Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock

Musical Mariachis and Traveling Tortugas

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Warm Caribbean nights.  

Great music.  People-watching, oh, and baby turtles!  

Could it get any better?

Four vocalists – great voices

On Tuesday night the Mariachi Band of the Fifth Naval Region (Mariachi de la Secretaría de Marina) performed in Centro as part of the annual Isla Fest, a summertime celebration of the anniversary of Isla Mujeres.  

Four vocalists Lieutenants Nancy Armenta, Victoria Tapia Master and Gustavo Lopez plus the leader Captain Eduardo Navarro Graciano lit up the stage with their huge smiles and rich voices. 

Lawrie and I arrived a few minutes ahead of the scheduled start time and were surprised that there were so few people in the audience.  

By the time the group started – precisely at eight o’clock, military time – the chairs were filled with navy and city officials and numerous locals.  

And then the music started.  Wow!  You could tell the group of eighteen musicians had been together for quite some time.   Everyone was relaxed and performing at their peak.  It was a great way to spend an evening.  Perfect!

As for the tiny turtles, as most of you know we live in a house on the beach in Mexico and summer time is turtle nesting time.  

Kim Bailey & Celeste Reed – Nashville 

The next night, Wednesday evening, as we were getting settled to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunset we heard a voice yell: “Hey, he’s got a baby turtle!” Lawrie and I dashed out to the beach to see what was happening.  

Three visitors from Nashville had caught a local canine in the act of gulping down a hatchling.  Too late!  He licked his lips, checking around for another tasty treat but the Nashville folks were fiercely guarding the nest. 

Bert Bailey – grinning like a little kid.

Unfortunately, this year, none of the eggs from the nests along our stretch of beach have been collected allowing numerous neighbourhood canines to dig up eggs and sometimes the babies.  According to my neighbor Ronda Winn-Roberts’ blog, Isla Mujeres News & Events, SEMARNAT the government office responsible the ocean and shores around Mexico, in conjunction with the local turtle farm, have hatched out approximately 33,000 baby turtles this summer.  A record breaking 130,000 hatchlings are predicted for this year, creating a huge space problem.  The turtle farm is overflowing with nests, baby turtles, and eggs.  There just isn’t any more room for eggs.  Lucky for us; because of the overcrowding we were able to experience a hatching firsthand, to see the baby turtles digging their way to the surface. 

Celeste Reed, taking babies to the water

Typically we wouldn’t interfere with the process but we didn’t want any more of the babies to become snack food for the lip-licking canine.  We spent the next thirty minutes gently scooping up about one hundred hatchlings as they struggled upwards towards the fading light of sunset.  

Our shoreline currently has a two-foot deep buildup of Sargasso seaweed, drifting in from mid-Atlantic.  It is a weird phenomenon this year affecting all of the Caribbean beaches.  As the babies scrambled towards the ocean they were faced with a mountain of seaweed, so our little group of humans gave them helicopter rides over the obstructions into the water. 

Seaweed drifting in from Atlantic

Then in the gathering dusk the sharp-eyed frigate birds spotted the tiny bobbing heads, diving from great heights to snatch up a few of the babies.  The turtles face a long and arduous life of avoiding predatory fish, boat propellers, fishermen’s nets, illegal hunting, and entanglement in plastic trash.  It isn’t easy being a turtle – about one turtle in a thousand will live to maturity.

Lawrie checked the nest again this morning.  A few more late arrivals managed to dig out and disappear under the cover of night, hopefully finding their way over the mound of seaweed, to the sea and not towards the bright lights of Cancun.

Now, if we could have arranged for the Mariachi band to perform at our house while we sipped wine and watched the turtles hatch – that would have been a five-star night!    

Hard not to grin when you see baby turtles!

Hasta Luego

Lawrie & Lynda

2 Replies to “Musical Mariachis and Traveling Tortugas”

  1. Wow! That's amazing! Since that entire beach looked like a minefield earlier this summer, I guess it stands to reason there'd be lots of eggs hatching now. I see lots of baby turtles in your future in the coming weeks!


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