I have been taking part in turtle conservation programs since I first came to Quintana Roo almost 10 years ago. It may not seem tough, but it involves countless sleepless nights, mosquito bites, getting itchy sand all over your body causing irritation and many other discomforts that are well worth it, so much so that I continue doing it as as always: voluntarily. That is, with no other compensation than the satisfaction that comes of doing something good.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Morelos,which is the small fishing town where the Grand Residences project is under construction, and a good friend of mine took me to the beach to look for turtles. It was a beautiful night with the moon fading and we found a turtle almost immediately. This turtle was missing one front fin but was strongly determined to lay her eggs in a safe nest… and she did. Another turtle came out almost in the same spot, went to the top of the dune and made the nest. The three-fin turtle took a lot more time than usual building the nest, and laying the eggs, so much so that both turtles finished at the same time and slowly started their way back to the ocean. As you may know, using a flash when taking pictures of the turtles is forbidden since it can mess with their navigation system (no kidding). Because of that I didn’t bring a camera along with me, so I have to ask that you put your imagination to work and picture a calm sea with two turtles side by side, beautiful moonlight and its reflection on the ocean. It was hypnotizing.
Sea turtles and products derived from them have been used traditionally for many years. Fortunately, since the 1960’s the Mexican government has devoted time and resources to protect them. During this small walk looking for turtles in Puerto Morelos we were accompanied at all times by Mexican Marines; needles to say we felt safe all the time. The turtles probably didn’t share our feeling, since they don’t know that we won’t hurt them. But we knew turtles were safe as well.
Earlier this year, the Mexican government issued a new law to further protect the turtles. One of its most important articles says that a turtle’s nest shouldn’t be moved unless there is flooding, threat of predators or risk of contamination to the area where the nests has been made. Following this rule, we’ve witnessed the hatching of a nest that had to be moved. Sometimes when there’s only one beach and several turtles, two or more turtles make their nests on the exact same place. One green turtle made its nest where a loggerhead turtle had laid its eggs and left a mess behind. . Volunteers saved the remaining eggs and placed them corral where they developed. Unfortunately, only 6 eggs hatched. We were unable to set them free because the umbilical cord was still attached. However, seeing them crawl around the corral has been amazing.
Being able to volunteer in sea turtle conservation programs is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. If you are interested, ask the Security staff how to get involved and patrol your resort’s beach during your next stay!
(Note: The picture is actually from Veracruz many years ago, as I said: taking pictures with flash is forbidden and I didn’t bring a camera with me)