May marks the start of the sea turtle season in the Mexican Caribbean, which is one of the world’s most important nesting areas. All along the Cancun shoreline, the Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres, Contoy, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an and the beaches of southern Quintana Roo, female turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Forty-five to 60 days later, the eggs will hatch and the baby turtles are ready to begin their perilous dash towards the waves and a new life at sea.
The first turtle nests of the year have already been reported in Puerto Morelos, Akumal, Xcacel and Cozumel and many more will follow them in the weeks and months to come.
The Grand Residences security staff that are our dedicated turtle guardians are now busy with their summer mission. All through the season, they will patrol the beach in front of the resort on the look out for our visitors from the sea. They watch over turtles as they lay their eggs and then carefully move the eggs to a nest in a protected turtle nursery where they monitor them until they hatch.
Guests are then invited to watch the turtles being released. The guards gently place the hatchlings on the sand to scuttle across the beach towards the waves. They do so when night has fallen and the seagulls and frigate birds that would prey on these tiny defenseless creatures have gone to roost.
Female turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay their own eggs, so hopefully in 12 to 15 years time some of this season’s hatchlings will emerge from the waves and begin the long struggle up the beach to nest.
In 2015, the season tally at Grand Residences was 69 nests and over 5,000 hatchlings released. We hope that our turtle guardians will be even busier this year.
Royal Resorts is a turtle conservation pioneer in Cancun and has been participating in the annual campaign to protect the species since 1985. Official record keeping began at 1998 and in 18 years it has protected 6,686 turtle nests and released 604,309 baby turtles! In 2015, 527 nests were protected at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in Cancun and 55,434 baby turtles were set free.
Follow the Turtle Season Rules
If you are due to visit Grand Residences or Royal Resorts during the summer, join us in protecting these beautiful creatures.
- Alert the security staff
- Be very quiet and keep still
- Watch from a distance of ten meters
- Do not attempt to touch the turtle or crowd her
- Do not shine a torch or use the light on your mobile phone
- Please, no flash photography
- No smoking
- Follow the instructions given by security staff at all times
- If you bring your children to see the baby turtles being released, watch from a distance of two meters behind the hatchlings. Changes in Federal laws mean that it is no longer possible to handle the baby turtles
- Please do not take photos of the baby turtles using flash
- 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 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, persecute and hunt them and consume their meat or eggs.
The annual journey of the sea turtle is one of nature’s greatest wonders and Grand Residences and Royal Resorts are proud to do their part to protect this ancient, and sadly, endangered species.
First Turtle Nests in the Riviera Maya
The first turtle of the season in Puerto Morelos was a huge leatherback turtle, the largest species in the world and seldom seen in the Mexican Caribbean. Known as tortuga laud in Spanish, the leatherback owes its name to its carapace, which is ridged and rubbery, unlike the harder bony shells of the green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtle.
Elsewhere in the Mexican Caribbean, volunteers patrolling the beaches in the Xcacel-Xcacelito Turtle Sanctuary, Akumal and Cozumel have also reported their first nests of the season. There will be many more in the weeks to come.
Visit the Royal Resorts blog at www.royalresorts.com for more turtle news from Grand Residences and the Cancun resorts during the season.