Tourists Drawn to Sea Turtle Season in Tulum

Sergeant Major fishes in caribbean reef Mexico Mayan RivieraMexico’s Tulum is well known for its majestic ruins situated on 40-foot-high cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. This pre-Columbian Mayan walled city dating back to the 13th century is also home to another popular albeit lesser-known tourist attraction:  native sea turtles. 

The 2018 turtle nesting season in Tulum has officially begun with the initial discovery of a handful of nests. However, according to local reports, officials are expressing concern about the endangered species’ safety.

Existing Environmental Threats

Francisco Chan Chable, director of municipal ecology, says that Sargasso seaweed has been spotted along Tulum’s beach areas, and a large number of plastic materials have arrived with the seagrass. He explains that the plastic effectively “traps” the turtles.

Chable says another threat to the turtles is the abundance of hotels and vacation rentals in the area. Sea turtles are nocturnal animals who roam the beaches at night and are attracted by hotel food waste. It is important for hotels and guests to keep organic waste covered to discourage the attraction to the animals and reduce risk.

Riviera Maya News reports that members of the sea turtle committee are reinforcing efforts in an attempt to combat sea turtle egg looting, something that has become a reoccurring problem. Lucelly Ramos Montejo, president of the State Committee of Sea Turtles, says that they will coordinate surveillance and protection in the nesting areas that registered looting last year.

Also, many people engage in snorkeling or diving in attempts to swim with these majestic, docile creatures of the sea. It is important to remember not to touch them and remain a considerable distance away so they can swim freely and without stressors. Finally, avoid using sunscreen when doing so as the chemicals stay in the water and contaminate their environment.

Sea Turtles in a (Nut) Shell

Sea turtles have been around longer than the ancient ruins around them – more than 150 million years! Six of the seven remaining species are found in the warm waters around Mexico. And while they swim great distances around the world, the female turtles who make it to breeding age always return to the beach that they were hatched on to lay their eggs; thus, the cycle of life continues.

Between May and October, many Green (Tortuga Blanca) and Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama) turtles return to lay their eggs in the white sands of Tulum. On average, approximately 300 nests are made each season between the Tulum ruins and Turtle Bay.

Federal laws and international agreements currently protect all species of sea turtles.  Despite these efforts, they are all now classified as vulnerable or endangered.

Members of several organizations patrol the beaches each night of the nesting season, marking nests and moving eggs to a secure location if the nest is exposed. Then, when the eggs hatch, they assist the babies in navigating safely to the ocean. All in all, viewing the process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget.

Be the Hare, Not the Turtle

Due to the popularity of the spectacle of sea turtle nesting season, it is imperative to book as soon as possible to reserve your perfect vacation rental in Tulum and Turtle Bay. The Puerto Aventuras vacation rental specialists at Sea Side Reservations are ready to assist you! Contact us today and grab a front-row seat to this unforgettable ecotourism adventure.

Additional Information:

  1. National Geographic, “Searching for Nesting Sea Turtles on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula,”
  2., “Tips for Snorkeling with Sea Turtles – Updated 2018,”
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