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A Dash for Survival

October 19, 2016








Most of us have seen footage of newly hatched turtles racing into the surf while trying to navigate waves and avoid predators looking for an easy meal. I’ve always been intrigued by the sight of these little guys battling the odds as they ventured into the sea.



Early morning fisherman



I’m an early riser and a few days after arriving in Puerto Vallarta I woke before sunrise and headed down to the beach for an early morning stroll. Halfway down the beach I spotted a baby turtle in the sand. It was on its back, dead.


It was a disheartening sight, but as I continued on my way I rationalized that most baby turtles don’t make it and survival is a numbers game, with only one percent of these babies reaching adulthood.


Later, I was pleased to see a few more turtles on the beach making a haphazard dash to the water, often being washed back onto the shore. Eventually, they disappeared into the gentle surf.


A fellow beach stroller told me about a turtle farm a quarter of a mile up the beach and I decided to check it out. Tourists, often kind-hearted ones like me, add to the difficulty these hatchlings face when it comes to survival, so eggs are scooped up and placed in a protective enclosure, safe from tourists and predators. Eggs are re-buried in the warm sand and labeled with the date of collection. While I watched, several emerged from the sand. Curiously, I never saw any shells.






As I walked back to our condo I reached the spot where I’d seen the dead baby turtle, but it was no longer there. A line in the sand indicated a path toward the sea and I was barely able to catch sight of the baby as it disappeared into the water—it hadn’t been dead after all.




The drama playing out at my feet served as a vivid reminder that survival is always a gamble. Nature is the casino and the odds always favor the house.












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I have seen these and actually had my girl scouts work with such a program. I understand it well.
By: Tabor on October 19, 2016
I've never seen hatchlings make the mad dash to the water. Very cool and nice pics too! I've seen a number of turtles during my diving days.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 19, 2016
We have seen this amazing event many times and it always warms my heart...
By: Kathe W. on October 19, 2016
Sadly, that's why they lay so many eggs - few will make it. At least the little guy you saw made it to the water.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 19, 2016
So the turtle was playing possum? The place they bury the eggs looks more like a graveyard than a hatchery.
By: PT Dilloway on October 19, 2016
Such cool pictures! Also cool how the gender of the turtle depends on the temperature of the sand during its incubation time. A whole batch of females, or a whole batch of males. Maybe mixed, if the temp falls within a specific narrow range.
By: Val on October 19, 2016
I'm glad people help the baby turtles. They're cool. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 19, 2016
I understand it's a numbers game, but I'm so soft hearted it would ruin my day to see one or more dead....never even had a chance. :)
By: scott park on October 19, 2016
Go, baby turtles, go!!
By: fishducky on October 19, 2016
How fortunate you were to see them. I've been on those beaches many times but never witnessed that.
By: Catalyst on October 19, 2016
Turtles racing for their lives, salmon leaping up falls...nature is very cool...and very tough. I would love to see the turtles race for life and though i don't believe you are supposed to interfere with nature, I would try and help them. Heck we are part of nature to, and cute is cute.
By: cranky on October 19, 2016
It is a wonderful thing to behold. We watched this amazing natural drama on Sanibel Island. Thanks for the excellent photos.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 19, 2016
At Perdido in Florida, we often see the turtle nests roped off, but we've never been there for the hatching. What a great sight it must have been!
By: messymimi on October 19, 2016
I've only seen videos, but they are always fascinating. How nice to learn that folks are helping turtles beat the odds, and how funny/great that one tiny one fooled you!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on October 19, 2016
tiny, fragile lives!
By: TexWisGirl on October 19, 2016
Great post. You've got great information and some thoughts on survival.
By: red Kline on October 19, 2016
It's so nice to hear how they are trying to save the turtles. I know someone who volunteers to make sure turtles can safely cross the road. I think anything like this is wonderful. Love the pictures
By: Birgit on October 19, 2016
Isn't nature fascinating and cruel, in equal measure. I must admit I get most of my natural history education from watch the David Attenborough wild-life programmes on UK television; superb camera work and commentary.
By: Bryan Jones on October 20, 2016
I like that combination of nature at its best but getting a helping hand. Wonderful pictures about something I have never seen -- lucky you!
By: The Broad on October 20, 2016
How wonderful that you got to see that. Sometimes Nature does need a helping hand. I once worked on a turtle safari with the Florida Game and Fish. We went out at night and rescued the wrong way turtles who ended up against the condo walls as they headed towards the condo lights thinking they were the moon.
By: Arkansas Patti on October 20, 2016
It's amazing what you see when you get up and out early in the day. Love your photos!
By: Tom Sightings on October 20, 2016

By: on October 22, 2016
if they all lived we would be overrun with turtles. and just think of all the other life that is nourished by those baby turtles.
By: Ellen Abbott on October 22, 2016
We always keep saying about the survival of the fittest. But when you witness it, you realise how hard it is.
By: joe on October 22, 2016

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