A blog by Pro Dive International
Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.
The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.
Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.
The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.
6 Turtle Fun Facts
- Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
- Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
- Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
- Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
- Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
- The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.
Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.
Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.
Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.
Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:
- Centro Ecológico Akumal – an NGO with a 28-year history
- Punta Sur Eco Beach Park – a 247-acre ecological park in Cozumel
- Sea Turtle Conservation Project Tulum by CONAP/ Flora, Fauna y Cultura de México
Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.
Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.
- Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
- Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
- New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
- Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
- Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.
All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.
How to start your Turtle Adventure
Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09/21 & redeemed until Dec 22, 2021 with reference to this blog!
Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel
A blog by Pro Dive International
*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*
Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?
Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.
While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.
TOP 5 Party Guests
1. Basket Stars
These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light.
The perfect party costume, do you agree?
2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid
These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.
Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?
Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.
Up for a dance?
Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!
How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?
For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.
As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light.
This makes the perfect party glitter!
Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!
How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?
- Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
- Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
- Contact us for guidance.
Celebrate International Manatee Day by helping Manatees near and far
Help manatees near and far on Tuesday, September 7th, International Manatee Day. Save the Manatee Club, the world’s leading manatee conservation organization, encourages boaters, homeowners, and caring manatee lovers to play a role in protecting manatees and their aquatic habitat.
At this time of year, manatees can be found in all kinds of waterways around the southeastern U.S., from freshwater rivers and lakes to saltwater coastal areas, estuaries, and canals. With the holiday weekend bringing busy boat traffic, boaters are urged to boat slowly in posted manatee speed zones and watch carefully for manatees on the move.
“Manatees prefer shallow waters that are rich with vegetation,” explains Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director for Save the Manatee Club. “When we are boating or recreating in their aquatic habitat, we must take care not to disturb them and especially not to hurt them.” Blunt impacts from accidental watercraft collisions are a leading cause of manatee injuries and mortalities in Florida.
However, it’s critical aquatic habitat loss that is the greatest long-term threat to the manatee’s survival. Save the Manatee Club asks homeowners to do their part to protect aquatic habitat by not fertilizing their yards, especially during the rainy summer season. Fertilizers and other yard chemicals can enter waterways and fuel the harmful algal blooms that kill seagrasses that manatees and other species need to survive. “What you put on your yard affects their lives,” says Rose.
Write to your elected officials to urge them to help manatees in Florida at savethemanatee.org/algae#tips, then learn more about manatees around the world. Save the Manatee Club donations have supported West Indian manatee conservation efforts in Belize, Mexico, and the Wider Caribbean as well as West African manatee research in Senegal and Cameroon. They have also sponsored rescues and health assessments for the elusive Amazonian manatee in Peru and Venezuela. Read more and donate to the International Rescue Fund at savethemanatee.org/international.
Responsible boaters, homeowners, and manatee advocates all play an important role in protecting manatees at home and abroad. Here’s a quick list of resources to review that can help anyone be a voice for imperiled manatees:
- Report sick, injured, orphaned, or dead manatees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) by calling 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). Watch informative videos and get resources for your state at savethemanatee.org/rescue.
- Obey posted speed zones, wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on the water’s surface, avoid boating over shallow areas and seagrass beds, stash your trash, and never touch, feed, or give water to manatees.
- Request free tip cards, waterproof boating banners, waterfront signage, and other resources from Save the Manatee Club at savethemanatee.org/resources.
- Take a break from fertilizer and learn other tips that reduce pollution at savethemanatee.org/algae.
- Educators – gear up for the school year with free materials and a virtual guest speaker presentation from Save the Manatee Club. Visit savethemanatee.org/education.