June 2013 Pez Maya, Mexico New Turtle monitoring program begins in Pez Maya

All marine turtles are currently listed on Appendix I (species threatened with extinction) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Turtles face a wide variety of threats throughout their lifecycle both natural and anthropogenic. Threats from a variety of predators are present from animals such as crabs, fish, dogs, sharks and jaguars along with threats from fishing, habitat degradation and pollution. There are seven species of marine sea turtle in the world, four of which have been noted to nest on the beaches around the Sian Ka ’an biosphere reserve. Flora, fauna y cultura de Mexico is an NGO that has been monitoring and tagging three of the four species that hatch in the Quintana Roo state for the last 10 years, however the monitoring programme has run for over 30 years now!; the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Figure 1: A Loggerhead turtle making the nest bed.

Figure 2: A female laying eggs into the chamber

Figure 3: Baby turtles emerging from the nest

GVI, working in close association with Flora, fauna y cultura de Mexico and Amigos de Sian Ka’an are conducting night patrols on the beaches of San Juan and day patrols on Yuyum in the Sian Ka’an reserve, south of Pez Maya beach. Data is collected regarding the turtle species and length and width of the carapace. Volunteers also look for tags, mutilations, diseases and autografts visible on the turtle. Turtle nests are examined to ascertain the numbers of eggs and relocated if necessary to prevent flooding from the tide. Within the next month the nests will begin to hatch and volunteers will begin excavations to determine hatching success and mortality rates. In the past month 35 loggerhead nests have been recorded and we hope to see many more!

To find out more about the Pez Maya expedition visit http://www.gvi.co.uk/programs/sea-turtleconservation-mexico