Things To Do In Cabo
One of the highlights for most kids who visit Cabo, is the
Turtle Release Program. Most releases take place in the fall which coincides with
the annual whale migration and youngsters are invited to participate in
co-operation with the local conservation programs.
The main turtle species represented in the program are Olive
Ridley turtles and Leatherback turtles. Olive Ridley females nest in Los Cabos from June through December,
Leatherback females from November through February.
After a two
month incubation process, hatchlings claw their way out of the nest and
instinctively head straight towards the sea. Unfortunately, many are eaten by
birds and crabs before they reach the water, and those that do make it often
fall prey to fish. Increasing beach development is also a major problem, as they
are programmed to head of the brightest light – normally the reflected light
from the sea. However, lights from hotels and beach homes disorient the baby turtles
and draws them away from the relative protection of the waves. Nursery
programs have therefore become hugely important for sea turtle survival rates
because from every batch of eggs laid by the female, only one or two will survive
to maturity and return to breed on the same beach that they hatched.
Turtles are protected by Mexican law and those protected in the
Baja are; Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Eastern Pacific
Sea Turtles can take 30 years to grow to sexual maturity as
is the case with the Pacific green turtles and many can eventually grow to
300-400 pounds! Unfortunately even today with these protected turtle nurseries
there is a great deal of education and enforcement necessary to ensure their
survival. Mexicans for many years depended on eating Sea Turtles (Cahuama as it
is called in Spanish) and it is believed that eating the blood and oils of the
Cahuama brings great health and virility, making it difficult to change some people’s
minds. Tradition is ever the enemy of conservation.
One of the most popular and well organized releases is operated by Hilton Los Cabos and you can find out more about that here.
The largest overall Sea Turtle protection and
conservation programs is operated by Grupo Torugeo de Las Californias (Sea Turtle
Conservation Network). Grupo Tortugeo A.C. was founded by Wallace J. Nichols a
researcher of sea turtles from the U.S. He started this organization to educate
by holding meetings with the fishing co-ops even in the smallest and more
remote areas of Baja as to the need to protect the turtles.
The other main program is run by Asupmatoma Asociacion Civil and is a volunteer
organization started in 1995 that handles the protection of the sea turtles by
moving their eggs to a protected breeding area north of Cabo San Lucas, by the
water desalination plant in front of the Diamante Golf course. They take the
eggs from various turtle nests at night and transplant them to this location
for gestation. The different nests are marked with dates, quantities of eggs,
expected hatch date and when ready the staff dig up the nest, remove the
hatchlings and prepare them to be released immediately by the many willing volunteers.
Volunteers such as your kids!