Baby Sea Turtle Release at the Ritz Carlton Cancun

18 Aug

Step out onto a quiet beach in Cancun and the Riviera Maya on a summer night, and you just might spot a female see turtle laying her eggs in the sand. This summer alone, I’ve had several friends mention that they’ve seen sea turtles laying eggs at night on several beaches in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Lots of development and activity, however, has made local beaches unsafe for the turtle eggs, and many resorts are now looking for a way to restore balance by finding the turtle eggs and giving them a safe home until they hatch. The hatchlings are then released into the Caribbean to try their luck on their own.

I was recently invited to the very first Baby Turtle Release of the 2011 season at the Ritz Carlton Cancun. Even though I’ve been living here 6 years, it was the first time I’d witnessed one! PR Director Paulina Feltrin gave me a tour of the beautiful hotel and explained about their Turtle Camp, run by Juan de Dios.

The Ritz Carlton has been helping the baby turtles for more than 13 years! They patrol the beaches at night searching for nesting turtles, then recover the eggs and bring them to safety at their Turtle Camp, where they can rest safely for 45 to 60 days until they hatch.

Each mound of sand is a nest of turtle eggs, labeled with info like the type of turtle and predicted hatch date.

The baby sea turtles are always released in the evenings to increase their chance of survival from predators, although it’s estimated that only 1 in every 1,000 sea turtles will survive to adulthood.

After a glance at the Turtle Camp, Paulina led me down to the beach area, where a large crowd of Ritz Carlton guests had gathered to share the experience.

It was a beautiful and peaceful evening, perfect for a turtle release.

I could feel the air abuzz with excitement and curiosity. The adults were snapping photos (note: no flash allowed!) while the kids were peering into the basket of sea turtles as Paulina explained the process. Sea turtles were then passed around to guests, who were careful to hold the baby turtles by the sides of their shell.

And then… they were off!

Some of the baby turtles were super-speedy, swept away by the gentle waves within seconds. Others took a bit longer, but eventually made it to their destination… the Caribbean Sea.

I couldn’t help but notice how tiny and fragile they looked compared to the waves, and I wondered what adventures they’d have on their first night in the sea.

Fun Fact: Many locals rely on sea turtle nesting habits to determine how strong hurricane season is going to be. This forecast is generally more accurate than human weather forecasts! Rumor has it that according to nesting sea turtles, 2011 is not going to be a strong hurricane season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

16 Responses to “Baby Sea Turtle Release at the Ritz Carlton Cancun”

  1. Jackie August 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Last October I saw a turtle release for the first time in all the years that I have been going to Isla Mujeres. My SIL managed to worm his way up to the front of the crowd and held a baby and released it. He was in tears because he said that was something he wanted to do all of his life. A totally awesome experience just watching it.

    • gringation August 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      Wow, beautiful story! It really is a one-of-a-kind experience.

  2. Nikki August 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    What a wonderful experience! I’ve always wanted to do it. Good to hear about the hurricanes. I have a friend getting married in November North of Cancun and I was a little worried for her!

    • gringation August 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

      We’ve had pretty nice weather so far… June had a lot of rain, but July and August have been pretty sunny and dry. No hurricane warnings yet this year 🙂

  3. Harri August 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    This is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. They’re so tiny and adorable! It’s so horrible to think that such a small number of them survive, but what a beautiful experience, getting to see them begin their journey in the big wide world! xx

    • Gypsyphilosophy August 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

      I’m so jealous…Does this happen every night? I’m living in Cancun and watching a sea turtle release has been one of my long time goals. Amazing!

      • gringation August 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

        Hi Gypsy! It happens many nights from August through November. Lots of hotels have it and I’ve heard of groups meeting up at Playa Delfines to do it. You have to keep your ear open for opportunities though.

    • gringation August 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

      I know, the small number really saddened me, but I guess that’s the magic of nature at work.

  4. Ang August 22, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    That is so awesome! What a wonderful experience for you and everyone that was there!

    • gringation August 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      It really was. The kids especially loved it!

  5. (FL) Girl with a New Life August 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Very cool. You will have to let me know if that Ritz Carlton is any good. Maybe I will stay there one day.

  6. Julie M. August 24, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Very neat! We were just up in ocean city MD last week and saw several turtle crossings along coastal highway. I’m hoping they have the same type of program up there; I would hate to think of all those little turtles crossing over a busy 4 lane thoroughfare!

  7. Kathryn August 25, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    Awesome! I have only seen this on TV, but it looks like an amazing experience. The baby turtles are so adorable! I am shocked at the number of nests out there, and the fact that they take the time to label every one. Very cool.

  8. Ceri September 6, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    I would absolutely love love love to witness something like this. Love turtles … but baby turtles? Awwwwwwwww.

  9. GRRRL TRAVELER September 21, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    What a wonderful event to get to go to! So does that mean baby turtles are orphaned at an early age? It sounds so sad that they have to find their way on their on in the large sea.


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