See all the pictures of our visit with the Turtle Brigade!
Wow, so getting to meet the volunteers of the Cozumel Turtle Brigade was SO COOL. And much to our surprise, most of them were children, just like us! (Well, a they were a little older, and a lot more bilingual!)
They met us at Punta Sur Eco Park, at the southernmost tip of the island of Cozumel. Punta Sur is a beautiful undeveloped park, home to saltwater crocodiles (gulp!) migratory birds, nesting sea turtles, and even COATAMUNDI, one of which we got to see! (Because it walked right up to us!)
We got to pile into the van with a bunch of other kids, Hector the ecologist, and Sherri Davis, who helped coordinate all of this and who translated (because our mom needs to get a lot better with Spanish.) We were first driven to the crocodile sanctuary, where we first saw spoonbills (they look a LOT like flamingos, and our mom made kind of a spectacle of herself in front of biologists by jumping up and down yelling “Flamingos! Flamingos!”). We walked out on the wooden walkway over the saltwater marsh... and then we saw our first crocodile! It was huge, but not terribly interested in us. It turns out that another HUGE crocodile was hanging out right underneath us, below the walkway. Luckily we were well out of reach.
Some of the kids took us up the lookout tower, where we could see lots of the saltwater marsh, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea on the other side.
Next the kids took us to the historic lighthouse at Punta Sur. Various kids were put on the spot by Hector, and they led us through the museum and explained the displays (in English!) to us. Sophie’s favorite part of the whole Punta Sur trip was the recreation of the lighthouse families home in the early 20th century.
Then the kids gave us these really cool mini-lectures on what exactly they do at Punta Sur. They do a whole lot more than just help the sea turtles, which was news to us! They also monitor the saltwater crocodiles and remove them from populated areas on the island. The boy who told us all of this began doing it when he was 8 years old!
They also monitor nesting birds on the island, do mangrove replanting, and clean up all those beautiful beaches at Punta Sur. These kids are amazing!
Valeria gave us the lecture on the sea turtle nesting program. During nesting season, the kids walk 9 kilometers (that's five and a half miles!) of beaches every night to find nests, move the nests that are in danger, and tag those remaining. That Garmin GPS we all chipped in to buy them? That will help them be able to locate any nests that have lost their stakes. When the baby turtles hatch, the kids help them out of the nests (by digging several feet in wet sand—not an easy job!), identify the species, and count them. Then they make sure they get into the sea safely.
Then we climbed the lighthouse. It felt like millions of tiny steps, but the view from the top was worth it. From there we had great views of all those beaches that green and loggerhead turtles nest on. Cozumel is an amazing place, and the unspoiled beauty of Punta Sur is especially magical to us.
Once we made it all the way down those teeny tiny steps, we presented two bags of YOUR donated items, along with the Garmin, to the happy Turtle Brigade. They were all like kids at Christmas. The first aid kits were a surprise hit—I guess they get hurt doing Turtle Brigade! Then they surprised us with a gift of sea turtle t-shirts, which we wear almost constantly back here in New Hampshire.
The kids of the Turtle Brigade—Valeria, Eric, Anders, and others (and we apologize if we got the spelling wrong, and we're kicking ourselves for not learning more names or taking a group picture) are so inspirational. They're SO good at what they do, that Argentina has sent representatives to learn how to take care of their sea turtles. And the Turtle Brigade kids are raising money (by selling plastic bottles they collect during beach clean-ups) to send a delegation to Argentina to teach those kids how to help turtles. We had $40 left from the Garmin purchase, and they put it into that fund. So your donations not only are helping sea turtles in Mexico, they'll also help sea turtles in Argentina.
We had so much fun meeting all the wonderful people who work so hard to help the turtles. Thanks to all the kids who made donations! They were SO appreciated by the Turtle Brigade, and they will do so much good.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED: Kate, Miranda, Anthony, Abbie, Lindsey, Claire H., Claire D., Isabelle, Michael, Garrett, Olivia, Jack, Megan, Hannah, and Sam
Maddie & Sophie
Previously: Maddie, Sophie, and some good friends gather donations for Cozumel sea turtles!