The turtle season is in full swing. Almost every day, turtles arrive at the beach of Malena to lay eggs and almost every day there are turtle hatchlings to be released. Five species of turtles lay their eggs at Malena beach: Olive Ridley, Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and leatherbacks. The Olive Ridley is the most common turtle on Malena beach.
The Malena community has set up an association to protect the turtles that breed on their beach. Every day, or rather, every night and early morning, volunteers patrol the beach to check for turtle nests. The nests they find are dug out and the eggs are reburied in a turtle hatchery, where dogs, cats and poachers can not get at them. In this way, the people of Malena prevent virtually all egg mortality and generally some 90% of the eggs hatch.
When the small turtles hatch, they are released on the beach and accompanied until the water edge, preventing mortality from cats, dogs, ghost crabs and raccoons. But when they enter the water, the turtles are on their own.
Together with some guests we went on a very early patrol with the Malena communioty turtle patrol and were lucky enough to see a female Olive Ridley turtle come on the beach to lay eggs. On another day, we went to help release the turtle hatchlings, also in the early morning. This takes less luck, since the laying date of each nest is noted and we know that it takes 48-50 days for the eggs to hatch.
Last year the Malena turtle protection association released nearly 20,000 young turtles and it looks like they will release a similar number this year.