emerged recently.
Over the course of the next several days, many more babies emerged from the nest and were released to the ocean. We even had an adopter of a later leatherback nest (and longtime friend of Ayotlcalli) participate in one of these releases.
Due to a decline in the population of male Leatherbacks, these nests typically have many unfertilized eggs, leading to low hatch rates compared to our Olive Ridley (Golfina) and Black Sea Turtle (Prieta) nests. However this nest did very well, exceeding our expectations.
We would like thank the adopters of this December 16 nest for their support – so thanks to Isabella & Arden. And thanks to all our Members this season!
If you would like to become an adopter, please visit our adopt-a-nest page.
The photo gallery below follows this nest from the day we found and relocated the nest through the release of hatchlings.
First a warning that this post contains some graphic photos.
So last night Felipe, who you all know, went out on patrol with Pablo and Steven. Pablo is a young volunteer who is still in school and comes every Saturday to help out. Steven is an awesome drop in volunteer who has been with us just over a week. He dropped in (literally) from the sky in his own airplane at exactly the moment we really needed him.
These three had quite an eventful night in more than one way.
Shortly after leaving on patrol, they came upon a mama Golfina turtle who had been attacked by a pack of dogs. She had already laid her eggs when she was attacked. She was in bad shape, but still alive and trying to crawl when they found her. They brought her back to camp, bandaged her and put her in a safe place till morning when we could call the veterinarian who helps us in these cases. Then back to her nest of eggs to save them from the pack of dogs.
Since mama Golfina was safely in camp, and there was no more they could do for her, Steven stayed behind to keep watch and Felipe and Pablo continued with their beach patrol.
Mama Golfina attacked by dogs
Mama Golfina attacked by dogs
Mama Golfina attacked by dogs
Mama Golfina resting at camp
Mama Golfina bandages
A little further down the beach….
They found a LEATHERBACK / LAÚD nest!!!
Tracks in the sand
Leatherback egg and tracks
Eggs being recovered from nest
This is only 5th of the season, so it is very exciting news for us!
With Felipe’s experience and expertise, he could tell that poachers had been at the nest looking for her eggs. Thankfully, they either gave up or were chased away when our crew approached.
Whatever the reason, we are so relieved that the poachers did not find them. Our guys found the eggs, which is no easy task since they are about 1 meter deep! They recovered 66 viable eggs, which are now safely snuggled in our hatchery.
Now the sad news…upon their return to camp, we had some very bad news for them.
Even though they got the dogs away from her, bandaged her, and covered her with wet towels to keep her hydrated, she sadly did not make it. The damage done was just too bad. This is our first known dog attack this season. After having many last season, we had not had any this season.
This night highlights two of the reasons that we feel the need to be out patrolling the beach every night. Poaching of eggs and mama turtles by both people and dogs are both a big problem here. So, we keep patrolling hoping (knowing?) that we are chasing some of them off and keeping some our turtles safe!
Won’t you consider helping us continue to do this?
One way you can help is by adopting this new Leatherback/Laud nest. Not only does it help us, but it is great fun for you. You will see pictures from last night through the babies being release into the sea, and will get updates along the way!
Or become a Sustaining Member which provides us with a reliable donation stream through the year for as little as $5/month.
Anything you can do to help us help the turtles is greatly appreciated.
Yesterday afternoon we had a special guest presenter, Payaso Pulguita Del Perro Pinto (clown named “little flea on the spotted dog”), for a special group from the kindergarten in Infonavit del Hujal, a neighborhood in Zihautanejo.
All of the children, their teacher, and parents had a wonderful time. As always, we took the opportunity to slip in some education alongside the fun of releasing the hatchlings.
Hatchlings making their way to the ocean
Watching the release hatchlings
Hatchlings making their way to the ocean
Kinder group from Infonavit del Hujal
Releasing the hatchlings
A young guest from the Infonavit del Hujal Kinder
A mom and daughter from the Infonavit del Hujal Kinder
Last week was another busy one here at the Campamento, with releases most days – all of which were special in their own way. But we had a very special guest on Sunday evening!
Our friend and supporter Mary Ann adopted a nest earlier this month as a birthday present for her son. Before presenting the gift, she congratulated him on his new ‘fatherhood’ and soon to be 113 new ‘children’! We can’t help but wonder what he must have thought was coming next!
Chris’s daughter Jenny was visiting her grandmother in Ixtapa last week, so just had to come and visit her ‘siblings’. She will have a lot of big sister responsibilities, but we think she will do just fine!
Fun was had by all! We think we would be right to say that this family is very happy to have adopted into ours!
In addition to a certificate showing Chris as the adopter of a nest, Mary Ann and Chris received pictures and a report of the nest collection, shown below.
They will also receive updates about the nest and more pictures when the hatchlings emerge.
And, just think, it is so very easy to adopt a nest of your very own!
Here are some pictures of the nest rescue and rebury in our corral. These were sent to the adoptive family the day the nest was recovered.
Come join us for our second benefit concert of the season. For this event, we will have the wonderful Nora Murillo performing in a beautiful setting. You will be swept away by her range and control as well as the clear beauty and passion of her voice.
Raul Ramirez is a volunteer with Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli, participating in night patrols, sometimes giving our educational presentation before releases, and, most importantly, working at our summer camp, Los Guerreros del Arcoiris (Warriors of the Rainbow) to educate our local children. Raul’s primary job in our area is working with the Whales of Guerrero project which also entails a large educational component so he has become very influential figure with the children in our local communities.
Raul grew up in the industrial city of Salamanca, Guanajuato (approximate population 270,000), home of the largest Pemex refinery in Mexico. When he was young, Raul dreamed of joining the Navy and becoming a pilot but the need for prescription glasses changed those plans before he had the chance. In hindsight, he says that’s probably a good thing as he probably wouldn’t have been a good fit in the highly disciplined and regimented life of the military.
Following high school, Raul applied for entrance to Universidad del Mar (University of the Sea) in Oaxaca where he hoped to study Marine Biology. Before he was even sure he had been accepted, he moved there to prepare for his university studies. Fortunately he was accepted and later completed all of the course work for his degree.
After completing his university studies, Raul helped found an NGO in Oaxaca, with some former classmates and a professor, that focused on the study of the local dolphin population. While he really enjoyed that work, he wanted an opportunity to mix scientific study with an educational element in his work.
Raul learned of the Whales of Guerrero project that studies humpback whales in the waters off of Playa Larga, Playa Blanca, and Barra de Potosí and moved north. He is now in his second season with Whales of Guerrero and also with us at Ayotlcalli.
Beyond teaching the children in our communities through his work with Ayotlcalli’s camp and Whales of Guerrero’s educational outreach, Raul is a model to the young people by the way he lives and honors the environment. Raul is known for carrying an old wine bottle covered in burlap as his water bottle in favor of single use bottle or even a manufactured reusable bottle. He’s also known for doing his own dishes if he visits a friend’s home to make sure the absolute minimum amount of water is used. He’s an inspiration to the kids and really lives a life of total environmental consciousness.
When he was asked what his favorite thing was about working at Ayotlcalli’s summer camp, Raul said it was watching Damaris with the kids. He said that watching her made him a better teacher.
Because of all of these personal attributes and his important role in our summer camp, Damaris invited Raul to join her at the 2019 International Sea Turtle symposium next month in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Raul will have an opportunity to network with other marine life professionals and to expand his knowledge of the sea turtle world.
Raul is a special person, helping to mold future leaders, and we’re excited that he has this unique opportunity. But, of course, it costs money. If you able, we’re asking for contributions to help defray some of the expense of his trip. Our goal is to raise US$500 by the start of the symposium on February 2. If you can help us get Raul to South Carolina, please donate online at any amount you are able.
We are excited and proud to share the news that Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli will be making an oral presentation at the Annual Symposium of International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS) in Charleston, SC! We submitted an abstract in the Education, Outreach, and Advocacy category and were selected to present at symposium in early February. In fact, this is the third time Ayotlcalli has been selected to present at the conference with past presentations in Lima, Peru in 2016 and Las Vegas, NV USA in 2017.
In our last blog post, we wrote about our summer camp program which seeks to educate children in our local communities about the importance of good environmental stewardship, science, nutrition, and other topics that prepare them to be future leaders.
At the upcoming symposium, Damaris’ presentation is about our Rainbow Warriors(Los Guerreros del Arcoiris) program. In the introduction of the presentation abstract submitted to ISTS, Damaris writes:
Our mission has been to educate the population in regards to the protection and conservation of three species of marine turtles that nest in this beautiful area; Olive Ridley (Golfina), Black Sea Turtle (Prieta), and Leatherback (Laúd).
After spending much time and effort trying to raise awareness with adults (locals and visitors), we have realized that in the long term, children are the key to making the required changes that will reverse the imminent extinction of these marine turtles.
Damaris’ husband Gene and Raul Ramirez will be traveling with Damaris to South Carolina. Raul completed his studies in marine biology at Universidad del Mar (University of the Sea) in Oaxaca before moving to this area to work with the Whales of Guerrero project. A significant part of his work with that project involves educating the children of Barra de Potosí which led him to become involved with Ayotlcalli’s camp and to volunteer with us throughout the season. We are excited that Raul will have the opportunity to accompany Damaris to the symposium where he will network and attend workshops that will help expand his knowledge.
The Mission of the International Sea Turtle Society is to promote understanding, appreciation, and value of sea turtles and their habitats through the exchange and sharing of information, techniques, ideas, and inspiration that will promote actions from local to global levels, for the advancement of sea turtle biology and conservation.
ISTS convenes a uniquely important annual symposium that brings people together from all around the world (more than 1,000 people from approximately 80 countries), all dedicated to the research and conservation of sea turtles. Since 1981 this community of sea turtle biologists, conservationists, educators and advocates has gathered to share knowledge, build capacity, network and collaborate and ultimately, to leverage conservation.
The background of participants has also diversified to incorporate government officials, students, the general public, activists, and advocacy groups, biologists, researchers, veterinarians, policy-makers, and more, to form an ever-increasing number of people with a variety of ideas and the common goal of ensuring the survival of these endangered animals.
Symposium goers have been able to promote their research network with others working in their field, and train future sea turtle biologists and conservationists. In the past decade. the Symposium focus has broadened to include social science, education, and grassroots conservation efforts.
Pollution rates are rising and the climate is changing, drastically, altering the world we live in. The environmental crisis we face makes it critically important for our children to learn about nature and how we can make changes in our lives can make a difference in protecting and saving it. It’s not too late. Yet.
We believe that by giving our youth the opportunity to learn about how our communities and nature can live in balance will make them more environmentally conscious and aware of how the decisions they make will impact nature. If they are not informed and educated about how man’s behavior affects the environment, how will they protect it in the future?
Beyond raising their environmental awareness, we believe the young people in our communities will become more civically engaged with their local communities as they get older. That engagement will enable them to work to improve the sustainability of their communities, using what they have learned about the environment.
We, at Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli, believe so strongly in the importance of educating the children in our communities that we conduct a two week summer camp each year that focuses on these core beliefs. Our camp teaches about local nature including our birds, fish, whales, and – of course – sea turtles! We go beyond those themes to also educate the kids about the importance of nutrition and how the choices they make in what they consume affects their health and the environment. We have activities to get the kids exercising and working to clean up the beaches. There are art activities and scientific experiments. For some of these activities we partner with local organizations like our friends at Whales of Guerrero who focus on our humpback whale population, and also educating the children in our community.
When camp concludes and the children return to their communities, they are truly Los Guerreros del Arcoiris…Warriors of the Rainbow. Bringing their new found knowledge and enthusiasm to their homes and communities. Making a difference. Becoming the leaders of the future.
In later posts, we will be sharing more information about the camp and opportunities to help financially. You can also check our website for details.
I am a Laúd (Leatherback) mama turtle, which means I am at least (about) 18 years old but age doesn’t matter unless you are cheese or wine so, like many of us women, I’m not going to share mine!
I love coming back to Playa Blanca – the beach where I was born – to lay my eggs so that my hatchlings can be born in the same gorgeous place where I first emerged from the sand ‘some’ years ago. In fact, I just returned on Friday night to bury a new nest with 90 of my precious future babies.
Wow, Playa Blanca sure has changed a lot (thanks to you humans!) since the day I first crawled my way out of my cozy nest but I am lucky that the kind people at Ayotlcalli are here to help make sure my babies are safe in this dangerous new world.
But they need your help. Won’t you please consider adopting my babies or the nest of one of my sister Golfina’s or Prieta’s, who are great too. Of course I think I’m the greatest, and I know I’m the biggest! There are only a precious few of us Laúds left, so I think this is a special opportunity for some generous and lucky people.
Now, I know I was camera shy on Friday night so you won’t see any photos of me, but if you adopt my nest you will see lots of photos of the volunteers who found my tracks, and the relocation of my eggs from the nest I carefully dug. In about 60 days or so, the fine volunteers at Ayotlcalli will share pictures with you of my babies making their way to the ocean for the very first time. You’ll even receive a certificate honoring you as the adopter of my nest.
You and I will be so proud that day for our teamwork in ensuring our babies’ safety and survival so that our girls can also return to Playa Blanca when they are my age!