Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the December 15, 2005 Newsletter written at Hacienda San Juan Lizarraga one kilometer east of Telchac Pueblo, Yucatán, MÉXICO
and issued from Hotel Reef Yucatan 13 kms to the north

A week ago about 50 Mexican sea-turtle specialists, mostly academicians and administrators, met here to discuss the sea turtle situation. The local paper did a story on the meeting and from that and other sources I learn the following about the Yucatan Peninsula's sea turtles.

In terms of providing sea turtle nesting sites, the Yucatan is the planet's fourth most important location. Five of the Earth's eight sea turtle species nest or feed here. Our three nesting species are:

# Carey (also called Hawksbill)
# Green
# Caguama (also called Loggerhead)

The fourth and fifth species nest on other Mexican shores but can be found feeding here. They are:

# Kemp's Ridley
# Leatherback

A few Newsletters back I mentioned finding a small, dead small sea turtle on the beach here. Apparently many such dead turtles are turning up. The assumed cause is their getting caught in fishermen's nets. Of course sea turtles, being reptiles, breathe air, so, if they are caught in a net and can't surface, they'll drown. When you see how many fishermen in the waters off Hotel Reef tend their nets you wonder that any escape.

Large numbers of sea turtles are also killed here intentionally. The Carey, described as being in critical danger of extinction, is killed mainly for its shell, while the White is killed for its meat.

Along the Yucatan Peninsula's beaches about 30 known nesting zones are monitored by volunteers. Over the last 15 years about 45,000 nests have been identified both for the Carey and the White. These ±90,000 nests during this time have held some 12,500,000 eggs from which more than 8,000,000 baby turtles have been hatched.

More info about sea turtles, including distribution maps and estimated numberers for each species is at http://www.cccturtle.org/turtle-information.htm.