These species are threatened by habitat loss from infrastructure development or pollution (noise, trash, chemicals, you name it) from our actions on this planet.  Living on the ocean, this ever-present awareness influences our daily lives and practices. 

So many baby animals to see this spring, we just can’t get enough!  The youngsters are out exploring the world, some with parental supervision and others are flying solo relying on instinct to survive.  This stretch of our journey has provided some of the best close up experiences to learn about the wildlife around us.

First, we went to a crocodile sanctuary, El Cora in Bucerías, near Puerto Vallarta to learn more about local efforts to towards conservation and rehabilitation for not only crocodiles, but coatimundis, tropical birds, and peccaries (javelinas) who have been domesticated, abandoned, or injured.  With expansion of tourism, much of the American crocodile marshlands have been reduced and the sanctuary provides a safe place for them to thrive away from the growing nearby development.  We even had a first sighting of a young crocodile in the La Cruz Marina this year who was later brought to this sanctuary, protecting it from the heavy marina traffic and fishing activities.  At the end of a very in depth and educational tour of the sanctuary, the girls got to hold a blind baby crocodile!  We usually endorse the “look but don’t touch” approach in nature, but I believe the impact made upon them that day will help to dampen the ferocious images of crocodiles I created in my mind while growing up, no doubt highly influenced by the cinematic portrayals of them feasting on unsuspecting or unfortunate humans.  Even these fierce creatures need our help.

Next we went to a turtle release at Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates in Puerto Vallarta where we “helped” release baby Olive Ridley sea turtles after learning about their nesting and hatching process.  The anticipation for this event had been building over the last year as we waited for the pandemic’s impact on public gatherings and tourism to ease.  As the first little baby was placed in my coconut bowl (the vessel that we released them from) I immediately gained a sense of their vulnerability counterbalanced with their strong will to survive.  These little babies couldn’t wait to get on their journey!  We waited until two frigate birds (common predators for the little babies) passed overhead, far enough away from the release site and slowly let them go when given the OK.  As the sun set and these little ones crawled out to the vast ocean, I feared for their safety as a mom would, watching her kids cross the street for the first time – only these guys have long left their moms and won’t be coming back until perhaps they lay their own eggs.  They had only a short distance to go and as the last one made it into the ocean, the kids cheered.  Swim babies and find some food and protection out there!  No parental guidance for you, only instinct – Godspeed!

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Heading north in the Pacific, we stop at Isla Isabel, the mating grounds for blue-footed boobies and large frigate birds.  As we approach from afar, I feel like we are entering a virtual reality Jurassic Park game as the frigate birds soaring above look like pterodactyls encircling the island.  We last stopped here in December during mating season and enjoyed watching the blue-footed boobies courtship dance, showing off how vibrant their blue feet were in hopes of being discovered by an interested mate, while the male frigates inflated their large red gular pouches in hopes of the same.  Just under 100 miles off Mazatlan, this is fondly referred to as “The Galápagos of Mexico” due to its similar landscape and inhabitants (although no tortoises).  I never had an interest in birds until we came cruising, but to see them during mating season on our way south and now a few months later with their babies is such a rare treat!  The island is windy and we watch these odd looking fluff balls nuzzle close to their parents.  We even saw a tiny one with very little down hiding under its mother or perhaps father (both parents care for the chicks and alternate leaving to hunt for fish).  For all their awkward appearance and behavior, they are nimble, aerodynamic flyers.  They impressively dive bomb straight down into the ocean with fierce speed and accuracy to catch fish.  The babies’ feet are not yet blue, but give them time and they will live up to their namesake!

Being in transit on a sailing vessel this season in Mexico means humpback whale sightings – both from the “Wow that is so cool!” breaching or tail slapping experiences to the “Turn left now!” whale logging (resting) on the surface in front of you.  Seeing them from above the water’s surface, we experience the iceberg effect, viewing only a small fraction of these massive creatures.  This season is about moms teaching their energetic calves the ways of the world, resulting in lots of breaching, fin and tail slapping, and lots of quality time spent together in shallow waters.  I never grow tired of looking for spouts on the horizon and we are certainly on the lookout for them while underway.  We were able to listen to informative presentations from ECOBAC and RABEN to better understand the whale behavior we observe in and around Banderas Bay as well as the efforts to rescue whales from net entanglement and other dangers.  We were also taught some best practices to avoid unwanted contact with them, which pretty much consists of giving them plenty of space and keeping the motor running while underway – all too easy for us this season.

The above species are threatened by habitat loss from infrastructure development or pollution (noise, trash, chemicals, you name it) from our actions on this planet.  Living on the ocean, this ever-present awareness influences our daily lives and practices.  We turned our morning beach walks with Quincy into simultaneous beach cleanups, carrying whatever trash we could.  Unfortunately, we never had to stray very far to find trash.  This is only one small action towards what seems to be a hopeless future for our planet somedays.  However, with close-up wildlife encounters and engaging education, it is our hope that our children’s generation will continue to take the steps necessary towards conservation of the delicate ecosystems around them.  All above excursions were either donation based or simply cost us fuel, time, and patience in the case of the humpback whales and blue-footed boobies.  There is such a variety of close encounters with unique wildlife down here along the Central Pacific Coast of Mexico.  If these encounters interest you, strongly consider a visit.  If you can’t make the trip however, you can still gain some great insight and education through various online sites and documentaries.  One of our favorite sites that has supplemented our homeschool education program is World Wildlife Fund, Conservation in the Classroom. Check it out for free presentations by experts in the field and a wide variety of fun educational activities.

Some other documentaries worth viewing and where to view them:

Chasing Coral, Netflix 2017

Sea of Shadows, National Geographic TV 2019

Saving Jaws, Amazon Prime Video 2019

 

 

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