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Turtle Nesting Season

Aug 17, 2022

If you look closely in the sand outside Pueblo Bonito, you may notice the tracks of nesting turtles or those of intrepid little hatchlings making their way to the sea. It’s turtle nesting season again in Los Cabos, and all along the Baja Peninsula—a precious time between August and November when female sea turtles crawl up onto the beach right in front of our resorts to lay their eggs. As beautiful a spectacle as it is to witness, however, Pueblo Bonito Resorts & Spas assume responsibility to protect these endangered species. That’s why we’re taking the opportunity to share the magic of this seaside miracle and the role we’re playing to ensure it continues.

It takes a mere six weeks from the time a mother tortoise lays her eggs until the baby turtles, or hatchlings, are born and crawl against the odds to the sea. The most common turtle species found in Los Cabos is the Olive Ridley, but they’re joined by Leatherbacks, Loggerheads, Hawksbill, and Green Turtle varieties, too. The Olive Ridley is the smallest on the Pacific Coast, weighing in at an average 50 kg while the leatherback can weigh as much as 1000 kg. We’ve seen them all around Pueblo Bonito properties, and all of them require the same, specific circumstances to complete their inaugural trip to sea safely. Unfortunately, five out of seven indigenous species are facing extinction. However, we can help, often in very simple ways. Here are a few things you need to know:

Turn off the flash: Something as simple as the flash on a camera can be life-altering for a hatchling– a creature that relies on total darkness to create a veil of safety. Don’t give-away their location to potential predators.

Don’t touch them: The first 15 minutes of a hatchling’s life are sensory-specific; they register everything in their environment in order to solidify memory enough to return in 10 years to lay eggs as adults. Any unnatural exposure during this time compromises their “map-making” ability. So, if you do spot a hatchling, make sure their path is clear of other animals and tourists.

Don’t buy them: You may see baby turtles for sale in a pet shop; don’t be tempted. Buying them as pets increases demand to take them from the wild illegally. Mexico’s federal government has passed and enforced legislation aimed at protecting sea turtles from fishing threats and more considerate commercial development that would destroy nesting habitat. But, education for individuals remains critical.

Fortunately, local governments in Mexico are supporting sea turtle protection efforts, too. So much so that many have created sea turtle conservation programs, and by the early 2000s, many of the region’s hotels, resorts, restaurants, and organizations joined in, creating The Los Cabos Sea Turtle Protection Network. For nearly 20 years now, Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts and Quivira Los Cabos have participated in these crucial ecological efforts, notably its turtle protection and release program. Since its inception, the network has protected and released more than 2,500,000 olive ridley, leatherback and brown turtle hatchlings, and we here at Pueblo Bonito are very proud of our staff and guests’ part in that. To give you an idea of the professional field work going on behind the scenes, our project leaders share the following:

Our field work consists of patrolling the beach– either on foot or in a vehicle
(ATV)-- to carry out the monitoring and nesting census, as well as egg collection, sowing clutches in the corral, monitoring sand temperature, releasing hatchlings, cleaning nests and preparation the corresponding records to integrate our database. Specific equipment and tools are essential to completing these tasks and only trained field technicians can do it. This season, there were a total of eight people authorized to carry out these activities: four at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach hotel, two at the Quivira golf course, and two at the turtle camp.

It’s worth noting, turtles aren’t simply “cute” returning guests to the resort; their
vital roles in two ecosystems–beaches and marine systems– offer us a meaningful lesson in ecology: everything is connected. If sea turtles become extinct, both the
marine and beach ecosystems in Los Cabos will weaken. Sea turtles use beaches
and the lower dunes to nest and lay about 100 eggs per nest. Dune plants, in turn,
use the nutrients from decomposing turtle eggs to strengthen and grow. Without the turtles, dune vegetation would begin to disappear, and in time, cause the beaches to erode. We can’t afford to let this fragile environment fall into the sea.

If you’re interested in learning more about our conservation program or are hoping to view a hatchling release (these tend to occur in October and November), be sure to stop by our concierge for more information.

Book your fall Cabo trip today!