Turtles have been swimming in the oceans of the world since dinosaur times. Only during nesting season do they come on shore, and then just for a few hours in the middle of the night.
Photo credit Allen McGregor
The Yucatan Peninsula beaches along the Caribbean coast (known as the Mayan Riviera) are historic nesting sites for sea turtles. (From Punta Venado to the Sian ka’an Biosphere).
Akumal in particular, which means “place of the turtles” in Mayan language, is a privileged spot. That’s why Akumal is also a great place to go diving with turtles.
The nesting season for sea turtles in Mexico is May to October.
One of the amazing things about sea turtles is that when they are ready to mate and lay eggs, they return to the beach where they were hatched. Apparently sea turtles can recognize their natal beach by its smell. Mating is done in the ocean. Only the females come on shore. When a female turtle is ready to lay eggs, she swims to shore, sniffs the sand, and, if it smells right, pulls herself up the beach with her large front flippers. Once above the tide line, she uses her front flippers to dig a shallow pit for her body. Then, using her back feet, she digs a hole about 18 inches deep. Then, lowering her tail, she begins to drop her leathery, ping pong sized eggs. A female turtle may nest several times a season, laying about 100 eggs.
About two months after eggs are laid, the baby turtles, which are the size of a silver dollar, hatch and scramble to the sea.
All seven sea turtles species around the world are classified as endangered due to pollution, human activity and global warming. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. In Mexico, they have launched various initiatives as well as a preservation program to save the Green sea turtles. For more info you can check on: Flora Fauna y Cultura de Mexico and Centro Ecologico de Akumal
*Photo from Allen McGregor– titled “Sea Turtle at Akumal Beach Mexico” on Flickr