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A Journey Into Paradise

Mexico Resorts Protect Sea Turtles and Educate Travelers in Riviera Maya

17 November, 2015

Seven of the world’s eight species of endangered sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of Mexico each year,with four of these found in the Riviera Maya region extending south from Cancun to Tulum along the nation’s only Caribbean coast,including the popular destinations of Playa del Carmen,Akumal,Puerto Aventuras and Puerto Morelos. In fact,Mexico has emerged as a world leader recently in the world’s sea turtle conservation efforts,with officials considering many options in conjunction with help from fisheries and biologists.

“The challenge for conservationists is to take this impossible resource conflict and turn it into cooperation,involving hotels and their guests in keeping beaches turtle-friendly and keeping turtle nests safe,” writes the Epoch Times.

Annual Journey

Each year female sea turtles,including loggerheads,green turtles and hawksbills,make their way to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to lay their eggs along its pristine,white sand beaches. The nests are protected all along the more than 100 miles of coastline by many resorts who bury chicken wire and use a variety of other methods to keep them safe as they nest,incubate and hatch between spring and early fall,when they make their way out into the open sea.

In the natural world,the mother sea turtle would dig the nest as a natural incubator at the perfect depth to protect them from the elements and allow the sun’s warmth to work its magic. Still,the eggs and the babies are very vulnerable to predators,such as crabs,raccoons,birds,dogs and even the sea itself. To ensure the safety of the nests,volunteer turtle squads from the area’s resorts and hotels have perfected the art of digging the eggs up from the beach and resettling them into manmade nests that are labeled before they are fenced off from danger until they hatch and are released into the sea.

Resorts Helping in Conservation

Eduardo Rosales from the Cabanas La Conchita near Tulum told the Epoch Times that the resort turns off its generator-sourced electricity each night during nesting season,since the adult female turtles don’t like light and it can distract babies,causing them to go the wrong direction after hatching. This helps encourage the females to come onto the beach at night – and guests are typically very supportive once they discover the reason. 

“They understand what we’re trying to do,and they want to help,” shared Rosales 

Considered an endangered species in the U.S. and Mexico,sea turtles enjoy state and federal protection,but are nonetheless killed (often accidentally) in large numbers by fishermen,debris and entanglement in gear. Adding to the challenge,nesting is often inhibited by coastal development and other human activities,making cooperation by tourists,locals and the hospitality industry an integral part of reversing this alarming trend.

“Resort guests are delighted to be involved in this initiative as part of their vacation experience,they help security guards keep watch and they play an important role in their survival,” shared Carlo Bicaci,general manager of Grand Residences Royal Resorts,which lies between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Akumal

If you happen to be visiting Mexico’s Riviera Maya during the late spring and summer months,consider checking out one of the area’s turtle tours,which provide even more opportunities for learning and turtle-related fun. The town of Akumal – which literally means “Place of Turtles” – is one of the most popular spots for sea turtle watching and learning about these amazing creatures. Here,the Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA),which is one of the world’s premier sea turtle conservation programs,offers a volunteer program and a variety of other educational opportunities.

Have you ever witnessed a sea turtle in the wild? If so,share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below today!

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