Juvenile Hawksbill Turtle Rescued off Shore in Rincon de Guayabitos

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On Monday, April 30 divers rescued a juvenile Hawksbill turtle off the Bay of Jaltemba, Riviera Nayarit. Because “Jaltemba” has a hook embedded deep in her throat, Vicente Peña from Los Grupos Ecologistas de Nayarit and M. en C. Catherine Hart from Red Tortuguera A.C. had to get permission to transport her to Guasave, Sinaloa for treatment at the CIIDIR-IPN research center.

After a long journey by truck and bus, Catherine and Jaltemba arrived at the research center a few days later.

Treatment began immediately and Jaltemba was fed for the first time since her rescue.

Xrays were taken to determine exactly where the hook is located and also to see if she has any damage from a hit on her head. The hook has yet to be removed because of its size, however, they will attempt to remove it again tomorrow with the help of an ultrasound machine.

We are accustomed to seeing Olive Ridley turtles in our area, and their numbers have increased in some areas due to the conservation efforts up and down our coast. Hawksbills, on the other hand, are rarely sighted here. According to the ICAPO (Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative), protection of Hawksbills in the eastern Pacific is among the world’s most pressing sea turtle conservation issues; only a few hundred females are estimated to nest along the entire region’s coastline. The low nesting numbers suggest that the species is unlikely to survive without coordinated conservation actions to protect eggs, increase hatchling production, generate biological information and protect key marine habitats.

When I met with Vicente Peña, he informed me that there have been 20 confirmed Hawksbill nests in Punta de Mita so far this year (compared to only 4 in 2011 and none in 2010*), making it a very important part of the conservation efforts in our area. Punta de Mita is one of only two known Hawksbill turtle nesting sites in the Pacific coast of Mexico.

If all goes as planned, Jaltemba will recover by mid-July and will be re-released here in Rincon de Guayabitos with a satellite tracking device so they can learn more about this critically endangered species.

We will keep you posted on Jaltemba’s progress.

*Nesting numbers and information provided by Catherine Hart, Red Tortuguera A.C., Tepic, Mexico.

Written by Allyson Williams at JaltembaBayLife.com, a community website for Rincon de Guayabitos, La Penita and Los Ayala

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