The sea turtle is one of the most beloved and charming of all the animals that grace Mexico’s shores and beaches each year! In fact, the beaches and coves of Mexico provide nesting grounds for loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles every single year!
Female turtles are driven by pure instinct to return to the beaches on which they themselves hatched. The journey can be arduous and reach around 1000 miles in total, but it is an essential part of the survival of this lovely species! These gestating females are driven by pure instinct from their feeding grounds to the nesting sites where they drag their heavy bodies ashore and dig a secure nest before laying their eggs and beginning the long journey home.
How Turtles are Being Protected in Mexico
It is a sad fact that all sea turtle species are now classified as endangered, but you will be glad to learn that measures are in place along Mexico’s coastlines to ensure they have the best possible chance of survival. In fact, it is now illegal to disrupt turtle nests or hunt sea turtles in Mexico, and there are specialized groups that volunteer to patrol the beaches. These individuals protect the gestating females and their nests with the clutches of eggs within them from predators: human poachers, racoons, dogs, crabs, and seabirds amongst others.
The process involved in protecting turtle eggs in Mexico has three parts: firstly, any mothers spotted are left alone to dig their nests and lay their eggs in peace (though they may be tagged and measured before they leave and return to the sea). Secondly, the clutches, which can have up to 200 eggs each in them, are collected and moved to nests resembling their original ones on a beach sanctuary. These beaches are guarded round the clock to give the eggs the best protection until they hatch (around 45 to 60 days). Finally, when the turtles do hatch, the individuals in charge of their protection, and some lucky volunteers, supervise their trip down the beach to the surf.
A baby turtle has many predators to worry about, and while the volunteers can only protect them from land-based threats, this advantage is enough to ensure that more turtles make it to the water. After that, they’re on their own. Sadly, many of the baby turtles will not reach maturity, but those that do will return in 12 to 15 years to lay their own eggs.
How You Can Help
There are plenty of things you can do to protect Mexico’s sea turtles:
- Don’t disturb their nests
- If you see a turtle on the beach, you should not approach or try to touch it
- Turtles are sensitive to noise, movement, objects, and artificial light, so if you take photos, do so with your flash off. If a female turtle feels threatened she will return to the sea.
- Volunteer to help hatchling releases or guarding sanctuaries
- Donate to turtle conservation groups