SEA TURTLES IN RIVIERA MAYA
The season for turtle nesting starts from spring and ends in September in the Riviera Maya. During this time a score of sea turtles come ashore on the beaches of Riviera Maya to lay eggs. And you know something amazing about these turtles? Well it is absolutely fascinating that female turtles come all the way to lay their eggs at the exact same spot they were born! According to experts and turtle researchers, sea turtles navigate their way through the use of earth’s magnetic field. It is what helps them to successfully find their way around.
Female turtles can lay up to 200 eggs at one go. The mother makes sure that the eggs safely land on a soft layer of sand. They first do some digging a few meters away from the beach then they lay their eggs, bury them and swim away. Upon hatching, it is a struggle for newborn turtles to crawl their way to the water and swim away.
A Dangerous Journey
It is quite difficult for baby turtles to safely reach the waters and swim away. And that is because there are many predators on the lookout. Apart from that, baby turtles are also hunted by poachers as well. And this is why the only option left to them is to slip by unnoticed and undetected.
Turtles face plenty of risks during their early age, which is various turtle species are now on the verge of becoming endangered. However, they are efforts being made by the SEMARNAT (secretary of the environment) and several ecological centers in the Riviera Maya to protect these species.
6 out of the Total 7 Turtle Species in the World are Found in Mexico!
Did you know that there are just 7 total species of turtles in the entire globe? Six of which are only found in Mexico. While diving or snorkeling, we can often meet 3 of the 6 species of sea turtles in Riviera Maya. And they are:
- The Green Turtle
- The Loggerhead
- The Hawksbill
Recognizing the Three Sea Turtles
The Loggerhead: Loggerhead turtles are reddish-brown and have big heads. These species of turtles can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh just over 400 pounds. Their main source of food is small crabs, jellyfish and mollusks.
The Green Turtle: Green turtles are large and have a carapace that is up to 3 feet in length. These big turtles can weigh up to 350 pounds and can have different colors for their carapace, most of which include shades of green, gray, black, brown and yellow. Another interesting thing about them is the fact that they are carnivorous when small, eating small fish – but as they grow up they become herbivorous. Their main source of food is plankton, seaweeds and seagrass.
The Hawksbill: Hawksbill turtles can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh up to 180 pounds. They are called hawksbill because of the way their mouths are shaped – which resembles the beak of a raptor. These turtles have enigmatic designs for their shells, which can vary in color.
The sea turtles of Riviera Maya are fast becoming endangered and the number one danger to them is none other than human beings. It is unfortunate, but it is true. Many people visiting the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, especially Riviera Maya riddle them with plastic waste (plastics bags, straws, etc.) The turtles confuse the plastic with jellyfish, and upon consuming thinking it is food, they suffocate and die.
It has become considerably important to protect the beaches of Riviera Maya, like the one at Akumal, in order to protect the turtles.