Anyone who has had the chance to swim with a sea turtle or has seen the movie “Finding Nemo” knows that sea turtles are precious. In the Disney movie, “Finding Nemo” Squirt is a plucky green sea turtle; his father, Crush, is a 150-year-old sea turtle who speaks surfer dude lingo. Who doesn’t love sea turtles? I’ve been fortunate to swim with sea turtles in Maui, Hawaii and I’ve volunteered with ICAPO a hawksbill turtle conservation non-profit when I visited El Salvador. It’s been my dream to visit sea turtle nesting grounds and cheer on baby sea turtles as they crawl their way to the Mexican Caribbean Sea. I was able to participate in a sea turtle release program on a recent visit to Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort in Cancun, Mexico and am happy to share how you may experience this unique program, too.
Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villa & Spa has been participating in Cancun’s turtle care program since 2010. The sea turtle nesting season in Cancun runs from May to October. There are four types of sea turtles that visit their beach area; the hawksbill turtle, the loggerhead, the leatherback and, the most popular, the green turtle.
In 2015, Westin Lagunamar was able to host 212 nests on the beach in front of the resort. 2017 has been even more successful, as the hotel currently has 270 nests and there is still more time to go before the end of turtle nesting season.
The hatching season starts 60 days after the first nest is planted. Sometimes the season carries over to the next year. At Westin Lagunamar, the turtle care staff work together with the Ecologia Municipality department to help protect and preserve the sea turtles. One of the goals of the hotel is to ensure that guests and owners may continue to enjoy watching the release of the baby turtles while also maintaining their safety and security.
Members of the Westin Fun Team are on hand to help guests learn the importance of the Turtle Care Program. Due to new environmental rules and regulations for the turtle release program, guests are only allowed to watch how the baby sea turtles are released back into the ocean from the resort beach.
Need to know:
If you see a sea turtle on the beach at night, be very quiet and watch them from a distance; ideally 32 feet or more (10 meters.)
Do not attempt to get close to the sea turtle and never touch a sea turtle – we could pass along germs to the turtles or our hands might contain sunblock that would compromise the turtle.
Do not use flash to take pictures of the turtles. This is especially important with the turtle release because the baby sea turtle might become disoriented when they are headed to sea.
Do not smoke near turtles.
The sea turtles are protected by Mexican Federal Laws. It is illegal to disturb or hunt the sea turtles. Hatching dates are unpredictable and vary depending on temperature and conditions. To find out when baby turtles will be released into the ocean, contact the Westin Kids Club team.
Are you conservation-minded and do you love the outdoors? In addition to watching a Cancun sea turtle release in Mexico, you may want to consider swimming with whale sharks. These gentle giants of the sea come to Quintana Roo, Mexico to feed on plankton and krill during the same time period as the Cancun turtle nesting season. Read about how to swim with whale sharks here.
If You Go:
Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa Cancun
(52) (998) 891-4200
Boulevard Kukulcan km. 12.5
Cancun Quintana Roo, CP 77500, Mexico
Cancun sea turtle release in Mexico, video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. There is no charge to attend the turtle release if you are staying at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort in Cancun.