In Baja Sur we don’t have the regular seasons, but we do have our own special seasons, which we eagerly expect every year. From late August until early December we are all looking forward to turtle season, when Baja’s turtles come home to lay their eggs and when we get the chance to participate in one of greatest pleasures: the release of turtle hatchlings to the ocean. And from December to the end of March we are excited about our whale season. Baja’s clorful nature and wildlife offers many possibilities to experience the pure life and to become part of some of the most beautiful things in life. Watching the whales breeding in Baja warm waters, swimming with the dolphins, or releasing baby turtles into the ocean are just some of our daily pleasures.
The coast along the Baja California peninsula and the sea of Cortez is home to five of the seven species of the world’s sea turtles; Hawksbill (Tortuga Carey), Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama, Amarilla o Cabezona), Leatherback (Tortuga Laúd), Green Turtle (also Black Turtle, Tortuga Prieta, Negra o Verde) and most abundant of all the species of sea turtle, Olive Ridley (Tortuga Golfina). All of them are endangered and four are ecologically extinct. Non profit organization ASUPMATOMA (The Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja) is one of the companies formed to address the main threats to turtles survival. Often you can see their members on the beaches of Baja Sur oranizing a release and short educational seminar for children and by-passers who participate at the release of baby turtles.
While releases of baby turtles are still quite often, the releases today are much rarer than they used to be. Poaching, incidental captures in fishermen nets, collection of eggs and meet for consumption, coastal development and ocean pollution are some of the most threatening factors to turtle extinction. That’s why we mustn’t drive on the beaches, as we might run over turtle eggs! Sea turtles mature very slowly and live very long lives. They need to reach 20 to 30 years of age before they are sexually mature and able to reproduce, and most sea turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay their eggs.
Me and my colleagues and friends often participate at the release of baby turtles. It is a very emotional event, very exciting, and a very important event of Baja nature. The group of people gathers at the beach, each of us gets a baby turtle, we draw a line, and then we put our turtles on the sand and cheer them up so they can reach the ocean fast and safely. If you’d like to join us at the upcoming turtle releases, please contact our Los Cabos concierge Patrick (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), and he’ll be more than happy to organize your participation at the release of baby turtles to the ocean.
The Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja (ASUPMATOMA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the endangered sea turtles of Baja California Sur, Mexico, and the overall environmental sustainability of Los Cabos’ beautiful beaches, lands and surrounding communities.
ASUPMATOMA was founded more than 18 years ago by René Pinal, a prominent real estate investor and conservationist in Cabo San Lucas, along with a team of biologists and local residents to address the pressing environmental issues facing Los Cabos. In particular, the organization is a leading worldwide advocate of the preservation of the endangered sea turtles, which are now at risk of destruction in the Sea of Cortez region due to rapid land development, pollution, and illegal hunting and fishing practices.
For nearly two decades, at Pinal’s Rancho Punta San Cristobal estate, a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of environmentally protected beaches and lands (located along the Pacific Coast of Baja approx. 15 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas), ASUPMATOMA has saved tens of thousands of sea turtles in the wild and hundreds of thousands of baby sea turtle hatchlings along the beaches of Los Cabos. In addition, Pinal’s natural lands protect more than 17 other species in the area, some of which are also endangered.
Did you Know?
- The Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest, deepest diving, and most migratory, wide ranging of all sea turtles, weighing as much as 2,000 pounds.
- Sea turtles are the last of our world’s ancient reptiles, and have existed for more than 200 million years, even when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
- Five out of seven of the world’s sea turtle species (all listed as endangered, threatened or vulnerable by international treaty and the U.S. government) inhabit the nutrient-rich waters that surround the Baja California peninsula.
- Each year, throughout the Baja California Peninsula, it is estimated that 35,000 sea turtles are illegally hunted and killed.
- While several million green sea turtles once existed worldwide, today, it is estimated that fewer than 200,000 nesting females remain.
See the entire turtle release photo gallery here.