Record results in protecting the Hawksbill Sea Turtle: 78 Nests & Over 750 Hatchlings

Welcome to the Campeche Turtle Project Mid-Season Report. Plastic Oceans International has been extremely privileged to be a part of this amazing community-based program during the 2020 nesting season. It’s been an honor to put our resources to work in protecting the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle, in the Gulf of Mexico, supporting the amazing efforts of two local NGOs: Yuumtsil Káak Náab and Ninth Wave Mexico.

For the past several years, they have worked diligently to create a program that uses turtle conservation as a gateway to multi-level community engagement. In addition to the invaluable work to protect the turtles and their habitat, efforts also include plastic reduction initiatives, beach cleanups, youth and adult education programs, research, political advocacy and cultural events. 

The nesting results this season, which started in May and run into September, have been nothing short of stellar, as we move past the midway point.

“It’s been a record-breaking summer for turtle nests in the Seybaplaya area,” said Luis Gongora Dominguez, the lead biologist on the project. “The support from Plastic Oceans International and Ninth Wave Mexico has enabled us to fully monitor all of the nests, all of the time, and thus maximize protection, which means more hatchlings are reaching the ocean at, or soon after, birth (for the weaker ones).”

Thus far, the nest count has expanded to 78, with over 750 hatchlings successfully making their way to the Gulf of Mexico. Both figures are all-time highs for the project’s eight-year history, which is significant given that there are still several weeks to go.

“Hats off to Luis and the entire teams at Yuumtsil Kaak Naab and Ninth Wave Mexico,” said Tod Hardin, Chief Operating Officer of Plastic Oceans International. “This is a great success story and a perfect example of our Living Blue philosophy, which believes that we can, and must, act locally to impact globally.”

Hawksbill Sea Turtle baby - Campeche Turtle Project

A Hawksbill Sea Turtle hatchling begins its journey to the sea, in Seybaplaya.

The nesting habitat is spread across four locations in the coastal community of Seybaplaya, with other components also taking place in nearby Campeche City, which is the capital of Mexico’s Campeche State. 

“In particular – and despite the pandemic – with the new partnerships in place, we have really been able to spread the message throughout Seybaplaya as to the work that is being done and the incredible natural wonder that citizens have right in their backyard,” said Gongora.

It has indeed been a great success thus far, but there is more work to be done. We are still in need of raising about $1,200 to fully fund all of the efforts on the ground for the remainder of the season, which will include:

  • Continuing the turtle and habitat conservation, including incubation and monitoring for higher risk nests
  • Further development of educational material to be used in youth and adult programs
  • Purchasing supplies needed for beach cleanups at the nesting habitat, with the cleanups to be done after the nesting ends and the pandemic subsides enough to do it safely
  • Creating signage that informs the public about the habitat and allows them to better act responsibly
  • Pre-planning and equipment purchases for the Plastic Oceans research work that will begin in the 2021 nesting season – to monitor levels of plastic pollution in the habitat and also how it is affecting sand temperatures (warmer sand, means more females are born)
  • Post-nesting-season public information campaign, both locally and globally
Turtle education in Seybaplaya, Mexico

Luis conducts an education session with youth in Seybaplaya, Mexico.

We hope you have enjoyed this Campeche Turtle Project Mid-Season Report. We could not be more pleased with the results. We thank all those that have donated thus far, and we ask that others consider a nominal amount of giving to help us get to the finish line. Please consider a donation to help protect the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle.