Mexico Relocates Sea Turtle Eggs Ahead of Hurricane Beryl

July 4, 2024 by No Comments

In light of past inadequate hurricane preparations, Mexico has taken the unprecedented step of evacuating even sea turtle eggs from beaches in anticipation of Hurricane Beryl.

While Beryl is currently far out in the Caribbean, it is projected to make landfall south of Cancun by late Thursday or early Friday.

Following the insufficient response and evacuation efforts for residents of Acapulco during Hurricane Otis in October, officials are exercising heightened caution this time around. They are meticulously digging up newly laid sea turtle eggs, fearing they could be swept away by storm surge.

Government personnel have carefully placed the carey sea turtle eggs, covered in sand, within numerous coolers for relocation to safer areas.

In other locations, they have strategically constructed sandbag barriers to create secure “corrals,” safeguarding turtle nests against the anticipated powerful waves.

Graciela Tiburcio, a prominent sea turtle expert in Mexico, acknowledges that this extreme measure may result in a higher rate of egg failure to hatch.

“While not ideal, it’s a necessary precaution in this emergency. If they don’t remove the eggs, they could all be lost,” explained Tiburcio, who is not directly involved in the effort.

Various sea turtle species routinely nest on the beaches in and around Cancun, laying their eggs in the sand. Hatchlings emerge weeks later, instinctively crawling towards the sea. Typically, human intervention is discouraged to avoid disturbing the nests, as the sand provides the optimal temperature for hatching.

Furthermore, sea turtles are believed to rely on natural beach lighting for orientation, often returning to the same spot as adults. However, Beryl’s waves and storm surge could easily sweep the eggs out to sea, rendering hatching impossible.

“Under normal circumstances, this action wouldn’t be appropriate as it would undoubtedly lead to increased mortality,” stated Tiburcio. “There will be a lower hatch rate, that’s the reality. But leaving the nests in place would mean losing all of them.”

The Cancun municipal environment department has not yet responded to inquiries regarding the safekeeping location of the relocated turtle eggs. However, a social media post from the office confirmed the removal of over 10,000 eggs from approximately 93 nests.

Carey turtles, like all sea turtles, are classified as protected species in Mexico. Removing their eggs, once a common practice for consumption, is now strictly prohibited.

The focus extends beyond turtles: further south in the , in the fishing village of Punta Allen, soldiers, police, and marines are strongly urging the 700 inhabitants to evacuate their homes completely.

Punta Allen is situated on a narrow strip of land south of the resort town of Tulum.

One resident of Punta Allen, requesting anonymity, revealed that many residents, approximately half the population, are resisting the evacuation calls.

“They’re demanding everyone leave Punta Allen…but people are unwilling,” she shared. “They lack financial resources and are reluctant to abandon their belongings.”

Adding to the difficulty, the government is offering free transportation out but doesn’t provide rides back after the hurricane passes.

Many in Mexico have long harbored distrust towards the government’s disaster preparedness efforts, citing a lack of enforcement of zoning and safety regulations and minimal pre-storm preparation.

Acapulco is still grappling with recovery efforts following the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Otis in October. The storm claimed at least 52 lives and caused extensive damage or destruction to most hotels.