Sea Turtles Nesting in Cozumel from May until November.
Traveling The Yucatan Peninsula during the turtle nesting season (June), we went to Cozumel to see the event more closely. Thousands of sea turtles (Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead) arrive to lay their eggs on the beach of Cozumel during the nights of April through September, with an average of 3000 – 4000 nests laid each year. They lay from 100 to150 eggs and can nest up to 6 times in one season.
The Turtle Salvation Program is a non-profit organization commissioned by the Mexican Government, managing the protection of nesting sites, and sea turtles. We therefore looked for some information on the Internet and asked the Tourist Office on the island. At night, we went directly to their premises, to meet the squad. Only them are allowed to walk the beaches in search of nesting female turtles, turtle nests, and recent hatchlings.
The team of volunteers was full that night, but as it was the last of our 2 night on the Island, we have been convincing and join the group. Equipped with shovels and buckets, we went to the back of the pickup truck. During the next 6 hours, we will go up and down the Eastern shore of the island, in search of any turtle activity. The Association is intended to note the different nesting, via GPS. Marking them for monitoring and identify which turtle is active. But also, relocation of eggs, when a nest is too close to the seafront, unearthed and dig a new “nest” in order to place each egg safe from tides.
Being large, clumsy animals, they were a source of meat for centuries and easily captured while nesting. Myth and legend make it a difficult habit to change. Babies are not spared, this time by their predatory animals like birds, dog and crabs. If they don’t make it to the ocean quickly, many hatchlings will die of dehydration in the sun. Once in the water, they typically swim several miles off shore, where they are caught in currents and seaweed that may carry them for years before returning to nearshore waters. The obstacles are so numerous for baby turtles that only about one in 1,000 survives to adulthood.
That being said, sometimes, tourists visiting the bars inside the nesting areas find themselves having to leave after dark at the request of Police or military personnel. If this happens to you, please do your part to help the turtles by following these guidelines during turtle nesting season:
- Use only parking lights between Mescalito’s and Paradise Café
- Drive slowly because volunteers are walking on the roadways in low light conditions
- Be quiet because loud noises scare turtles back into the sea without laying eggs
- Never illuminate the beach or ocean in nesting areas
- Observe turtles from the roadside only
- Do not walk on beaches at night during the nesting season
On the East side of Cozumel island, the City works in co-ordination with local police and Federal armed forces to limit activity on the east side at nights during turtle nesting season.
Islanders, biologists, interns, and tourists volunteers have spend thousands of hours over the years to save the sea turtle population in Cozumel and now you can join them too ! But please, do not go on your own, military and police officers are guarding the passage to the east side of the island during this month. They will stop anyone going into these areas without authorization.
Turtles do not cry :
Well, actually yes, they “cry”, but this has nothing to do with the laying period. Sea turtles like other reptiles, have less efficient kidneys and cannot produce urine with a higher salt concentration than the water they drink. It is the only time we see them out of the water but they “cry” in the sea as well. Sea turtles have a gland in each eye that pumps salt ions into their tears.
They excrete salt absorbed in seawater from their eyes to avoid poisoning themselves, and maintain the correct balance of salt in their bodies, which is why they seem to cry.
In a nutshell:
Contact : We did not have to give a mandatory donation or any fees, at the time we went there, but several company organise “tours”. Costing about 70 $.
We recommend to go directly to the following address :
Direccion Municipale de Ecologia y Medio Ambiente – Calle 11 at Av. 65
Tel : 987 872 5795