The Great Race at Playa La Barqueta (2007)

The last time I watched the turtle hatchlings being released at Playa La Barquete, was in November of 2005. Once again, the trip was very worthwhile. There was a good group of spectators there to watch the release after a brief presentation.

The presentation was given by Maricial (on the right in blue) and his two associates on the left. I forgot their names, but they assured me that they would read the post and correct anything that I have wrong.

The release was preceded by a short presentation, in both English and Spanish. A very nice touch!

Here was the first poster. It depicted the four characteristics of the turtles that allow them to be classified.

This poster depicted the three species of turtle that can be found in Panama. The largest was stated as being 2 meters in length. That is a lot of turtle.

This slide talked about the life cycle of the turtle. It is still interesting to me that the turtles return to the exact spot they were born to lay their eggs. Everyone was told of the dangers that the small turtles have in surviving from, dogs, to nature, to poachers robbing the nests for aphrodisiacs, etc. Maybe if we start the rumor that it is not an aphrodisiac, in fact it actually makes the male organ reduce in size until it is almost invisible to the naked eye, and that it makes females frigid for life, then this last predictor will vanish.

There were a few comments following the presentation. One of them was that they were happy to see more young people learning of this project and wanting to get involved. The more the young people understand, how endangered these turtles are, then the more likely that this future generation will help protect it.

If you read my previous post, you will know that Maricial gathers the eggs and protects them in this area.

After the eggs are hatched, he puts them in this container to await their release. It was said that there were over 400 to be released on this occasion.

Following the presentation, everyone walked down to the beach for the great race to the sea.

Each person that wanted to , was given a turtle to release.

Then the turtles were placed on the starting line and the race was on.

Here is a video of the turtle release. The quality is not the best on YouTube, but maybe it will give you an idea.

This is really a great experience. Until you get the opportunity to be a part of it, I hope this will serve as substitute.

I think that Maricial and all who are apart of the project to protect these turtles are to be commended. I was so impressed with Maricial’s enthusiasm, the first time, I wrote this poem in his honor.

10 thoughts on “The Great Race at Playa La Barqueta (2007)

  1. A worthy project indeed, and one that I want to be involved with. If you go next year, you’ll see me.

  2. Hi ,
    I have seen baby turtles released in Mexico, Costa Rica and Australia as part of turtle conservation programs.

    In Australia, I was told by researchers that the baby turtles should not be handled with bare hands as humans carry bacteria and viruses on their skin that can infect the vulnerable baby turtles, and sometimes kill them. Obviously making the baby turtles sick or even killing them undermines the admirable intention of raising the population of turtles surviving in the wild.

    I noticed from your photos that adults and children were handling the babies with their bare hands.

    Perhaps you can ask the scientists and other workers on this program at Playa La Barqueta what they know about this matter.

    I am certainly not suggesting that those attending these baby turtle release days should not be allowed to handle the turtles. However, to overcome any risk of human infection of the baby turtles, perhaps it can be something as simple as asking those who are handling the turtles to wear inexpensive disposable plastic gloves that have been washed first in fresh water to remove any chemical residues.
    Reagrds, Lindsay Holt

  3. Hola Don,
    What a great project. Marghe and I went to watch the laying of eggs as well as the hatching in Queensland, Australia several times. These were protected laying areas, but no release. It was all natural. One year I was asked to stand in the water with a flashlight shining on the water. The hatchlingsw swam all around my legs on their way out. What a thrill.
    Could you please advise me on how to learn how to attend this release in Panama? Thank you.
    Chau y salud, Marghe and Marty

  4. I out a feeler out and got this reply.

    Well Marcial is usually here at the beach as his parents & family are the owners / operators of the first tipico restaurant La Costena, and he still gathers and protects turtle eggs.

    That is really the only way I know of to contact him. The turtle laying season is just beginning so the first noticeable hatch-lings usually appear around September.

    Sadly as far as we can tell there is no longer a peace corps rep. in this area to promote the talks and education as in the past. There had at one point been some major conflict with ANAM as people had been making donations for the vivero etc. and ANAM wanted their hand in the pocket to control the monies as the beach is a preserve and under their jurisdiction.

    Marciel still protects and releases but no longer broadcasts any formal info……. but being Panama that could change at any time.

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