Due to increased pollution and fishing, it is increasingly rare to view sea turtles during their miraculous first trip to the sea. Plan a trip to the Wyndham Gran Rio Mar Beach Resort in Puerto Rico in May or August to bear witness to this phenomenon.
When you arrive at the resort and walk into the well-lit, welcoming reception area, express your interest in the turtle-nesting programs at the front desk. The receptionist will arrange the experience for you through a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources. Since the turtles lay their eggs directly on the resort’s beaches, you only have to step out of your room and onto to the pristine Puerto Rican beach to witness this phenomenon.
If you arrive during the sea turtle nesting season in May, your adventure starts late at night when you follow your guide’s red light to the beach and anxiously await the emergence of the female sea turtles. The gentle giants crawl out of the ocean and onto the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs. Under the protection of darkness, watch her find the perfect spot, then gracefully use her fins to push away the sand and create a nest. When her nest is complete, she crawls into it and begins to lay her eggs. Meanwhile, your guide explains to you when it is safe for a closer look. You have a unique opportunity to be a part of sea turtle conservation and research when the guide asks for your help to measure the mother’s shell and count the eggs.
The Department of Natural Resources carefully measures the length and width of each female’s shell to determine her age. They also compare the number of eggs the turtles lay to the amount that actually hatch in the summer. The guide is careful to ensure that you are able to witness the event without interfering with the sea turtles’ natural process by using a red light and other preventative measures. Artificial light dissuades the female turtle from laying her eggs, but the red light emits only a limited portion of the light spectrum and doesn’t bother the turtles. Clear the way as she buries her eggs, covers up her tracks to the nest, and the crawls back to the sea. She hopes the eggs are sufficiently hidden from predators who can poach the eggs.
The Puerto Rican climate is perfect for helping the eggs incubate in the sand for two hot summer months. If you plan your trip in July or August, you may be lucky enough to witness the miracle of the eggs hatching. Meet your guide at the reception desk and head to the beach. It’s a little harder to predict when the eggs are going to hatch. Wait patiently at the site of a nest until you see movement in the sand. Suddenly, the fins of the baby sea turtles start to peek through the sand, and then they begin to surface. You watch in awe as they instinctively flounder their way to the sea.