I called to a couple of Mexican women on the beach and they came over and one started digging the rest of them out while the other went to get someone who would take care of the babies. It seems that the usual procedure is to keep them in together and then release them into the water at nighttime when there are fewer predators.
The guys who came to help told us not to touch them at all. And in fact I watched them spend quite a bit of time washing their hands with sand before they proceeded to dig out the rest of the brood. Apparently there are often as many as 80 babies hatched at once.
They were fully formed complete with scales on their fins and around their necks and shells that hardened up quite quickly. But they were pretty small, only about 3 inches long. Their colour was a pale greyish sandy tone, probably protective colouration.
Apparently these are the type that grow to be the large sea turtles that look like this and weigh up to 160 pounds. But only a small number of these babies will ever make it to adulthood because they are vulnerable to both birds and sea creatures.
I loved this little glimpse of nature's work. What a miraculous thing to see!