The month of May heralds the start of the 2018 turtle season in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean. During the summer, thousands of sea turtles will come ashore every night to dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. Royal Resorts is ready to welcome these maritime visitors and protect their precious offspring.
Like biologists, marines, hotel workers and conservation volunteers all along the Quintana Roo shoreline, Royal Resorts security guards patrol the beaches at night on the look out for turtle tracks in the sand. They strain their eyes at the mere hint of a shell or a raised flipper emerging from the surf as these marine reptiles heave their huge bodies on to dry land in search of a nesting site.
From May to September, female green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles struggle across the sand after nightfall to lay their eggs on the beaches of Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres, Contoy, Holbox, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an and the Costa Maya in southern Quintana Roo. Forty-five to 60 days later, their eggs will hatch and the baby turtles will break free of their shell prison and race across the beach towards the waves and a new life at sea. In 12 to 15 years time, some of them will return to lay their own eggs on the same beach, repeating the cycle.
Royal Resorts is a Cancun turtle protection pioneer
Royal Resorts is proud to do its part to protect this ancient species that has been swimming the oceans for around 120 million years. A Cancun conservation pioneer, Royal Resorts has been watching over sea turtles since 1985. Official record keeping began in 1998 and since then its staff has protected 7,995 nests and released 741,042 baby turtles!
The 2017 turtle season was incredible with record numbers all over the Mexican Caribbean. At Royal Resorts, 1,063 nests were protected and 111,226 baby turtles released at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in Cancun; 228 nests and 20,000 hatchlings were reported at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun to the south of Puerto Morelos and five nests at The Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya.
And it wasn’t just at Royal Resorts, all over the Mexican Caribbean record numbers of turtles were reported, for example the Akumal Ecological Center (CEA) reported that in the four bays its volunteers patrol there were over 1,300 nests and more than 102,000 hatchlings, the most ever seen in the Akumal area.
Sea turtle nesting is cyclical and good years with lots of turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs are invariably followed by slow years. Last year was a record-breaking season. We hope that 2018 will buck the trend and will also be an excellent year for the sea turtles.
A labour of love
Before turtle season begins, Royal Resorts security guards attend refresher courses on sea turtle nesting habits and the procedures they must follow during the season that are given by biologists working for the statewide conservation campaign. They are now ready for their annual summer vigil.
Night after night, they will patrol the beaches in search of nesting turtles. When they find one, they watch over her as she laboriously digs her nest and lays her eggs. They carefully collect the eggs and move them to a nursery where another nest identical in shape and depth to the original is dug. The species, date and time of nesting and number of eggs are recorded and another long wait begins until the clutch begins to hatch.
As the estimated hatching date approaches, the guards begin to monitor the nest closely until they see the first tiny turtles emerging exhausted from the sand. They are moved to a container to regain their strength before being released after dark when predatory seabirds such as gulls and frigate birds have gone to roost.
Follow the turtle season rules
If you are going to stay at Royal Resorts or Grand Residences or wherever you are in Cancun and the Riviera Maya this summer, please join us in protecting our turtle visitors. Follow the turtle rules:
• Alert the security staff when you see a turtle on the beach at night
• Be very quiet and keep still, noise, lights and the movement of people disturb nesting sea turtles and cause them to leave the beach without laying eggs
• Watch from a distance of ten (33 feet) meters
• Do not attempt to touch the turtle or crowd her
• Do not shine a torch or use the light on your mobile phone
• No flash photography
• No smoking
• Obey security staff when they give instructions
• Help us to keep our beaches and sea clean. Plastic straws, bags, packaging, fishing lines and nets and other garbage floating in the water are lethal to turtles and other marine life
• When snorkeling or diving watch turtles from a distance, do not swim towards them and do not attempt to touch them
• Wear a t-shirt when snorkeling as protection from the sun instead of applying sun block. Sun products pollute the water and are harmful to marine life
• Turtles are protected by Mexican law and it is illegal to disturb them, persecute or hunt them and consume their meat or eggs.
The Mexican environmental agency SEMARNAT rules for turtle nesting season are designed to keep human contact with the creatures to a minimum. The rules stipulate that fragile baby turtles can only be released by trained personnel and not by hotel guests. Failure to comply with these measures can lead to resorts losing the right to have turtle nurseries on site or to be part of the turtle protection campaign.
First turtles of 2018 arrive in the Riviera Maya
The first turtle nests of the season have already been reported in Puerto Morelos, Akumal and Xcacel and there will be many more in the months to come.
Stay posted during the summer for more 2018 turtle season news from Royal Resorts
For more news on the 2018 turtle season in Cancun check the summer editions of the Royal Reporter e-newsletter and the Royal Resorts blog.
(Source for Akumal statistics, CEA)
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