The first sea turtle of the 2019 season has already been spotted on Cozumel island, which lies just offshore from downtown Playa del Carmen and offers easy access to the world’s second largest barrier reef. Her arrival came nearly three weeks earlier than usual, when the female turtle was seen digging in the sand at Punta Sur by la Fundación de Parques y Museos de Cozumel (the Cozumel Parks and Museums Foundation).
“The turtles are already in search of sand for their nests”, shared Cozumel island biologist and Foundation director Rafael Chacón Díaz. “As the days go by, the frequency of the arrival of the turtles is expected to increase, since sea turtles nesting season in the Mexican Caribbean typically starts in the middle of May”.
Where to Spot Sea Turtles in Mexico
Beaches in Cancun and south of there throughout the Riviera Maya region actively participate in sea turtle protection programs every year. These essential initiatives are designed to safeguard nests from being disturbed and help to ensure that the maximum number of baby turtles make it into the warm turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean Sea. The island of Cozumel has been actively protecting its sea turtles for more than 30 years, achieving excellent results with respect to species conservation and the growing number of turtles arriving each year to lay eggs on the island’s beaches.
Many of the gorgeous white sand beaches located in and around other main Riviera Maya hotspots will also host nests this summer, so be on the lookout for sea turtles whether you’re staying in Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal or Tulum.
“In Puerto Morelos, one of the goals this year is to increase citizen participation in protecting the sea turtles, with the invitation extended to students, environmental associations, private initiatives, hotel workers and other users of the federal maritime land zone”, shared Puerto Morelos mayor Laura Fernandez.
Sea turtles are a protected species in Mexico, so it is illegal to capture them, hunt or steal the eggs. At night between May and October, female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the sand. Diving or snorkeling in Akumal or along the coral reefs just offshore can often provide the opportunity to see dozens of turtles. Volunteers are also needed to mark the nests in the sand along the shoreline so the eggs won’t be accidentally disturbed.
Do you have questions about vacationing in the Riviera Maya? Post them in the comments!
Want to see more fun things to do in the Mexican Caribbean? Read Off the Beaten Path: 5 Fun Activities in Mexico’s Riviera Maya!