08/10/2012Royal Resorts® 2012 Sea Turtle Season Is Breaking Records

Families staying at Royal Resorts® in Cancun during the summer and early fall may be lucky enough to witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles, sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach at night and weeks later the baby turtles emerging from the nests to scuttle down the beach towards the sea. Every year, Royal Resorts participates in the sea turtle conservation campaign in the Mexican Caribbean and this season is proving to be recordbreaking.

As of September 30, 647 turtle nests with 74,644 eggs had already been protected at four of its resorts and the female turtles continue to come ashore. To date, guests have helped release 38,578 baby turtles and thousands more eggs are set to hatch in the next few weeks.

The Mexican Caribbean, One of the World’s Most Important Turtle Nesting Areas
The Mexican Caribbean is an important nesting area for the green (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles and also receives occasional visits from the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest and rarest turtle to swim the oceans. Seven of the world’s eight species of sea turtle inhabit Mexican waters and lay their eggs on the nation’s beaches. They are protected under Mexican law and it is a criminal offense to persecute and hunt them, steal their eggs, consume their meat or purchase tortoiseshell products such as jewelry or combs.

Every year, female sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to lay their eggs on the beaches of Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and other parts of the Mexican Caribbean. From May to October, dedicated security staff at four of the
Royal Resorts, The Royal Sands®, The Royal Mayan®, The Royal Caribbean® and the
Royal Islander®, conduct nightly patrols in search of the turtles that scientists believe return to the beaches they were born on year after year to lay their eggs.

When they come across a turtle, they wait until she has finished digging her nest and has entered into an egg‐laying trance before beginning to collect the eggs. They stand guard over her until she covers the nest with sand and returns to the waves, then they move the clutch of eggs to the safety of a corral above the high water mark where they are protected from predators such as raccoons, seabirds and crabs and the passage of human feet. Each nest is labeled with the date and time, species of turtle and number of eggs, and members of the sea turtle protection team guard the corral round the clock. Francisco Alemán, head of security at The Royal Sands, says:
“It is an immensely rewarding experience, it is hard work but we are happy to do it, it is a real honor for us to be involved in the Save the Turtle campaign.”
Forty‐five to 60 days later, the eggs hatch and staff and local biologists prepare to release the baby turtles. Guests staying at the Royal Resorts are invited to bring their children to the turtle releases, which take place at nightfall, around 8 p.m. when most seabirds have gone to roost. After a briefing on how to hold the fragile little turtle correctly, photo etiquette (no flash photos) and release instructions, each person is given a turtle. They give it a name and say a prayer for its wellbeing and on the count of three the tiny creatures are set free. They scuttle down the beach towards the waves to begin life in the ocean. The security guards protect them from gulls and frigate birds until they disappear into the surf. For many summer and fall guests seeing a sea turtle is an unforgettable experience, the high point of their Royal Resorts vacation.

The 2011 season had already broken resort records in terms of the numbers of nests, eggs and hatchlings: the final report indicated 581 nests and 61,499 baby turtles released. With more than 34,000 eggs still due to hatch in the coming weeks it looks as though last year’s extraordinary tally will be overtaken.

Learning about Turtles
During the sea turtle season, Royal Resorts does all it can to make its guests aware of their ocean‐going visitors and the need to protect them. A documentary produced by Royal Channel, the in‐house TV station, is screened regularly and guests can read about the sea turtles in resort magazines, e‐bulletins published by Royal Resorts, on the Royal Resorts blog http://www.royalresortsnews.com and the company’s Facebook page. They learn about the dangers that sea turtles face in the wild from large‐scale fishing, shipping, seaborne garbage such as plastic bags, which some turtle species confuse with the jellyfish that are an important part of their diet, pollution, habitat loss and global warming, among others. They are also told about the nesting season rules which cover what visitors should and should not do when they come across a female turtle laying its eggs on the beach or when they go snorkeling or diving on local reefs. The rules include watching from a distance of five meters, not touching the creature and keeping quiet at all times. The use of torches and flash photography to take photos is prohibited. When turtles are startled, they will return to the sea without laying their eggs and the entire clutch of eggs will be lost.

Royal Resorts became involved in sea turtle protection in 1985 and was among the first resort groups to sign up when Cancun municipal authorities subsequently launched a conservation campaign. At state level, the turtle program is coordinated by SEMARNAT, the Mexican Department of the Environment. Local biologists estimate that The Royal Sands, The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander account for 20 percent of the hatchlings set free in Cancun.

Formal record keeping began at Royal Resorts in 1998 and by the end of the 2011 season, the statistics revealed that 4,797 nests had been protected and 367,377 baby turtles had been released, in just 13 years!
Francisco Alemán and his staff are hard at work patrolling the beaches this season as they do every year, doing their bit to protect the sea turtle and ensure its survival.
He says, “Conservation is important to us at Royal Resorts. We are protecting the sea turtle and we are devoted to our work. We involve our guests and ask them to help us too so that these magnificent creatures continue to visit us year after year.”

About Royal Resorts
Founded in Cancun in 1975, Royal Resorts is a pioneer in the Mexican tourism industry. The company has five beachfront resorts in Cancun: The Royal Cancun®,
The Royal Mayan®, The Royal Caribbean®, The Royal Islander® and The Royal
Sands® and one in the Riviera Maya, The Royal Haciendas®, five minutes north of
Playa del Carmen. A beautiful beach south of Puerto Morelos is the location for a seventh residential project in the Mexican Caribbean, Grand Residences by Royal

Resorts®, an exclusive fractional community under construction. The worldwide vacation exchange network Interval International (www.intervalworld.com) has classified the Royal Resorts in the Mexican Caribbean as Premier Resorts, the highest distinction, only awarded to properties that offer an exceptional vacation experience and state of the art services.

The Trip Advisor travel community also gives Royal Resorts its vote of approval.
All six resorts have won Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Family Awards in 2012 and feature in the Trip Advisor list of the Top 25 Hotels for Families in Mexico.
Turtle protection aside, Royal Resorts is committed to a role of environmental stewardship. Green initiatives at the resorts include recycling, beach cleaning, use of energy‐efficient lighting and appliances, environmentally friendly cleaning products and ozone pool technology to reduce chlorine consumption. The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) has certified it as a company with eco‐friendly policies, and in July 2012, three of its resorts, The Royal Cancun, The Royal Haciendas and The Royal Sands were also awarded the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ Mark in recognition of their compliance with the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainability standards, conservation and social responsibility.

In addition to its participation in the annual Mexican Caribbean sea turtle protection campaign, Royal Resorts has been a longtime supporter of conservation projects in the Mexican Caribbean. It has also been helping those in need for over 30 years and through the Royal Resorts Foundation (Fundación Royal Resorts A.C.) it seeks ways to give back to society by promoting health and education, contributing to sustainable development in the state of Quintana Roo, and by protecting wildlife.
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