Olive ridley turtle “arribada” in Mexico

Amid the ongoing disaster of the Gulf oil spill and the unspeakable violence happening in parts of Mexico, an astonishing natural wonder dating back thousands of years is happening on some Mexican coasts — the annual “arribadas” of Olive ridley sea turtles.

Described by scientists as “one of the most unique synchronized nesting habits in the natural world,” the “arribada” is breathtaking to see – turtles arriving in waves of hundreds on a single day. They face the usual threats of sea turtles trying to nest on beaches near humans – turtles harrassed and harmed, and eggs taken.

WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE, an organization helping locals protect the turtles, gives us the Ixtapilla beach story in excerpts from this article — (translation from Spanish via GoogleTranslate, so a bit rough -bold text is added by us):

(Ixtapilla, Michoacán) “This is one of 12 beaches in the world that records massive arrival of sea turtles…

WiLDCOAST, the Canada Fund, CONANP and Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga, have formed an alliance to support the efforts of the Nahua community of Ixtapilla in protecting this endangered species.

This phenomenon is recorded only during the rainy season on three Mexican Pacific beaches that do not cover more than 30 kilometers in total… the rest of the beaches of Michoacán have not observed this phenomenon known as arribada or nesting,”said Ernesto Padilla Albavera, Researcher, Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga based Mazunte, Oaxaca.

Ixtapilla Beach, located in the town of Aquila and almost adjacent to the state of Colima, each year receives more and more sea turtles during the arribada, which has attracted tourists, mainly from Michoacán, Colima and Jalisco.

… They … arrive en masse to the beaches of Ixtapilla Michoacán and the state of Oaxaca in Escobilla and Morro Ayuta, while in the Gulf of Mexico, a similar phenomenon but of the Kemp’s ridley turtles, occurs at a beach in Tamaulipas.

During the training courses taught by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas CONANP, and the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga CMT, members of the Camp Tortuguero Beach Ixtapilla, agreed on strategies to prevent the curious tourists from affecting nesting turtles and new offspring.

Maelia Roque Reyes, a 10 year old volunteer at Ixtapilla Camp Tortuguero, patrols the beach with other volunteers on Ixtapilla beach [during the arribada].

“I care for the turtles…,” said Maelia who asked for the tourists to see this natural phenomenon without affecting the sea turtles.

“When entering the beach, walk carefully because there are turtles … and we should not step on the turtles because they die,” said the little environmentalist.

Photos courtesy WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE

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