Vallarta Living | Art Talk | September 2009
|Photo Tip of the Week: Photographing Banderas Bay's Sea Turtles|
Larry and Linda Bennett - PVNN
September 08, 2009
Hola and greetings to Puerto Vallarta and to friends where ever you are! First, let me start by apologizing for my absence and not keeping up with my weekly photography articles. I had to make some very quick decisions back in June and I made the choice to return to the US to assist my mother in her time of need.
Please know that this is only a temporary move and we hope to be back in Puerto Vallarta very soon. Wherever you are, be it the Bay, the US, Canada, or even down under, please continue to enjoy my articles. It has always been my hope that you are learning from my articles as well. I continue to receive emails from readers confirming that they are indeed learning from my articles.
I recently returned to Vallarta for a short visit and to take care of some business situations. My home still has electricity and the water is still running, the turtles are nesting on my beach, and what more do you need? Life is good.
For the past three years I have volunteered and worked with a very good friend, Biologist Oscar Aranda Mena and his project. His project involves the restoration and protection of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Originally, as a photographer, I got involved with this program with the hopes of getting some unique and good images of the sea turtles.
Over the past three years I have been able to obtain some wonderful images. However, something that I did not intend to happen, happened. The Olive Ridley’s captured my heart forever! Not only are they fun to photograph, but their sheer size and majesty has given them a special place in my heart, they are absolutely amazing.
Photographing the Turtles is quite an easy thing to do and we will talk about some photo tips in a little bit but for now we need to talk a little more about the Turtles.
The adult Ridley’s are about 30 inches long and will weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. The adult Ridley’s (7-15 years old) will lie as many as three times a season and can lay up to 120 eggs each time (or I have see as few as three eggs later in the season.) The Ridley’s are Endangered and very threatened not only by predators, but also by man.
Yes, I said MAN. Surprised? I was and continue to be. This threat is the very reason for programs such as those by Oscar and many other wonderful organizations up and down the Bay of Banderas. These groups have certified volunteers which will transplant the eggs after a turtle has finished laying her eggs and returned to sea.
The volunteer will excavate the nest while counting each egg and then transplant the nest in a protected area that is secure and away from human poachers. It is very important to the successful hatching of the eggs that the nest is replicated exactly as the original nest.
Without human intervention and groups like the one headed by Oscar, only one in one thousand turtles will make it to maturity and return to nest. With human help those odds are increased to three turtles in a thousand will return to nest.
With these odds you can see the need for proper, certified human volunteers and programs. Also, with the decrease in nesting areas on the Bay of Banderas, due to increased building and fencing and lighting on the beaches and the increase in poaching of the turtle eggs, the turtles’ years are numbered.
There have been reports, as well as firsthand knowledge, that there have been turtles caught in fishing nets or taken from the bay by individuals in small boats, the turtle’s eggs are removed and the adult turtle is then thrown back into the sea and left to die a slow painful death.
Please, help the turtles if you see one on the beach laying eggs. Leave the turtle alone, give it plenty of space to lay their eggs, watch and protect the nest and then report it to the police or hotel security. They will call the proper authorities or volunteers.
If you see freshly hatched baby turtles on the beach DO NOT put them directly into the water. It is very important to their development that they are allowed to enter the water themselves. You see, they need to be on the sand before they enter the water as this process assists them in knowing where to return to as an adult to lay their eggs.
If you see a baby turtle lost or going the wrong way, please, before you touch them, wash your hands in the sea water followed by the rubbing of sand on your hands. Once you have done this, then very gently pick them up and move them to about ten or twelve feet from the water, they will do the rest. Again, you can help them by watching to make sure they are able to make it to the water without anyone stepping on them.
Photo Tips of the week are written by Larry Bennett, a professional photographer living in Puerto Vallarta. These tips are to be just tips, refer to your cameras owner's manual for specifics on your camera. Readers are welcome to enjoy Larry's website at LarryBennettPhotography.com.
Click HERE for more Photo Tips from Larry Bennett.