FAST WALKING along the powder-soft white sands, in the dead of night, at a speed nearly impossible to keep up with, we meet, Guillermo the turtle Whisperer of Xpu-Ha.  Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Guillermo spent most of his life in the United States in California and Texas.  Thankfully for the turtles of the Riviera Maya, he returned to Mexico about 2 1/2 years ago looking to connect with his roots and help the community.

Turtle Whisperer Guillermo

Guillermo found himself in Akumal.  He saw the great work that CEA- Centro Ecologico Akumal was doing with sea turtle conservation and he asked to join them as a volunteer.  The rest is history. 

 Turtles in Xpu Ha Riviera Maya Mexico

About 3 months ago, Guillermo brought his conservation skills to Xpu-Ha sponsored in part by Animo A.C.  with the support of Armando Lorences-Camargo, president of the Turtle Association of Quintana Roo.  (Get more information about Animo HERE or follow them on facebook)

Their shared vision is simple, to work in harmony with others to educate and further improve the co-existence between humans and nature, with the two main goals being the conservation of marine turtles and bringing the EZ Snorkel system to Xpu-Ha to assist those who are disabled or have special needs get into the water and witness the incredibly rich sub-aquatic world of the Mexican Caribbean. 

Protected Turtle Nests Xpu Ha

With the help of a few dedicated volunteers, Guillermo has collected and protected the eggs from over 100 nests.  The land that Animo and Guillermo have set aside for relocating turtle nests is already so full that it needs to be expanded. 

Logger Head Turtles Xpu Ha Riviera Maya 

He and his few volunteers have been working steadily to educate the residents and business owners along the shores of Xpu-Ha about the conservation of the two magnificent species of turtles that nest here yearly. 

The Logger Head and Green Turtle, would be mothers, are easily confused by bright lights (for this reason only red lights are used by the volunteers) and if there are too many people around they can get scared off, back into the ocean.  Often these mothers are able to return to a different spot on the beach to lay, but sometimes they need extra help. 

This turtle season so far, Guillermo has already helped several, "Special Needs Turtles", those who are missing a part of a flipper or have other issues, to dig their nests and lay their eggs.  This has been an incredible experience for Guillermo, he explained, "it is as if the turtle is aware of our presence and is accepting of our assistance." 

Guillermo Turtle Whisperer 

The area locals now contact Guillermo and his helpers when a turtle is spotted nesting on the beach.  He and his team hurry out to the site to asses the situation.  If the turtle needs assistance they help it to dig or cover the eggs or reorient itself back to the ocean.

Xpu Ha Riviera Maya

If a turtle lays its eggs in a place that has too much tourist traffic or if the nest is not built properly, the eggs are collected and relocated to the protected nest site.

Turtle Whisperer Xpu Ha

Guillermo and his assistants collect the turtle eggs,

Building Turtle Nests in Xpu Ha Riviera Maya 

and build a nest as close to the depth and size that a mommy turtle would build as possible,

 Turtle Nest Xpu Ha

The nest is then marked with the date the nest wast built, the number of eggs in the nest, the type of turtles, and the expected hatching date.  

Turtle Nests Riviera Maya Mexico

The nests that do not require relocation are marked at the scene so they can be monitored.

Xpu Ha Turtles Riviera Maya Mexico 

As of now the program has no way of marking the turtles for study.  Guillermo photographs each turtle, measures it and makes notation as to any distinguishing marks it may have that will help him track these turtles in the years to come.

Xpu Ha Turtle Conservation

These beautiful  creatures, so gracefully soar in the ocean and on land are heavy and awkward.  It is absolutely awe-striking to watch these gentle giants lay their precious eggs.  It almost does not seem possible that they could dig a hole deep enough to fit 100 or so eggs, let alone bury it. 

Turtle Laying

This mother Logger Head turtle strained to lay her 115 eggs.  Watch this MIRACLE of new life begin HERE!!! 

Turtles Xpu Ha

The thick sound of, THUAP, THUAP, resounds in the air and sand sprays as the mother turtle, already exhausted from the monumental effort of the journey up the beach and digging the nest, begins the arduous task of covering the eggs. 

The mother turtle ventures back into the ocean and within approximately 60 days, baby turtles begin to emerge from their nest. 

 Baby Turtles!
Here we see the first baby turtle to hatch from one of the relocated nests this season. 

From this nest 83 eggs were relocated, 81 turtles were hatched and two eggs were left in the nest for possible hatching.  This relocated nest could very well have a 100% hatch rate- this is more than exciting news for turtle conservation programs!
 

These numbers are crucial to any relocation program.

It is estimated that nests left on site have a hatching rate of about 92% hatching.  Once the nest is relocated they have about an 85% hatching rate if all goes well.  For the Turtle Whisperer of Xpu-Ha to achieve a 100% hatching rate is downright AMAZING. 

Baby Turtles Heading to the Ocean

For this program to continue and to grow, it needs help from people like YOU! 

Volunteers Needed 

If you are interested in VOLUNTEERING TO PROTECT THE MARINE TURTLES OF XPU-HA please contact Guillermo Camarena <guillermo@ezsnorkel.com> or look for him on facebook

Even if you can't volunteer, you can still help! DONATIONS ARE NEEDED in the form of money, backpacks, permanent markers, note pads, red lights and stakes to mark the nests.   

You can make a donation right now at PayPal animo-oneworld@gmx.de or contact Guillermo to donate your time or durable goods.

 

"Be The Difference You Want To See In The World" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Love JuliotLisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Eight years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for BuyPlaya, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook/BuyPlaya and Google+ to find out more about her adventures, events in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.

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