Have a Baja Moment! Dive into the Seasonal Marine Scene With Todos Santos Eco Adventures
Summer and early fall are two of the most active times for marine wildlife in Baja California Sur, and therefore two of the most exciting times to dive into the local activities scene with Todos Santos Eco Adventures. Here are three incredible seasonal adventures that should definitely be on your bucket list:
Sea Turtle Camp Adventure: Volunteer Nest Monitoring Program
This is a thrilling opportunity to work with local biologists on the Pacific coast of Baja as they take action to protect endangered Olive Ridley marine turtles. This overnight adventure is available to volunteers for only 6 nights in August and 6 nights in September, and space is limited to just 10 volunteers each night. In each month we’ve chosen nights around the time of the full moon when viewing is optimal for spotting the 100-pound female turtles as they haul their bodies out of the ocean and – driven purely by instinct – make their way to the rolling coastal dunes to find the ideal nesting spot. Each female will leave 90-120 white ping-pong shaped eggs in a sandy hole, camouflage the nest with a characteristic belly dance, then leave the offspring to chance.
That’s where the biologists and volunteers come in. Predators, coastal development and illegal poaching all threaten sea turtle populations throughout the world. At this sea turtle research station volunteers can help combat declining populations by working with biologists as they collect the eggs and relocate them to a protective nursery. In many cases volunteers will also be able to see mature nests bubbling with turtle hatchlings and have the opportunity to guide the hatchlings on their way to the sea.
The adventure starts in Todos Santos, where a late afternoon shuttle takes volunteers to Sea Turtle Camp. Volunteers arrive in time to settle into comfortable, safari-style tents with raised cots during daylight, then watch the sun set over the magnificent Pacific beach that is home for the evening. A simple but tasty dinner is followed by an orientation by the wildlife biologist. When it is good and truly dark there is a magnificent bonfire in the specially-designed firepit that shields the firelight from prying turtle eyes; those so inclined can indulge in s’mores.
Volunteers can then sleep for a few hours until the patrol starts in the wee morning hours, or they may decide to stay up and feast their eyes on the gorgeous moon and a sky free of light pollution. The biologists will gather everyone around 1:00 AM to start the 4-kilometer roundtrip patrol of the beach on foot to scout for nesting females and assist in relocating the eggs to protected corrals. Some nights volunteers may see several turtles, some nights they may find the nests after the females have returned to the ocean. And with any luck they’ll see some nests in which the baby turtles are hatching and have the opportunity to help the hatchlings make their way into the sea. In the morning volunteers enjoy a full Mexican “Turtle Camp Graduation” breakfast then head back to Todos Santos. One short night, but a lasting contribution to the revitalization of the marine turtle population in Mexico.
2013 Sea Turtle Camp dates: August 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 and September 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
Well, is it a whale or is it a shark?! Hint: it is the world’s largest living fish species (whales are mammals, sharks are fish). In other words, it’s a whale of a fish! The Sea of Cortez is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to see these mammoth fish (up to 40 feet and 20 tons!) and snorkeling with these amazing creatures is an incredible life experience. And while your mother probably told you to stay away from sharks, these gentle giants are only interested in plankton—all human flesh is safe!
The whale sharks generally start arriving in the Bay of La Paz around mid-to-late July and stay until the food supply moves out. While in other parts of the world you may have to take a boat ride of an hour or three to have such an experience, in the Bay of La Paz the whale sharks feed in the shallows just 10 minutes from shore. We generally like to leave Todos Santos early in the morning so that we can get out on the water before the wind picks up and makes spotting the whale sharks more difficult. We usually spend about two hours out with the whale sharks, then head back to town for an afternoon siesta. Pure summertime bliss!
The 4th generation fishing captains who ply their trade off the shores of Todos Santos will all tell you that August, September and October are absolutely the best months for fishing in Baja California Sur, and that the waters around Todos Santos are some of the richest on the Cape. The Pacific here is chock full of Dorado, Roosterfish, Marlin, Tuna, Cabrilla – and many Todos Santos restaurants are happy to cook up your catch of the day, or make it into a nice ceviche!
For more information on any of these exciting summertime adventures please contact Todos Santos Eco Adventures.
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