Sea turtle hatchlings at risk when high season begins

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After decades of declining numbers, sea turtle populations in Yucatán are improving but are not out of the woods quite yet. Photo: Courtesy

With Easter Week, or Semana Santa, about to begin, Yucatán’s beaches prepare for high season.

But holiday crowds on the coast make for a perilous time for Yucatán’s endangered sea turtles and the eggs they lay near the high-tide line.

Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan A.C. is raising funds for an ongoing project that helps protect 500,000 sea turtle hatchlings they estimate are in peril.

Pronatura says that 79 kilometers of nesting beaches on the Yucatán Peninsula are the habitat for endangered hawksbill and green sea turtle hatchlings from an average of 2,358 nests.

Video: Brave baby turtles scramble for dear life

“We conduct daily night surveys during the seven months of the nesting season to protect these nests from depredation, poaching, and wave-action, and increase their chance of survival,” according to Pronatura’s page at

As of today, 105 donors collectively gave over US$11,000 toward a $30,000 goal. A gift of US$150, for example, protects 100 nests and helps pay to feed “six hungry technicians” hired by Pronatura to oversee the habitats.

In Yucatan, eight turtle camps are managed by the Secretariat for Sustainable Development (SDS), Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY), the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) and the Center for Technological Studies of the Sea (Cetmar), supervised by Semarnat.

Semana Santa is the most sacred week of the Christian calendar, starting with Palm Sunday on April 1 and followed by Easter Sunday on April 9. And until school lets out this summer, Holy Week also represents each year’s first big crush of tourists who spend their vacation time along the coast.

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