Turtle Season Is Upon Us!

by Tom Cochran (May 2014)

Nestings have begun with four loggerhead nests in the Akumal bays as of this writing. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of proper etiquette during this very important season. This information will be old news to many of you; I ask you please to consider this a gentle reminder. I am directing this mainly to first-time visitors and new residents who may be having their first experiences with sea turtles.

All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered. The beaches of Akumal are important nesting grounds to two of those species, the loggerhead and the green turtle. Loggerheads have already begun nesting, greens will soon follow. If you own or are renting a property in close proximity to the beach, it is very important that any outdoor lights be turned off or changed to red or amber bulbs. White lights create confusion for hatchlings and they will go toward the light instead of the sea. Nesting mothers prefer darkness and could be scared back into the ocean before laying her eggs. If you have any loungers, tables or other furniture on the beach, please move them up out of the way each night so it will not obstruct the mothers coming up to nest.

As the season progresses and gets more active, you will see people patrolling the beaches at night. They are employees or volunteers with the local organization responsible for sea turtle conservation, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA). They are highly trained and experienced in turtle conservation and know how to handle any situation. Please listen to them and follow their directions; their #1 concern is for the turtles. Sea turtles are protected by Mexican Federal Law and you must be trained and working with an organization holding a federal permit to handle turtles. If you see anything that looks out of sorts with any turtles or nests, please point it out to one of these people or contact CEA directly.

As mentioned previously, white lights scare and confuse the turtles. If you want to use a flashlight on the beach at night during the season, please use a red light or red cover for it; this will not frighten them. If you should come upon a nesting mother, stay away! Give her plenty of space and total silence. They are extremely nervous at this time and will scare easily.

We are all hoping for another record season and want everyone to enjoy this special time, but please do so within the guidelines. Should you happen upon a nesting or a hatching, it is something to be cherished and an experience you will never forget.

Tom Cochran hatchlings

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