Friday, June 21, 2024

Sea turtle nesting season begins in Campeche and Quintana Roo

Sea turtle nesting season is underway in Mexico with turtle sightings reported in the states of Campeche and Quintana Roo, according to the La Jornada Maya newspaper.

Last week, the arrival of an endangered species of sea turtle on Playa Norte beach on Isla del Carmen, Campeche was cause for excitement. Onlookers watched as the turtle — reported to be either a hawksbill or a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, both of which are considered critically endangered — crawled out of the sea and dug a hole before depositing her eggs.

A marker of a sea turtle nest in Quintana Roo, a popular nesting area in Mexico
Quintana Roo also reported its first sea turtle nest of 2024. (Ayuntamiento de Solidaridad)

Civil Protection authorities were notified and — with the help of beachgoers — protected the nest from scavenging birds and dogs. La Jornada Maya reported that Isla del Carmen is a popular nesting area with a high hatch rate.

Over the weekend, after the arrival of a pregnant loggerhead sea turtle on a Quintana Roo beach, the Environment Ministry (Semarnat) issued a call to the public asking for help to protect turtle nests by informing the authorities if a turtle is spotted laying eggs. 

Semarnat did not disclose the location of the first nest but did reveal that the turtle laid 65 eggs. Officials also announced the installation of a monitoring station to protect the nest.

Mexico is one of the most important turtle nesting sites in the world: six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles nest on Mexico’s beaches. Sea turtles can lay up to 100 eggs which incubate in the warm sand for about 60 days before hatchlings emerge. 

Experts say the nesting season started late this year in Mexico due to high temperatures and a lack of rain, making the sand too hot for nesting.

The Tortuguero Isla Matamoros Camp — an organization that works to protect sea turtles, flora and fauna in the Laguna de Términos region which includes Isla del Carmen – last month warned of a negative outlook regarding sea turtle nesting season in Campeche.

Rosario Velueta Benítez, the president of the Tortuguero Isla Matamoros Camp, told the newspaper The Yucatán Times that the Easter holidays would negatively impact the nesting season, saying the massive influx of visitors would compact the sand and make it unsuitable for nesting.

State authorities implemented a control and surveillance plan along the Campeche coast in hopes of preventing excessive compaction of sand by designating specific areas for bathers in order to protect nesting areas.

Last year, Mexico established two new turtle sanctuaries in Oaxaca, bringing the total number of turtle sanctuaries in Mexico to 17 in eight coastal states.

With reports from La Jornada Maya and The Yucatán Times

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