The Cancun Turtles Blog

On the CancunTurtles blog we publish information on our current work, facts and background details about the sea turtles, personal opinions of our volunteers and guest posts that have been submitted to us (If you would like to share your “turtle” story, please get in touch with us!).

Quite frequently we are getting this question form the visitors to our protection corral when they see that some nests have a little wire mesh ring around them. Due to the high temperatures we have had this year so far it impacts the incubation time of the nest in such a way that already after 51 to 52 days of depositing the eggs, we have the baby turtles hatching.
Recently we were lucky to have some Green Sea Turtle and Hawksbill Sea Turtle hatchlings at the same time; so we are happy that we can show you both in comparison. On the cover photo above the Green See Turtle is on the right, on the left you see the much smaller Hawksbill baby. From head to toe, ups better from head to little tail the Green Sea Turtle hatchling measured 9 cm (3.5 inches), the shell was 5.5 cm x 4.5 cm (2.2 in x 1.8 in), while the measurements for the Hawksbill baby were 7.5 cm (3 inches) in total length, shell size 4.5 cm x 4 cm (1.8 in x 1.5 in). Both were quite big fellas for their species. Even when they are adults this size difference remains.
So far we only had one nest with baby turtles hatching. This nest was deposited by a beautiful Loggerhead Sea Turtle (named Marisol) on the 19th of May and 55 days later we had the first hatchlings of the 2016 season. There has been literally a one month’s break as we only observed the arrival of the next turtles from the 23rd of June onwards.
The last few days we have been super busy at the beach at night. Lots of sea turtle moms coming ashore looking for a place to nest ... unfortunately also lots of incorrigible, disrespectful and ignorant national and international visitors scaring these sensitive animals away. Nevertheless, during the night from Friday to Saturday we could collect 7 nests, Saturday to Sunday night 15 nests (it was so great), Sunday to Monday night another 10 nests and last night 6 nests.
As you know May and June of this sea turtle season have been a disaster, but in July numbers of nesting females actually picked up quite nicely. And today the Secretaria de Ecologia, which is responsible for the Sea Turtle Protection Program here in Cancun, published some interim results that I would like to share with you and compare to ours: As of end of July 2016 in total 534 nests are protected along Cancun’s beaches – from these we collected and guard 111 nests (minus 1 that already hatched) in our protected nesting area; that’s over 20% of the total
Our first nest was from a Loggerhead Sea Turtle that deposited 96 eggs on the 19th of May. 55 days later we discovered in the evening the first hatchlings in the nest and over the following days a total of 93 Loggerhead babies emerged. According to established procedures we open up the nest about 3-4 days after the first “birth” to look for remaining critters and clean up the egg shells and other organic matter.
Everybody following us here or on Facebook knows that this year’s nesting season in Cancun is a catastrophe. So far we have a decrease in nesting females of nearly 90%. But even in bad times sometimes an unexpected silver lining brightens the mood. And exactly this happened last night when we observed the birth of our first baby turtles of the season. While busy attending a nesting turtle on the beach we were surprised by the newborns escaping the nest and moving about in our protection corral. The nest was supposed to hatch around the 18th of July... In the end we could release 63 little Loggerhead hatchlings from our nest no.1. This was once again such an amazing and rewarding experience.
This year’s sea turtle season is so different from the one last year. The arrival of the first nesting marine turtle in mid-May left us so excited that we couldn’t wait to get started. But then for weeks no more turtles. Night after night we were patrolling the beach waiting for the mother turtles to finally come to nest; and were disappointed each time. At least until last week. Finally, there was some movement on the beach and soon afterwards the first Green Sea Turtle of this year (the species that provides over 95% of all sea turtle nests here in Cancun) laid their eggs. By now we don’t have the 100 nests in our corral like last year, but we are very happy to finally see Sea Turtles swimming in the ocean nearby and a few coming ashore looking for suitable nesting sites.
After the so exiting first turtle arriving on the beach the 19th of this month it has been absolutely quiet. We have had no signs of turtles at all until last night where after many hours patrolling up and down the beach we finally discovered some very promising impressions in the sand. The turtle did not stay to make her nest and seemed to have been scared off by someone walking on the beach (unfortunately an all too common problem). From the impressions that the turtle left behind we could determine that it most probably was a smaller Loggerhead or even a Hawksbill turtle as both leave asynchronous flipper marks as they move over the sand.
Today in the early morning (around 4.00 am) the first sea turtle of this season came ashore on "our" beach and nested. The Loggerhead Sea Turtle measured 90 x 82 cm and laid 96 eggs. Even though we were completely taken by surprise and haven't build our protected nesting area yet, we will of course take care of the nest and will hopefully have litt