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Monday, October 22, 2012

The sea turtle management camps of Quintana Roo: history and accomplishments

Next 25th October the Marine turtle festival will start! If you are around in the Area, we recommend you not to miss it! There will be different events in different places, check the program out here! Here is an article written by the organizing committee about the marine turtle camps that every summer receive volunteers that help with this extraordinary job!!

Quintana Roo is considered a pioneer in sea turtle conservation. Beginning in the 1960s in Isla Mujeres, the first efforts were undertaken to conserve these species endangered with extinction, that for millions of years have been important visitors to our beautiful beaches of majestic white sand.

The importance of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean has been expressed through cultural and religious practices since the times of the early Maya. These underscore the cultural, economic and dietary importance that the sea turtle held for coastal communities from the Pre-Hispanic period until the en of commercial turtle fishery in Quintana Roo in 1980.

Once the sea turtle no longer served as a commercial resource and was placed under protection in the Gulf and Mexican Caribbean, various sectors of society— government, non-profits, academia, fishing cooperatives, business, tourism service providers—took action to protect and inform the public about these animals through sea turtle management camps. Six of the species of sea turtle that nest in Mexico
visit Quintana Roo: the Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback. The first two of these feed along our coasts, while the last four lay their eggs on our beaches.

A large part of the life cycle of the sea turtles is spent at sea, and is difficult to support though management activities. Nevertheless, management and protection practices have increased and improved on the nesting beaches. Through these, the nesting females, eggs and hatchlings are protected, with the goal of increasing the number of hatchlings that attain their primary purpose: to reach the sea, and so ensure greater
nesting activity on our beaches in the future.

The State of Quintana Roo has about 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) of coastline, where more than 60 nesting beaches have been identified. More than 80% of these are subject to protection, with the help of various organizations and businesses. Beginning in 1982, the beaches of Kantenah, Aventuras DIF, Xcacel, Tankah, Ojo de Agua and Lirios—the majority of these being in the Municipality of Tulum—, became
the first to establish sea turtle management camps, under the direction of CIQRO, the Quintana Roo Center for Research. Over the years the number of camps has increased along the coast, making Quintana Roo the leader in these activities.

Through our protection and conservation work, the consumption of sea turtle eggs and the slaughter of females for food have decreased. Largely through the work of non-profit organizations, there has been a significant program of awareness building in the local communities, intended to change customs regarding the traditional use of these animals.

Unfortunately, human beings have brought these turtles to the brink of extinction. However, each of us can share in the opportunity to do our own small part in order to protect them. This is the primary objective of our annual Tulum Sea Turtle Festival, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, thanks to the collaboration and assistance of public and private organizations, and the support of our patrons.

At this point it is already a tradition for the community, as the Festival has become an important event. At the Festival we publicize the results of the cooperative protection and conservation efforts of our organizations and volunteers, which have made possible the trend toward annual increases in sea turtle populations. During the Festival we present a range of cultural activities focused upon sea turtle conservation, organized by public and private institutions under the leadership of the Quintana Roo State Committee for the Protection, Conservation, Study and Management of the Sea Turtle.

The goal of the Festival is to help the community and visitors gain awareness of the importance that the sea turtle has: as a living creature with a right to exist; as an example of adaptation and survival over millions of years; and as a proud symbol of the struggle for survival. All of these make the sea turtles a symbol that makes us proud, and that makes them an important attraction for tourism in Tulum.