Turtles – Mexico’s Enchanting Endangered Species
The sea turtle is by far one of the most enchanting and beloved travellers of the vast, open oceans of the world and Mexico is lucky enough to host many of their nesting sites! In fact, all along Mexico’s coastlines there are nesting sites for green turtles, loggerheads, and hawksbill turtles.
Female turtles return to the beaches on which they were born to lay their own eggs, sometimes travelling more than 1,000 miles to reach them from their feeding grounds! This ritual is not only fascinating, but essential to the survival of this species. The mother turtles are driven by pure instinct to drag their heavy bodies ashore and carefully dig a nest before depositing their precious cargo. Once this is done they return to the sea and leave their young to fend for themselves.
How Turtles are Being Protected in Mexico
It is a sad fact that all sea turtle species are now endangered, but measures are being taken to ensure that the next generations will have a chance to thrive and grow. It is now, for example. Illegal to hunt sea turtles or disrupt their eggs in Mexico, and during nesting season a dedicated group of people, including biologists, do what they can to keep nesting mothers and their fragile eggs safe. These conservation groups patrol the beaches at night to keep watch for mothers exiting the sea, and act as a deterrent to predators (both animal and human).
The mothers are left in peace as they dig their nests, but when they begin laying they are sometimes tagged and measured. The collection of eggs, known as a clutch, can contain 80 to 200 individuals and is transported from the original nest to a new one built to resemble it in a more secure area. These nests are then carefully guarded until the eggs begin to hatch (generally 45 to 60 days after they are laid). When they do hatch the guards, as well as lucky volunteers and tourists, get to help ensure that the turtles make it safely to the water; after that it’s out of their hands. There are so many hazards that most baby turtles will not mature, sadly, but this work gives them a better chance simply by getting them to the waves. The ones that do survive will return to these beaches in 12 to 15 years time to begin the cycle again.
How You Can Help
If you’re in Mexico’s beach destinations during turtle season there are a few things you can do to up their chances. Firstly, if you see a turtle on the beach let local authorities know ASAP. Secondly, be as still and quiet as possible to avoid startling them and do not approach or try to touch the turtle. If you take any photos please ensure the flash is off as turtles are very sensitive to changes in their environment. If frightened they will often return to the water in fear and lay their eggs at sea (bad for the babies!) so give them space and respect. Finally, if you think you have seen a nest do not approach or disturb it; let local authorities know of its location and move away.
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