Photo: Projects Abroad
Photo: Projects Abroad

Sea turtle hatching season in its final stretch. As of July, there were 800,000 eggs along the Yucatecan cost. Now, the environmental agency SEMARNAT reports a count of around 600,000 baby turtles.

Protecting the turtles is a national project, but in Yucatán alone there are nesting camps in Celestún, Sisal, Progreso, Alacranes, Telchac Puerto, Dzilam Bravo, Las Coloradas and El Cuyo.

In July, 6,528 nests were documented on the Yucatan coast; only 55 are in the camps with the rest “in situ,” where the turtle came to spawn.

A single turtle can lay eggs three or four times in the season; each egg incubates 60 days under the sand. Sea turtles here have been a protected species here since 1990. While precise population figures are unknown, this concerted effort to protect nesting turtles has been considered a success.

But their numbers have have been impacted by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as the chemical oil dispersant sprayed afterward.

Of eight sea turtle species surviving in the world, seven exist in Mexico and four nest in the coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula: Green Turtle (Chelonia Midas), Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

They live in the water except when females come ashore to nest and lay eggs two to four times between April and July. Although agile in the water, she is slow and awkward on land, and therefore vulnerable to predators. They are killed for meat and leather; their eggs are taken for food and sold as aphrodisiacs — one person was recently arrested when they were caught with hundreds of eggs for sale in the Centro.