Sea turtles, clams, and terns oh my!

Driving down an incredibly bumpy and winding desert road, soft techno music filled the air as we steadily made our way to Punta Chueca. This small Seri town situated on the Infernillo Channel had been talked of in lecture, but the reality was that we had no idea what to anticipate; we bad been to Bahía Kino and toured there, yet this was a different kind of experience. Arriving in Punta Chueca was slightly jarring for me— before entering the town there is a field full of garbage, followed by several cinder block houses built by the government for the Seri people. This was not what I expected the town to look like, but that was the reality of what exists there.

Continuing our off road adventures, we continued down dirt roads and through Sonoran desert to our camping site on the beach. After several close calls and a questionable 4 point turnaround in our large van, we arrived at our beach destination campsite. This was probably one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen and the opportunity to camp there was such a big deal to me. As we got set up, the Seri family who were to be our guides and hosts for the four days we were there arrived by boat. After they got settled into camp, introductions were made then our camping trip officially began. We took the boat to one of the estuaries on the Infernillo Channel where one of our guides explained how the Seri lived off the land.

The road we took to get to our beach campsite.

The first full day of our trip was spent exploring other parts of the Infernillo Channel by boat and a small part of Tiburón Island. The presence of such diverse and active wildlife was incredible; we saw multiple groups of bottlenose dolphins swimming in the water, watched terns dive through the air while mating, and saw small rays dart through the water. We walked around a known Seri camping group on Tiburón Island, discovering small pieces of old pottery and learning about their history in the region.

The beach of a former Seri campsite on Tiburón Island.

Our second full day was focused on sea turtles. Most of our morning was spent watching for sea turtles in known breeding grounds. Sitting over beds of eel grass, we watched and waited for sea turtles to surface and luckily some of them did. While I only saw two turtles, the group saw around ten turtles during our morning. We then went to a sand bar and dug for clams to eat which was a special experience; we do not usually work to procure our own food, so putting in manual labor to eat was a unique experience for our group. Later that evening we cooked the clams and had dinner with our Seri guides.

The last day of our trip was spent packing up our campsite. We cleaned up whatever trash we had created during our stay to leave the beach in a better place than we had found it, said our goodbyes to our new friends, then stopped by Punta Chueca to meet some other Seri. After meeting some members of the community and exploring more of the town, we headed back to our field station. The trip was informative and experiential, as well as a fun way to make new connections with kind and warm people.

Sunset on our last night on the beach.