Children From La Paz and The Sea Turtles

BY: LISA VAUGHAN

In August, Baja Charters hosted 40 guests from Casa Cuna-Casa Hogar, an orphanage in La Paz, along with their teachers, for a day onboard Pacifica. Pacifica is a large and comfortable 96’ cruising yacht.

Once everyone was on board and the captain had given his safety talk, they headed off to the island of Espiritu Santo, (Holy Spirit Island) to weigh and measure sea turtles. The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) carries out turtle monitoring at a ranger station on the extreme north end of the island. Their objective is to assess the status of the turtle population in this area. That’s where the Pacifica headed, and the kids were very excited!

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Espiritu Santo Island is a Natural Protected Area declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. In addition, it is protected by Semarnat, the Mexican environmental agency, and CONANP, the Mexican Park system. In 2003, the purchase of Isla Espiritu Santo islands was made by private owners. Part of the funds were provided by Nature Conservancy organizations. The jurisdiction of the island group located in the Sea of Cortez is under the care of Mexican federal agencies. 

According to the Nature Conservancy, "the Sea of Cortez is the second most diverse marine body in the world.” This is a truly remarkable place deserving of international preservation. The island chain of Espiritu Santo includes the main island and five smaller ones.

The Pacifica headed to the Northern end of Espiritu Santo, just across from Caleta Partida, which is across from the ranger station. Caleta Partida is the crater of a large, extinct volcano that eroded below sea level with a large reef. A sand bar connects the two islands at low tide, the passage area has white sandy beaches that literally connect these two islands at low tide.

On the sea crossing, the children were thrilled and anxious, but polite and well behaved. They ranged from young up to and including a few young teenagers. After a two-and-a-half-hour cruise, they arrived at their destination. Both the rangers and Pacifica had tenders to ferry the kids to the turtle research station. Once there, both children and their teachers learned together. They learned that once each month the rangers collect the sea turtles swimming in the bay, then weigh, measure, and tag them.

Those that are already tagged are just weighed and measured. This month, however, the rangers had prepared a special treat for the kids, they asked the children to name each turtle before they were put back into the sea. The names were included along with their tag numbers, and input into the research database.

The kids played, enjoyed a catered lunch prepared by Pacifica's onboard chef, discussed what they had learned about the Sea Turtles, and shared thoughts about their exciting experience. It was rather obvious that neither the children, the support staff, nor the rangers, were expecting such a special welcome and experience that Baja Charters provided them. They loved it, and what an incredible day for these beautiful children! They will likely remember this experience for the rest of their lives, and for those who were privileged to serve the children, the sense of value and purpose was deeply felt.

A special thank you, to Christine Ramos, co-founder of Baja Charters for arranging the experience for the children. She and co-founder Terry Neal privately give back to the community often with generous, kind events. Also many thanks to The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), and their rangers. 

CONANP provided the children and teachers with nautical fishing caps and the rangers engaged with the children so well and educated them on the Sea Turtles. The children departed the Pacifica, happy, enlightened, and full of gourmet food!