Sea turtle season in Cancun and Riviera Maya begins in May
Sea turtle nesting season begins in May in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. All along the Mexican Caribbean shoreline, the Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres, Contoy, Holbox, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an and the beaches of southern Quintana Roo, female green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, and the occasional giant leatherback turtle, come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Forty-five to 60 days later, their eggs hatch and the baby turtles struggle out of the shells and begin their perilous dash towards the waves and a new life at sea.
The birth of the sea turtle is one of nature’s greatest wonders and Royal Resorts is proud to do its part to protect this ancient, and sadly, endangered species.
After refresher courses on turtle nesting habits given by biologists working for the Ecology department in Cancun City Hall, Security guards at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in Cancun, and Grand Residences in Puerto Morelos, have begun their annual summer vigil.
Night after night, these conservation guardians patrol the beaches in search of nesting female sea turtles. When they find one, they watch over her as she digs her nest and deposits her eggs. They then transfer the eggs to a nursery where they must dig another nest that is identical in shape and depth to the original. The sea turtle species, date and time of nesting and number of eggs are recorded and another long wait begins until they hatch.
Finally, the watch is over and guests are invited to see the baby sea turtles being released to race across the beach towards the waves and a new life in the ocean.
Royal Resorts is a Sea Turtle Conservation Pioneer
Royal Resorts has been protecting the sea turtle since 1985. Official record keeping began at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in 1998 and in 18 years we have protected 6,686 sea turtle nests and released 604,309 baby turtles! In 2015, there were 527 nests with 55,434 baby turtles at the Cancun resorts and a further 69 nests and over 5,000 hatchlings released at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun. We hope that our seaturtle guardians will be even busier this year.
Follow the Sea Turtle Nesting Season Rules
If you are due to visit Royal Resorts or Grand Residences Riviera Cancun or will be traveling to Cancun or the Riviera Maya during the summer, join us in protecting these beautiful creatures.
• If you spot a sea turtle on the beach at night alert the security staff
• Be very quiet and keep still
• Watch from a distance of ten meters
• Do not attempt to touch the sea turtle or crowd her
• Do not shine a torch or use the light on your mobile phone
• Please, no flash photography of nesting sea turtles or baby turtles
• No smoking
• Follow the instructions given by security staff at all times
• Security staff will release baby turtles after dark when predators such as seagulls and frigate birds have gone to roost. Changes in Federal environmental law here in Mexico mean that it is no longer possible for guests to handle baby sea turtles.
• Help us to keep our beaches and sea clean. Discarded straws, plastic bags, beer packaging, fishing lines and other garbage floating in the water are lethal to sea turtles and other marine life
• When snorkeling or diving watch sea 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
The sea turtle is protected by Mexican law and it is illegal to disturb them, persecute or hunt them and consume their meat or eggs.
First Sea Turtle Nests in the Mexican Caribbean
Volunteers patrolling the beaches in the Puerto Morelos area, Akumal and the Xcacel-Xcacelito Turtle Sanctuary in the Riviera Maya and the island of Cozumel have reported the first sea turtle nests of the season. There will be many more in the weeks to come.
The first sea turtle of the season spotted on a beach in the Puerto Morelos area was a huge leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest species in the world and seldom seen in the Mexican Caribbean. Known as tortuga laud in Spanish, the leatherback turtle can be up to seven feet long. It owes its name to its carapace, which is rubbery and ridged, unlike the harder bony shells of the green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtle.
All sea turtles are ocean wanderers and none more so than the leatherback turtle. It swims the longest distances between feeding and nesting areas; distances in excess of 7,000 miles have been recorded, there and back again. It can also dive deeper than any other turtle, to over 4,000 feet and can stay immersed for over an hour.
Leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish and many die as a result of swallowing plastic bags and other refuse they mistake for their prey.
Xcaret nurses 12 injured sea turtles back to health and releases them
In more sea turtle news, after a year of intensive care in the Xcaret Turtle Rehabilitation Center, 12 green and hawksbill turtles were released in May to begin life at sea.
The three hawksbill turtles were juveniles, around eight or nine months old when they were rescued in a state of extreme malnutrition. The nine green turtles were hatchlings born in the 2015 season that were too weak to be released. Xcaret vets were able to nurse them back to health.
The most important center of its kind in Mexico, the Xcaret Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center attends turtles brought in with injuries caused by boat collisions, entrapment in fishing nets, plastic garbage and swallowing fishing hooks. Others have been attacked by poachers, dogs or jaguars or are suffering from anorexia, starvation or diseases. The survival rate of turtles rescued in such circumstances is up to 67 percent at the Center.
Together with its charitable foundation Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico, A.C., Xcaret has been involved in sea turtle conservation for more than 30 years. Flora, Fauna y Cultura manages several turtle camps in the Riviera Maya and on its watch it is estimated that more than 10 million baby turtles have been helped on their way to begin life at sea.
Check this blog for more sea turtle news during the season. You can also pick up a Save the Sea Turtle t-shirt from La Paloma Gift Shop at Royal Resorts and support conservation.
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