Cozumel Mexico is known as having the best diving in the western hemisphere. But what many do not know is that Cozumel Mexico is also a major nesting ground for the Loggerhead and the Hawksbill sea turtles.
Different species of sea turtles like to eat different kinds of food. Sea turtles have mouths and jaws that are specially formed to help them eat the foods they like. And each species of sea turtle eats, sleeps, mates, and swims in distinctly different areas. For the most part they each have different preferences. And the turtles described here love Cozumel Mexico!
Lets start with the Loggerhead sea turtle:
Common Name: Loggerhead - named for its exceptionally large head.
Scientific Name: Caretta caretta
Description: Head is very large. Carapace (shell) is bony without ridges and has large, non-overlapping, rough scales present with 5 lateral scutes (A thickened horny or bony plate on the turtle's shell). The hard upper shell is heart shaped. Front flippers are short and thick with 2 claws, while the rear flippers can have 2 or 3 claws. These amazing creatures lay their eggs on Cozumel Mexico primarily at night.
Size: Typically 2.5 to 3.5 feet in length (73-107 cm).
Weight: Adult weigh up to 350 pounds (159 kg).
Diet: Primarily carnivorous and feed mostly on shellfish (off shore from Cozumel Mexico). They eat horseshoe crabs, clams, mussels, and other invertebrates. Their powerful jaw muscles help them to easily crush the shellfish.
Habitat: Prefer to feed in coastal bays and estuaries, as well as in the shallow water along the continental shelves of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans .
Nesting: Nest at intervals of 2, 3, or more years. They lay an average of between 100 to 126 eggs in each nest. Eggs incubate for about 60 days.
Range: Found in all tropical waters throughout the world including Cozumel Mexico!
Next we will examine the Hawksbill sea turtle:
Common Name: Hawksbill - named for its hawk-like beak.
Size: Adults are 2.5 to 3 feet in length (76-91 cm).
Weight: Adults can weigh between 100 to 150 pounds (40-60 kg).
Diet: The hawksbill's narrow head and jaws allows it to get food from crevices in coral reefs. Cozumel is of course known for these goodies!
Nesting: Nest at intervals of 2, 3, or more years. Nests between 2 to 4 times per season. Lays an average 160 eggs in each nest.
Range: Most tropical of all sea turtles.
These amazing creatures nest primarily on the windward side of the island. If you are on the island between May and October. The red sticks that you will see sticking out of the sand are where the spots where sea turtle eggs have been dug up and put in the sanctuary. In this way the environmental department will not dig in the same spot if they see turtle tracks in the sand. We just ask that when you see these red stakes sticking out of the ground, that you please leave them where they are.
Also, if you are very lucky you will see these amazing animals doing what they have done for millions of years right here on Cozumel Island Mexico: and that is their annual migration back into the sea!! If you are ever here in August you might consider attending the sea turtle workshop.
News Flash! Guest's of Casa Colonial Joe and Brenda Amaya had the exciting pleasure of taking part in Cozumel's sea turtle collection and release program. As if that wasn't enough; they found a very rare albino baby!! Albino sea turtles are blueish in color. Her is a picture of this precious wonder of nature, as well as the release of the babies:
The babies are tranported in a crate before release.
Since the albino turtles would be eaten if released into the wild this baby turtle will be cared for and pampered by the ecological department.
If you are ever on the "other side of the island" look for the sticks sticking out of the sand. Those are the locations of the sea turtle nexts! We hope that you have the best vacation ever!