Sunday, July 21, 2024

Cancún officials save sea turtle eggs from approaching Hurricane Beryl

With Hurricane Beryl bearing down on the Yucatán Peninsula, Cancún officials are moving to protect residents from the oncoming hurricane — even Cancun’s resident sea turtle eggs.

Municipal workers canvassed Playa Delfines — a beach in Cancún that is a protected area for sea turtles, who lay their eggs there — and dug up 93 nests, collecting approximately 10,400 eggs, according to a statement posted on social media.

A Styrofoam cooler filled with sea turtle eggs with a Cancun official's hands inside the cooler
Cancún officials carefully placed the sea turtle eggs in coolers for transport. (Benito Juárez City Council/X)

In late spring/early summer, several protected species of sea turtles come ashore in the Cancún area to lay their eggs in the sand. People are warned not to disturb the sea turtle nests, as the sand keeps the eggs at ideal hatching temperature.

The eggs collected Wednesday were placed in dozens of coolers and covered with sand before being moved to safer spots. Municipal officials did not say where the eggs would be stored during the storm, which is expected to arrive on Thursday night or early Friday.

Biologist Graciela Tiburcio, one of Mexico’s foremost sea turtle experts, told the Associated Press that the removal operation was risky. However, she recognized that the situation is an extraordinary one.

“In a normal situation, this would not be right, because [Hurricane Beryl] will surely cause mortality,” Tiburcio said. “There will be a lower rate of hatched eggs; that is the reality. But it’s also a reality that if the nests are left there, they’ll all be lost.”

In other areas of the beach, teams were using sandbags to build corrals around the nesting sites to protect them against the expected strong waves and the storm surge.

Cancún officials being extra cautious

After facing criticism for failing to prepare adequately for previous hurricanes — Mexico was faulted for doing very little to warn or evacuate residents of the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco ahead of Hurricane Otis last October — the federal government is being more proactive.

Three young men standing in the water on the shore of a Cancun beach as the waves crash on them.
Although government officials in beach destinations along Mexico’s Caribbean have issued warnings for people to evacuate to shelters ahead of Hurricane Beryl, those warnings are not always being heeded, as this photo taken on Thursday on a beach in Cancún attests. (Elizabeth Ruiz/Cuartoscuro)

Soldiers, police and marines were actively encouraging residents along the Caribbean coast to evacuate their homes and head to government shelters.

Not everyone was heeding the advice, however. The Associated Press reported that half of the population of Punta Allen, south of the resort of Tulum, were ignoring the suggestion to evacuate.

“They’re asking everyone to get out of Punta Allen … but people don’t want to leave,” said a resident who asked to remain anonymous. “They don’t have any money, and they don’t want to leave their possessions.”

One reason for resisting the advice, the same resident said, is that the government allegedly offers transportation to the shelters further inland but does not provide transportation back home.

With reports from Record and The Associated Press

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