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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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.

Presenting Nora Murillo Tomorrow Night

A Benefit for Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli

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.

When:  Tuesday, 15 January 2019 at 5:45pm

Where:  Marea Beachfront Villas, Playa Blanca

We still have tickets available and purchasing is so simple.

You can contact Laurel Patrick laurel@elrefugiodepotosi.org / (755-557-2840) to purchase locally for MX$500, or purchase them online for US$27.50.





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Meet Raul Ramirez

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.

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Ayotlcalli to Present at the Symposium of International Sea Turtle Society

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.

Raul Ramirez

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.

To make a donation towards funding the cost our attending the conference, please click the Donate button at the bottom of this post on the website.

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