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May 2017

Pez Maya
Turtle Monitoring at Pez Maya

Inspire volunteers to be more aware about the oceans current threats and encourage them
to spread awareness after the project.
To raise awareness about different turtle species that can be seen in the Mesoamerican Bar-
rier Reef.
By entering the data collected; making long term, sustainable contributions towards key
global and local issues.


During the month of May GVI staff reintroduced the turtling project at Pez Maya on the National Turtle
Day. Since it is the season for turtles to nest and lay their eggs on the beaches of the Sian KaAn bio-
sphere reserve, volunteers and staff of the marine conservation projects in Pez Maya are working on
gathering data of different sea turtle species during the nesting season.


Turtles are important to ecosystems health and play a vital role on coral reef conservation. All marine
turtles are either endangered or critically endangered due to overexploitation and habitat degrada-
tion. A major issue that young turtles face is human activities on or around the beaches where sea
turtles nest. When turtles are looking for places to nest, they are easily scared off and distracted by
non-natural light sources, trash or human presence. Later on when the turtles hatch, the hatchling will
get disoriented by these same factors.

Figure 1 Logger head recorded during diving

Sea turtle populations have decreased dramatically over the last decades and their future in the seas
is unsure. Therefore, this initiative aims to record and study their mating and nesting habits.
At Pez Maya, staff and volunteers have recorded sea turtles mating and they are hoping to see them
lay their eggs on their base beach. In order to record the data of these nests, the initiative consist in
that every morning a staff member takes a volunteer and patrol the beach at sunrise. Each species
makes its own tracks on the beach, as well as their own preferred nesting method. The Green Turtle
for instance, has symmetrical tracks because of the way that it walks on the sand. Other turtles such

as the Hawksbill and Loggerhead have asymmetrical patterns. A cheat sheet has been developed by
staff members, this sheet includes pictures of the different tracks and nests so that volunteers can
easily mark down in the data which species of turtles each track or nest is.

Figure 2 Cheat sheet created to recognize turtle tracks

Last year staff and volunteers saw different hatchlings around base crawling to the sea. In one in-
stance, a hatchling went all the way up the beach, to the communal area because it was attracted by
the main light. Volunteers quickly turned the light off and led the turtles in the right direction. This
year, field staff are focusing more on light use at night in order to prevent this from happening again.
The lights are being turning off earlier in base, as well volunteers are encouraged to use red light
flashlights while walking on the beach at night.
During the weekly beach cleans volunteers have started to remove large logs and natural objects as
well as trash to make the beaches more attractive for the turtles when they are looking for a good
place to nest. Turtles are very fickle and even the smallest obstruction can make them turn around
and decide to not nest there.

Figure 3 Baby turtle on its way to the ocean

By restarting this project, Staff teach the volunteers valuable lessons about marine turtle conservation
while giving them hands on experience in the field. GVI Staff and volunteers are looking forward to
finding the first nests and tracks of the season!

For more information on the projects here in Mexico, visit: