A Whole Family of Adopters!

Well, this is a first for us.  A family of supporters each want their very own nest!

Robert & Kathern

A couple from Montana that live here part time and support the camp full time contacted us recently to talk about a very special adoption.

First the back story!

Kathern and her husband Robert spend their winters in Playa Blanca in order to escape the snow and cold of their ranch up north.  Given the long Montana winters, they escape just some, not all, of the cold snowy weather, often leaving snow in the early winter and returning to the final snows of spring!

They have been coming to Playa Blanca since before the Turtle Camp was founded.  Soon after the camp began, Kathern visited and become hooked.  She is what we would call an unofficial volunteer.  Even though she is not on our volunteer list, she is always on the lookout for turtles and turtle tracks.

Kathern with her rescued nest

She has often called us to report tracks leading to a nest or turtles on the beach along one of her lengthy walks.  In one case, she helped our patrol volunteer locate and rescue the eggs of a nest she had seen.  In another case she gathered up neighbors to surround a group of about 75 baby turtles that were crawling to the sea right in front of the beachfront community where she and Robert live.  They worked together to keep the babies safe and even leveled out some of the sand in front of the little crawlers to make the long trek little bit easier.

Another one of her unofficial volunteer activities is beach cleanup.  Walking on the beach daily for exercise, Kathern will come back with bags full of trash and recyclable items, even alternating direction daily for maximum effect.  This does so much to protect the turtles’ habitat, and we are so fortunate to have Kathern and several other like-minded and dedicated folks who help keep our beaches clean.

Now about the family!

Some years ago, Kathern and Robert’s 3 grown children decided that instead of exchanging Christmas presents among themselves and their children, they would pool the money and find a charity where they could donate their ‘Christmas Presents’.    In the past, they have helped one of our local schools here.  A visit to the school by the grandchildren really impressed upon them how fortunate they are.

Except for one of their grandchildren, everyone in the family was here to celebrate a milestone birthday of Robert’s and one of the activities they participate in while here, was…a baby turtle release!  They have seen the work we do first-hand, and this year they selected us to receive their ‘Christmas Present’.  We all thought it would be great fun to put the donation towards adopted nests for the whole family!  Each of the four adult couples and every one of the eight grandchildren will be the proud parent of their own baby turtle nest!

We were very touched to hear Kathern tell us a story about one grandson.  Two years ago, he was given a small amount of spending money to buy Christmas gifts for his two siblings. His parents suggested that he use this money for someone less fortunate.  So he asked his grandmother if she could buy some soccer balls for the local school children instead.  You can really see how this dedication to helping others has passed from generation to generation in the Evans family!

Since it is the end of the season and we will probably not have a nest for everyone before it ends, we decided together with Kathern and Robert to wait until the beginning of next season.  This way everyone will have their nests found within a short time of one another.  Do we see a game for the children – whose nest will hatch first?  Sorry to say, you will all have to wait till July or August for pictures of their nests, so stay tuned!

We will be sure to write an update blog as their family adoptions go from nest collection to hatchling release.


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Campamento Perros +3 (en español)

Ayotlcalli no es solamente “La Casa de la Tortuga”, sino que también es la casa de tres perros: Blacky, Fox y Bella, aparte de Lily, una perrita que vive dentro. Si usted ha asistido a una liberación, seguro que conoce a éstas dulces mascotas del campamento. Ellos protegen el corral, el área de liberación y por las noches nos acompañan en nuestro patrullaje. De verdad que trabajan muy duro. Muchos otros caninos han estado en el campamento mientras encontraban un hogar para el resto de sus vidas, tal es el caso de Diego, Yoyo, Lilie y otros, quienes han sido adoptados por voluntarios del mismo campamento.
Esta mañana temprano, mientras los voluntarios regresaban de su recorrido, se encontraron con que teníamos tres cachorros más. Desafortunadamente, abandonar a las mascotas es muy común en ésta área y siempre hay varios de ellos viviendo en la playa. Cuando el número de perros callejeros aumenta, también aumenta el numero de ataques a las tortugas que salen a desovar. Nuestra meta es doble: ayudar a estos perritos y proteger a la población de tortugas marinas.

Nosotros amamos a los perros y quisiéramos quedarnos con todos, pero desgraciadamente no podemos..(bueno, aunque sea uno)…¡son tan lindos!

Esta mañana pedimos a nuestros patrocinadores que nos ayuden a encontrar un hogar permanente para estos adorables cachorros. Los llevaremos hoy al veterinario para que los revisen. Les daremos un buen baño, bastante comida, agua y mucho amor mientras estén con nosotros.

Si usted puede ayudarnos a encontrar un hogar permanente para uno, dos o a los tres, enviénos un correo electrónico a info.ayotlcalli.com, o si puede contribuir con una donación para cubrir los costos de su cuidado y alimentación, también lo agradecemos.

 


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*** Warning *** Awesome Pictures!

Happy weekend everyone!

It seems like the last couple of posts have not been happy ones, so it is time to switch that up with a happy post.

Close up and personal!

Last night we had another special release of an adopted nest!  This nest was a big one – 123 eggs.  92 of the hatchlings made their journey to the sea last night, and likely some more will tonight!

Some of you have asked about the nests with the hearts painted on the water bottles surrounding them and learned that these nests have been adopted.  We thought it would be fun to share how this process works and what you would receive as an adoptive parent of a nest.

First, as the adoptive parent you would receive pictures from the night the nest was rescued and relocated, along with information like species and number of eggs.  In the case where mama turtle was present, you would receive pictures of her as well.

Along with these pictures, you receive a certificate of adoption in your name, or in the name of the recipient if you give the adoption as a gift.  Adopted nests make great birthday presents..hint-hint.

Then when ‘your’ babies are born, we take pictures and/or video of them as they first hatch.

Finally,  more pictures and/or video of them being released and crawling to the sea.

Make sure to watch this video all the way to the end.  It is worth the 43 seconds, we promise!

If this sounds like fun to you (we sure think it is!), won’t you consider adopting a nest?


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Our Sad Reality…and a plea for help. **** WARNING – Graphic Photos ****

Hello again.  We are sad to be writing with more bad news so soon!  This is a story about another night on patrol.

So when we leave on patrol in the wee morning hours, the first decision is ‘Which way do we turn?”  Left toward Barra de Potosí or right toward Playa Larga.  Some of us alternate, some always start with the same direction, some of us go on a hunch or a feeling.  My partner and I go by hunch, the beach usually calls in one direction or the other.

Last night it called us in both directions.  We were torn, but decided to turn left toward the scene of the kidnapping of Senora Tortuga 2 nights ago.  We didn’t get very far and we saw some dogs run off down by the ocean.  Then we saw a long set of tracks ending where the dogs were.  They had begun digging up the nest, but apparently we got there just in time.  There were about a dozen broken eggs in and around the nest, but the remainder of the nest was intact with 74 eggs that we rescued.  Yay for us!  We went the right way.

The rest of the way to Barra de Potosi and back was fairly uneventful.  There were two turtles who crawled around on the beach, but did not lay eggs.  One started to nest in a few places, but then moved on.  We could see many dog paw prints so we figured the dogs scared her off.

Note one set of turtle tracks at the top of the frame. Her tracks are barely visible under the dog prints at the bottom of the frame.

We moved on to Playa Larga and after a short time saw a set of tracks, which we followed all the way up to the dune, which is a pretty long way on that end of our beach.  We got there, and followed the tracks to, again, several places where she started to dig.  Then we saw her tracks going back toward the water, and OH NO!  There were TONS of dog prints covering her tracks.  We could tell they were behind her, beside her, all around her as she tried to escape.  So we followed the trail of dog prints.  When we got closer to the shore, we could see what we most feared.  The dogs had killed her.  Her tail was mostly gone, the back of her shell partially broken off, her back end torn apart, and her flippers, neck and face bitten.  They savaged her so badly that bloody eggs from inside her were laying on the beach around her.

Now we know why we were being pulled in both directions…we saved a nest of eggs, but lost a mama turtle.

After documenting and measuring the poor girl, we did what we had to do and continued on patrol.  We found one more set of tracks where dogs had chased the turtle off.  These dogs came out to greet us as we explored.  One had a collar and they appeared to be well fed.  So while they chased her off, thankfully, they were not looking for food.

After our last blog post about the kidnapping two days ago, someone commented that we “should have patrols on rotation day and night”.  Wouldn’t we love to have the resources to do that???  In reality the night time is what we need covered, since that is when our ladies come out to nest.  Ideally, we would like to have two patrols on each night – one going south, the other going north, each on their own ATV.  With two patrols, we would be able to have them patrol each side of the beach not once, but twice (or more in peak season). This would make us much more likely to chase off predators – human and canine.

Why don’t we just that, then?  Well, limitation of resources is the only answer.  Running a patrol takes two precious resources, which we do not have an abundance of…money for ATV gas and maintenance(this environment sure is hard on a vehicle!), and volunteers to drive those ATV’s!

If you agree that this seems like a good idea, will you please consider donating to support this effort?

 

 

Or maybe you would consider joining our great group of patrol volunteers.  If you have questions about that, please email info@ayotlcalli.org

Thank you again for reading, and for supporting our cause!


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KIDNAPPED!!!!!

Here we are again with another bit of sad news.

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.

Two sets of human footprints following the mama turtle!  At the top of the frame, the turtle tracks stop and the human tracks continue.

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:

Poached Nest – Note footprints and hole at the top of the tracks

  • 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!


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Camp Dogs. +3

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 info@ayotlcalli.com.  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!

 


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Leatherback Babies

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.


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Good News / Sad News….A Night on Patrol

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.

 

A little further down the beach….

They found a LEATHERBACK / LAÚD 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.


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Pulguita Del Perro Pinto

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.

 

 


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Our first visit from a NEST ADOPTER!!

Big sister Jenny with her new ‘siblings’

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.