The Mazatlan Aquarium in the Mexican state of Sinaloa has released more than 1,200 Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings (Lepidochelys olivacea) into the Pacific Ocean, in an effort to protect this endangered species. Several tourists and staff and students at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa took part in the activity that was held on 14 November in Mazatlan.
"It was time for more turtles go to nest this month because November is when the season of nesting sea turtles ends," Joseph Barron Hernandez, program coordinator of the Sea Turtle Standing at Mazatlan Aquarium, and the acquarium's director Jorge del Rincón Jarero, said in a statement.
According to Hernandez, of the eight species of marine turtles in the world, seven come to lay eggs on the beaches of Mexico. The Mazatlan Aquarium has protected about 4,400 nests and liberated more than 270,000 hatchlings for more than 20 years.
However, this year the acquarium has collected, nested and released a record number of sea turtles. Jarero said that last year they managed to rescue only a little over 700 nests and this year the count has already surpassed 1,200 nests.
Olive Ridley's Nesting Habits
The Olive Ridley sea turtles, which get its name from the olive coloration of its heart-shaped top shell, is considered the most abundant sea turtle in the world, with an estimated 800,000 nesting females annually. And, according to NOAA Fisheries, the Olive Ridley has one of the most extraordinary nesting habits in the natural world with thousands of turtles nesting together.
"Large groups of turtles gather off shore of nesting beaches. Then, all at once, vast numbers of turtles come ashore and nest in what is known as an "arribada" (meaning arrival by sea in Spanish). During these arribadas, hundreds to thousands of females come ashore to lay their eggs. At many nesting beaches, the nesting density is so high that previously laid egg clutches are dug up by other females excavating the nest to lay their own eggs," NOAA explains.
Such a nesting once happened on Rushikulya Beach in India, where an estimated 200,000 turtles nested during a single arribada. And although the numbers have since diminished, thanks to poaching and illegal fishing, beaches like Mazatlan, Rushikulya and others along the southern stretch of India's coastline, serve as nesting grounds for the Olive Ridleys and are often the site of fierce battles between environmental activists and other sections of human society.
Check out the slideshow to view the pictures of the release of over 1,200 Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Mazatlan...