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Day 10 - October 9, 2008 - Mazatlán, México

By JJ Apéstegui

Co-ordinates: 23° 11.8’ N 106° 24.7’ W
Weather: Hot day, partly overcast in the morning, clear in the afternoon.

It was an overcast and humid morning, as is usual in the tropics during this time of the year, when we came alongside at the pier in Mazatlán.

Around 8:45 AM we heard the Captain over the PA system asking us all to gather in The Theatre for an important announcement regarding the voyage. Once we were all there, he informed us that until now we had been very lucky with the weather, having managed to sneak through three hurricanes in the Caribbean early in the season, and two in this area so far, but now we were faced with a new tropical storm, named Odile, who is showing great possibilities of becoming an important hurricane before the end of our trip, and that just happens to be coming exactly in our direction along the pacific coast of Mexico. For this reason, and for the safety and comfort of the passage, and after having consulted with the companies involved via telephonic conference since the early hours of the morning, it had been decided to recommend to the guests that they leave the ship in Puerto Vallarta, tomorrow, instead of staying onboard until Acapulco.

The Captain explained, with the help of a tracking map from NOAA, how the storm’s path was in a direct course to collide with us, and for that reason we would be forced to make a detour that could delay our arrival in Acapulco by 24 hours. Everybody was assured of having the most assistance from Silversea regarding the rescheduling of their travel plans.

After this, some guests were still interested in joining the excursion of the day, which was changed to a half day only. So we took a short bus ride of about 30 minutes to the Estrella de Mar resort, which, besides being the site of a modern golf course, also sponsors the Sea Turtle camp within its property. 3.5 miles of beach habitat is dedicated to the protection of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), where they come to lay their eggs every year. In a natural situation this species will come to the beach in huge groups “arribadas” that will lay eggs on the beach. Each female turtle can lay eggs between four and six times a year in the beach where it was born, but with the development of the beaches, this has become a smaller event as their habitat is encroached upon by humanity, thus the importance of projects like the Sea Turtle Camp.

We were greeted by the person in charge of the program, Marine Biologist Eréndira Gonzalez Diego, who explained the workings of the program. The turtle eggs are dug up from the nest where the mother laid them and kept in an incubating area within the protected zone. The decision to keep the eggs in a protected area justifies itself because the local people invade the beach and plunder them for the pregnant females and the eggs. It takes about 45 days for the hatchlings to come out of the eggs. The hatchlings are kept for a short while before being released in order to give them a better chance at survival.

Eréndira puts them in a box and takes them to the beach, putting them in the sand in order that they get imprinted on their native beach, which they will recognize when they themselves reach the adult age and come to spawn. Often the children of the local schools take part in this ceremony. Each child takes a baby tortoise in his/her hands to say goodbye and releases it on the beach.

The success of the program is attested by the numbers: in 1998 when it was started there were around 7,300 baby turtles released, by 2007 that number had climbed to 128,000.

Afterwards, we came back to the ship for lunch, and the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to re-arrange the travel plans of all the guests disembarking in Puerto Vallarta, although this did leave time for people to visit the historical town of Mazatlán on their own.

This evening during the recap, the Captain gave us an update on the situation with Odile, who is expected to become a hurricane soon, and Christian showed another installment of the “International Enquirer” finishing the recap with Val’s slide show of the voyage so far. This was followed with the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party, held in the cozy atmosphere of the Panorama Lounge, and dinner – another sumptuous affair, if a casual one due to the circumstances, held in The Restaurant.

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