It is not unusual to find caution tape on the beaches of Los Cabos during the spring and summer season.
It’s not that a crime has been committed. Instead, officials with local nonprofits have marked off sea turtle nests to protect the eggs during the key mating season.
It’s important to the future of the endangered sea turtles that tourists to Los Cabos be careful when walking on the beach in the evening to avoid stepping in the protected nesting areas.
Sea Turtle Nesting
The sea turtle nesting protection program in Los Cabos is one of the most successful in the entire world.
In fact, the program in Los Cabos has expanded in 20 years to the point where it now covers 130 kilometers, or nearly 81 miles, of the 180 total kilometers of the Los Cabos coastline.
More than 9,500 nests were protected in the last year.
Every evening, volunteers go out with flashlights to find new nests, section them off from being disturbed with yellow caution tape and then take the eggs back to a nearby incubation center where they can be kept warm until the babies erupt from their shells.
When the babies emerge from the shells, they are returned to the original nest where they then make the journey to the Pacific Ocean, where they take to the sea. The entire process takes about 45 days.
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Oliver Ridley Sea Turtles
The main sea turtles helped by the program are the Oliver Ridley species of sea turtle. This endangered species accounts for more than 99 percent of the sea turtle population in Los Cabos.
Oliver Ridley sea turtles reach maturity in about 14 years and can live generally between 30 and 50 years.
Adults typically are between two and two-and-a-half feet in length and can weigh up to 100 pounds.
While most people consider them passive animals, they are quite playful in the water and like to nip at divers. That’s why most divers tend to avoid being around them in the ocean.
Due to the conservation efforts of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program and the Los Cabos Municipal Government, Oliver Ridley sea turtles have seen a 40 percent increase in their local population compared to numbers last year.
However, that only makes up for a small increase in an animal population that has been decimated by 30 to 50 percent worldwide over the last decade.
The greatest risk to Oliver Ridley sea turtles is climate change, direct harvesting of eggs, four-wheel ATV riders, and by catch in fishing gear.
The Oliver Ridley turtle population in Western Mexico, including Los Cabos, is considered endangered.
How Tourists Can Help
Los Cabos tourists can, first and foremost, help by making sure to steer clear of the nesting sites marked off by signs and caution tape.
They can also make a big impact by not bringing dogs to the beaches of Los Cabos during the nesting season, and if they must, make sure the dog is under control and on a leash.
While the Sea Turtle Protection Program receives important support from the Los Cabos Municipal Government, they are always on the lookout for great volunteers to help with the program.
Volunteers are needed, especially in the evenings, to help locate the nesting sites on the beaches of Los Cabos and mark them off with yellow caution tape for protection.
Additional trained volunteers are then needed to carefully collect the eggs to deliver them to the incubation centers for the 45-day period.
They then can volunteer to bring the babies back to the nests where they were found to enable them to make the journey back to the sea, completing the mating cycle.
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