Riviera Maya Sea Turtle Nesting Season 2014
One of the Riviera Maya‘s most exciting natural events has begun–the annual Sea Turtle Nesting Season. Beginning each year around mid-April and stretching into around early November, adult female sea turtles, primarily Loggerheads (Caretta caretta and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), make their way to the area’s beaches to dig nests and lay up to 150 eggs twice each season. Approximately 2 months later, these baby turtles hatch and instinctively head toward the sea with moonlight as their guide.
Akumal, a city about 20 minutes north of Tulum hotels, is a very active location for sea turtle nesting–in fact, “Akumal” in Maya means “place of the turtles.” According to the non-profit organization Centro Ecológico Akumal’s Sea Turtle Program, the combined Loggerhead and Green Turtle hatchling count in 2013 was an incredible 90,921 turtles. Sadly, most of these hatchlings were likely eaten by birds and other predators either before or just after reaching the sea–it has been estimated that only 1 or 2% of baby sea turtles reach adulthood; these statistics, combined with human encroachment and hunting have resulted in all seven types of sea turtles being considered as endangered species.
Walking the beaches, Tulum hotel visitors will likely see a great number of turtle nests, which are marked by turtle patrol conservation volunteers who tag the females and record and protect the nests. There are a number of things you ncan do to help with the sea turtle conservation effort:
Do not use lights on the beach. If you have a flashlight, it should be covered with a red or blue filter.
Turn off any balcony lights and draw the curtains or shades in rooms facing out to the beach.
Do not take any photographs using flash–this will spook the turtle and perhaps disrupt her egg-laying.
Alert your hotel staff or the turtle patrol if you happen to see a turtle on the beach or coming ashore.
Do not touch the turtles and please do not interfere in any way with the nesting process.
Keep the beach clean and free of any gear or debris that might impede the turtle’s path from the sea.
Keep your dogs off the beach, day and night. Barking dogs will definitely spook the turtle and many dogs love to dig up turtle nests.
Do not disturb the nests–if you see one that has not been marked, notify your hotel staff or the turtle patrol.
If you’d like more information or you’d like to see turtle nests or baby turtles being released, inquire with Cabanas Tulum Hotelstaff, who can help arrange for you to attend one of the Centro Ecológico Akumal‘s night walk tours. The CEA is the only organization which has been granted permission to access certain beaches during the nesting season.