Sea turtles have inhabited our planet for many years, it is believed that since the Jurassic they already existed, this is more than 250 million years ago.
There are 8 species of sea turtles in the world of which 5 come to spawn in Mexico, all are in the category of Endangered Extinction; particularly the Kemp’s ridley turtle, which is the smallest species of all and the only one that nests during the day. Besides being an endemic species of the State of Tamaulipas.
It is now recognized that the success of sea turtle conservation depends on the active participation of communities in conjunction with authorities, scientists and non-governmental organizations. The main objective of protection programs should be to produce healthy offspring, which have a better chance of surviving, growing and increasing populations.
The Lepidochely kempii or olive ridley turtle, is the smallest sea turtle in the world, adults can measure around 52 to 74 cm with a weight that ranges between 32 to 50 kg. It has a relatively large, slightly triangular head up to 13 cm wide. They feed mainly on crabs, shrimp, mussels, and fish.
It has a typically gray dorsal coloration in immature individuals that becomes light olive green in adult individuals. The belly is white in immature and yellow or cream in adult individuals.
The carapace is relatively short and wide, giving it a fairly rounded and almost circular appearance compared to other species of sea turtles. Carapace scutes may be slightly overlapping in juvenile individuals. The rear fins have 2 nails, while the front fins can have 1 or 2. Males have most of the external sexual characteristics of sea turtles, such as a longer and more robust tail with the cloaca in a more distal position, more curved nails. and a softening of the plastron during the mating season that facilitates copulation (Brongersma, 1972).
In the State of Tamaulipas, the first Tortuguero camp was established in 1966 along with two others, one in the state of Guerrero and another in Jalisco, and since then a program for the protection and conservation of the species has been carried out. main objectives:
- Protect the biological cycles of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) on the beaches of the state, through proper monitoring and management of the species, as well as other species of sea turtles that come to nest on our shores, such as the Green turtle ( Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta).
- Withdraw from the lists of endangered species through conservation and protection work.
- Recover the olive ridley (L. kempii) population in its nesting and distribution area.
In addition to the protection activities, the recovery, protection and release of specimens stranded on the beaches of different species of sea turtles affected by fishing activities, predators or exposure to extreme temperatures is also carried out.
Figures from the nesting season of 2017 in the turtle fields of the Government of the State of Tamaulipas
- The Fishing: Protected Nests of Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) 518, of Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) 229. Released hatchlings: Lora 38,330, Green 10,145.
- Tepehuaje: Protected nests of Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii) 2,291, of Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) 352. Released hatchlings: Lora 137,028, Green 4,605.
Results of protection activities: Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii)
The state’s marine turtle protection program has managed to significantly increase the Kemp’s ridley population, in addition to the fact that Tamaulipas is home to part of the green turtle population of the Gulf of Mexico, one of the only green turtle populations in the world that have been constantly increasing.
SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION CENTER
The State Government, through the Tamaulipas Parks and Biodiversity Commission, in collaboration with the Gladys Porter Zoo and the advice of SEMARNAT, remains active each season with two camps in the municipality of Soto la Marina, Tamaulipas, called Centro de Conservation and Protection of Sea Turtles Tepehuaje and Center for the Conservation and Protection of Sea Turtles La Pesca.
The function of the turtle camps is to ensure the protection and conservation of the species, through the protection of nesting females and their nests in order to achieve a greater number of offspring, which allow improving the expectations of conservation of the species, implementing standardized conservation and management techniques, adequate and applied to the turtle camps of La Pesca and Tepehdamientos, which allow obtaining results comparable with other regional or foreign protection centers, and also collect reliable scientific data and information, with the necessary methodologies to carry carried out research, protection and conservation work on sea turtles.
The work area that corresponds to this camp is 47.1 km. To the north from the mouth of the Soto la Marina river and to the south to Barra del Carrizo in the municipality of Soto la Marina.
Operation of the camps
The camps must be in operation throughout the year, focusing the activities on the season that arises. These activities being dry boat tours during the winter and beach tours during the nesting season in summer, in addition to the activities inherent to each season, such as the assembly and disassembly of the corrals and the general maintenance of the camps, being able to extend the operation of these by research work and / or awareness campaigns.
Each camp will be made up of a person in charge or manager, technical-operational staff, and temporary workers.
During the months of March to August, supervision and observation tours are carried out in the case of the olive ridley and green turtle in the months of July to September. During the months of January and February there will be a tour every third day and a daily tour in case of low temperatures to monitor the beach in search of stranded or hypothermic turtles.
In the case of an arrival and with the intention that the collected eggs remain outside the nests for the shortest possible time, an ATV will be designated that will be dedicated exclusively to transportation to the incubation pen.
Upon finding the trail of a turtle in the sand and after having found the nest, it will be marked by passing over it with the wheels of the ATV to mark it as a trail that has already been reviewed by the CCPTM staff. The trail will not be marked if the nest was not located and you are not sure that it does not contain eggs.
The nests found will be unearthed and deposited individually in sacks and transported to the incubation pen. The empty nest hole will be marked with a stick or piece of wood to indicate that it has already been checked and collected.
Sea Turtle Conservation Center, La Pesca, Soto La Marina.
Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays in June and July from 6:00 p.m.
The releases of olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) hatchlings open to the public are subject to the hatching of nests naturally, meaning that there is the possibility that some Saturdays they will not take place.