While in Mexico I had the chance to take part in baby turtle releasing on the beach. The Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa together with marine biologists that have implemented a sea turtle rescue programme to try and help the population of sea turtles in the wild.
The sea turtle release happens nightly on either the Sunrise or Nizuc beaches from May to around December. Around 6.30pm you gather down on the beach with the resort’s entertainment team and the marine biologists bring the newly hatched baby turtles down for you to release into the ocean. The reason they wait until this time of the day is because the birds and other prey which might be watching for the baby turtles are less likely to be around, it is also light enough for humans to ensure that all the baby turtles at least make it into the ocean.
So around 6pm we started to make our way down to the beach with the sun setting rather quickly and a slight breeze picking up. We met the entertainment team at the beach where they talk to you briefly about the process you will take part in. They give you some facts about the turtles and explain that the turtles have amazing GPS, female turtles will return to the exact same beach that they were released from to lay their eggs, now that is impressive. You get to know about the programme they run and why they are so passionate about it. They also tell you that only 1 in every 1000 turtles survive which is quite upsetting to think that the majority of the sea turtles they release into the ocean don’t make it. They also have a few rules that you need to stick to, you can only hold the turtles by their shell without touching their soft white bellies and you can’t touch their eyes. You must also not use flash photography, as the turtles are all new born they are have very sensitive eyes. The turtles also like light so if you are on the beach using flash to take pictures of them they are more than likely to return to the beach instead of swimming away.
Once we had been given a brief about the sea turtles you then get your first glimpse of them, everyone stands behind a roped off area to give the little guys some room to move when you let them go, they are so tiny you could easily step of them without realising. The guys from the marine biology team walked along handing out the tiny little turtles one by one. Once I had my turtle I was instantly in love, it was so tiny and his little eyes were slightly open with sand stuck to them. My turtle decided it wanted to pose for some photos which was good for me as I managed to get a few shots of our little friend. Sam’s turtle on the other hand must have thought it was in a disco, its little flippers were going crazy. We were later told their flippers go crazy because they can smell the ocean so they want to try and get there quickly.
Before releasing your turtle you are told to give it a name, everyone deserves a name right, even if you aren’t going to survive you should have a name. We decided to call our turtles ham and cheese very unusual names I know, we debated on a few but we wanted something that went together and I don’t think anyone else was going to name their turtles ham and cheese. On the other hand Squirt and Crush seemed to be very popular names, I am guessing everyone had finding nemo on the brain.
So anyway, we all released our turtles together on the count of three and ham and cheese were off. Our turtles seemed to make it all the way to the ocean together and you just stand at the side and watch, hoping that they will be one of those that survive. A few of the turtles did need a little helping hand getting to the ocean, a few got stuck in seaweed and a couple just needed a little push but they all made it in the end which made you feel a little bit better. If you watched the water you could see their tiny little heads bobbing up and down.
We walked away from this experience with huge smiles on our faces, we were so glad we took part in it and would happily take part again. In the back of your mind though you do wonder if your turtle has made it.
I didn’t really hear the hotel talk about this experience or publicise it much. It was only that we were talking to some people around the bar one evening and they asked if we had done the turtle release to which I responded I didn’t even know the hotel did this. I would have been so gutted if I missed the opportunity to take part in what is an extremely amazing thing at this hotel but luckily I found out two days before we left so I took part for 2 nights in a row. If you have a chance to take part in the turtle release while you are at the Moon Palace then definitely make sure you do it, its 100% worth it.