Solidaridad is serious about the protection of Riviera Maya sea turtles. For this years nesting season, which runs from June to August, a new protection plan has been put in place. The aim is to further protect these elegant creatures in a place that is so crucial to their survival. Thankfully, organisations in the Riviera Maya, such as Virgin Hearts, dedicate themselves to protecting and conserving our natural habitat, and all of the creatures that call it home.
Sea Turtles in Mexico
Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide call Mexico home. The Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and the Olive Ridley can all be found on Mexico’s coasts. In Cancun and the Riviera Maya especially, both the Green turtles and Loggerhead turtles are very common. The Yucatan Peninsula offers the perfect environment for sea turtles, with plenty of beaches for nesting and nutritious feeding locations. However, with the rise in tourism, the natural nesting and feeding grounds of the turtles are at risk. As a result, turtle populations have been affected.
Protecting the Turtles
Steps have already been taken to protect the Riviera Maya sea turtles. Popular tours that once exploited tourists and turtles alike have been stopped in locations such as Akumal Bay. Even so, many visitors are still lucky enough to witness the majesty of these modern day dinosaurs. Albeit, in much more safe numbers.
Even resorts are aware of the need to conserve natural nesting habitats. Royal Resorts, for example, consider themselves ‘Cancun conservation pioneers.’ They are dedicated to providing the sea turtles with safe nesting grounds throughout the summer months. Their conservation program began in 1985 and, to-date, they have watched over nearly 7,000 sea turtle nests. That comes to a whopping 630,000 baby turtles released into the ocean! Royal Resorts has constant patrols during nesting season to ensure that they spot and protect all nests. They also provide guests with a list of rules that aim to limit the negative effects of tourism on sea turtles’ natural life cycle. Many other resort chains in the Riviera Maya also implement a similar strategy in order to protect the turtles.
Protection and Conservation of Riviera Maya Sea Turtles in Solidaridad
In the run up to the 2017 sea turtle nesting season, the local government of Solidaridad has held meetings in order to form a protection plan. So far, a total of 56 places have committed to performing surveillance of popular nesting areas. Many of these places are resorts and hotels along the Riviera Maya coast.
SEMARNAT, the ministry for natural and environmental resources, has located 3 popular nesting points. The three points have a turtle camp set up and together they make up a total of almost 15km of beach. The current focus is on communication amongst the volunteers and workers who will be performing surveillance, in order to properly cover the length of coast needed.
Steps in the protection plan include nighttime and daytime observation, the removal of sunbeds from nesting sites and the banning of reflectors in key areas. Education is also an important aspect of conservation. Throughout June, the Sayab Planetarium in Playa Del Carmen will host an educational exhibition for those wishing to learn more about endangered sea turtles. Lead by Maria Mora from the Education and Outreach Commission, the exhibition will include free lectures and activities. The aim is to educate locals and visitors alike on the struggles faced by Riviera Maya sea turtles. And, ultimately, how we can make a difference in their conservation.