Baby Sea Turtles and Crocodillos

Las Penitas Travel Blog

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Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
The tiny beach town of Las Penitas is about 45 minutes from Leon. Aside from the cliche-inspiring sandy beaches and general lack of touristas, the main attraction is the Isla Juan Venado nature reserve, a long, thin stretch of mangroves and wildlife. For a few bucks we hired a local boatman to take us up the estuary with his son pointing out the wildlife that we would have almost certainly missed. Though the miniscule engine was loud and ailing, there's simply no way that we would have been able to spot the wildlife on our own.

Puttering up the river at a snail's pace, we saw countless birds. I'm no bird-watcher, but I think most of the big, white birds were egrets. We also saw countless other winged creatures, ranging from big, blue birds to tiny things that catch their food whilst diving underwater, and a lone iguana hunting on a termite mound.
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
And then there were the crocodillos. While we didn't see any mama-crocs, we saw five or six baby crocs, the biggest of which was about a meter in length.

Once we were an hour or so upriver, we landed the boat to explore the beach and search for baby sea turtles. No such luck - they generally only rush down to the water in the morning or the evening - but we did see the unmistakable sand marks of a big sea turtle wallowing up the beach to lay eggs. Aside from a nifty-looking dead lobster, a couple Portlanders, and a crap-ton of mosquito bites, it was just another deserted pacific coast beach.

On the boat ride back we stopped at a protected area of the reserve and were greeted with a surprise - actually, the surprise I'd had my fingers crossed for the whole trip: an entire litter of freshly hatched sea turtles.
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
The workers at the reserve dig up the sea turtle eggs and bury them again in protected, roped-off zones. When the turtles hatch - typically in the morning - they're safely enclosed in a protective net until the workers release them in the evening. We got to see the entire litter of 3-hour-old baby sea turtles, and were encouraged to carefully hold them in our hands. These things are super tiny and cute enough to draw a long, exaggerated "Awwww" from everyone lucky enough to see them.

With the reserve trip completed, we had a tasty lunch on the beach and got on the road back to Managua, where our flight for the Corn Islands departed from the following morning at 6am.
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Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
Isla Juan Venado nature reserve
Cocodrilo!
Cocodrilo!
La playa
La playa
Sea turtle tracks
Sea turtle tracks
Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtles. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtles. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Baby sea turtle. Three hours old.
Sometimes we all get lucky in our …
Sometimes we all get lucky in our…
The sea turtle eggs are dug up and…
The sea turtle eggs are dug up an…
Las Penitas
photo by: Mortyzia