Turtle Encounter

(by Bill)

Caleta Partida is an inlet between Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. These are two
islands north of La Paz, you should be able to find them on Google Earth. The coordinates are N24 31’97”  W10 22’67”. This inlet/bay is the remains of a volcanic crater.

Most days we start at 7:30 am listening to the Sonrisa Cruisers Net on our long-range SSB radio whereby boats check-in and say where they are, what they are doing, any assistance they might require, and what the weather is at their location. It’s like CB radio on steroids. At 7:45 there is a very extensive weather report (given by the same volunteer just about every day) that relays what NOAA and other weather sources says the weather is for all of Pacific Mexico to Cabo San Lucas, throughout Sea of Cortez and mainland Mexico and down to the southern Mexico border.

While at Caleta Partida on one morning shortly after the “net,” we noticed a panga boat going around to all the different boats in the anchorage. It was the Guarda Parka and we thought they were checking to see if we had our park permits, which we were eager to show off. (We purchased two yearlong passes while we were in La Paz.) Well, what they were doing was inviting all the boaters in this bay over to the fish camp on shore to take part in their on-going catch and release of sea turtles. We didn’t have the dinghy in the water so I decided we would kayak over to the beach, I have got to learn to guesstimate distances to shore better. It had to be over a mile each way, and the wind seemed to be against us in both directions!

When we got to shore they had 11 turtles that they had netted overnight, lying on their backs on the beach. Once we all got there (about 16 cruisers) they started picking them up and placing them on a table to measure them and tag them. Once the team finished with gathering the data they needed on the first turtle they asked one of the boaters what her name was and she now has a turtle named after her in their turtle registry. Others named them after kids or grandkids. Julie has one named after her!

There were 9 females and 2 males, they weighed from 95 to 110 lbs, and measured about 34-40″ in length. Once the guys picked them up they tried to get away by beating on them with their flippers, you really don’t want to get in the way of their flippers (and they could bite if you got your hand close enough to their mouth). One by one they were weighed and measured and placed on the beach again on their backs to await their release. Once the researchers and volunteers were all done we all posed for a couple of group photos with the turtles, scientists, and Guarda Parka folks. Then the guys flipped the turtles over and aimed them at the water where they worked their way into the bay. Once they realized they were in a foot or so of water they took off at something like 10 knots. Later we saw some of them swimming around the bay.

We are having to rough it down here; in the islands north of La Paz it was a bit breezy at 5 to 18 knots with the temperature something like 75 degrees. The water temperature has dropped about 10 degrees since our arrival to the area; the water is now about 73 degrees. After spending three nights at Caleta Partida we left to go back to Los Muertos on the East Cape and then crossed over to Mazatlan.