It really started 2 nights ago when I went out on the conservation group’s quad bike with one of the team, Daniel. We whizzed along the beach scanning the sand for tracks made by female turtles. At 23.10 just a few minutes into our patrol Daniel suddenly turned the bike through 180° and pointed to a set of tracks leading up the beach. In truth I had not even noticed them, it took a trained eye to spot the tell-tale signs.
We followed the tracks to a spot near the top of the beach and to my excitement there was an Olive Ridley turtle making a nest to lay her eggs. At this time in Mexico, before the rains, the sand is still very dry and in many places unsuitable for nest making. The sand keeps falling into the hole and the female eventually gives up and tries somewhere else, on occasions she may try 8 times without success and is eventually forced back to the sea due to exhaustion to try again another night.
On this night however, Daniel had brought some containers of water and we also had a reasonable source of extra water just 40 metres away, the sea. Daniel poured water round the back end of the turtle and she was then able to dig a suitable nest. It was surprisingly precise, using her back flippers like hands she alternated from one to the other. She scooped some sand into a flipper, lifted it out and flung the sand away from the hole. She dug a vertical tube like hole with a bowl at the bottom which was almost precisely 45 cm deep and then commenced to lay her eggs, 2 or 3 at a time. A liquid also followed the eggs into the nest and this acts as a natural antibiotic to help protect the eggs against disease.