Cozumel Sea Turtle Rescue Brigade
All eight of the world’s sea turtle species are considered endangered, thanks to a combination of antiquated fishing practices, habitat destruction — particularly of the beaches where they nest — and a taste for turtle products that has proved hard to break in many coastal communities.
Four turtle species — hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, green, and loggerhead — nest on the shores of the Yucatán Peninsula, and until relatively recently they were a common supplement to the regional diet.
Turtles make easy prey, especially females clambering on shore to lay eggs. They are killed for their meat, fat, and eggs, which are eaten or saved for medicinal purposes, as well as their shells, which are used to make amberlike jewelry, combs, and other crafts.
Various environmental protection organizations in the Yucatán have joined forces with the Mexican government to protect sea turtles and their habitat; they have developed breeding programs and maintain strict surveillance of known nesting beaches to stop poaching. It is strictly prohibited to capture and trade sea turtles or their products in Mexico.
Travelers can do their part to protect these ancient creatures by not buying products like leather, oils, or tortoiseshell products, or foods made with their eggs or meat.
On Isla Cozumel, travelers also can volunteer to help monitor sea turtle nests and to help release hatchlings into the sea. Nesting season runs from May to September, and volunteers are welcome to join biologists on nighttime walks of Cozumel’s beaches, locating and marking new nests, and even helping move vulnerable eggs to protected hatcheries.
Hatchings are released from July to November; this typically happens at sundown and involves directing turtles toward the sea (without touching them) and scaring off birds in search of an easy meal. If you want to volunteer or donate money or supplies to this worthy cause, Blue H2o Cozumel can help you get involved. All tours must be coordinated with the Subdireccion De Ecologia on 65 ave and one can go directly to their office to inquire for current programs. It is fee based now and all payments are to The Subdireccion De Ecologia. There are several tour operators profiting from this and even one who portrays themselves as the ecology department of Cozumel with a facebook page , ONLY book with an official govt agency, CIMAC AC, FPMC or at Subdireccion De Ecologia. Online reservations are for profit only tour companies and that money does not go to the conservation of the turtles. More information can be found at this facebook site
For the 2019 Turtle rescue programs this is the information you need. If you book with some private tour company that flips tours , that money does not go back to the program. If you require assistance to reserve, email us and we will help at no cost.