By Shannon Collins
Known for its curving beak and distinctive pattern of overlapping scales, the hawksbill turtle is a critically endangered species found predominantly in the world’s tropical oceans. Seybaplaya (in Mexico’s State of Campeche), for example, annually welcomes back around 15 female hawksbills to the beach where they hatched. Each turtle returns to their “mother-beach” 2 to 3 times a year between June and August to lay eggs, before going back to the open ocean—where they spend the remainder of the year.
Upsettingly, plastic, amongst other contemporary environmental hazards, has had a devastating effect on sea turtle populations. Research suggests that, as a result of between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastic dumped into our oceans every year, 52% of sea turtles have consumed it at one point or another during their lifetimes. Unfortunately, awareness of our impact on turtle populations is heartbreakingly low. This is why conservation projects all over the world are essential to ensuring the survival of vulnerable species such as the hawksbill.
An example to follow
Biologist Luis Gongora Dominguez runs the nonprofit organization Yuumtsil Káak Nàab A.C. Working closely with volunteers from environmental NGO Ninth Wave Mexico, Luis travels to the beaches around Seybaplaya every evening during turtle season to survey new nests and help hatchlings safely reach the sea. Working outside the restrictions of conventional scientific methods, Luis is able to use his knowledge to determine approximately when a nest was laid and how long it will be before the hatchlings emerge. Where turtles have laid eggs too close to roads, or when nests are obstructed by rubbish, Luis incubates the eggs in his own home—releasing the babies when they hatch.
Luis volunteers his time freely, but the rubbish on the beaches is impossible for any single individual to tackle. It is essential, therefore, that communities recognize their responsibility to reduce their effect on the environment as the only way to mitigate the long term threats to our planet.
A worthy initiative
A local Campeche project, Live Green – Vive Verde, for example, is an initiative aiming to raise awareness of our wasteful use of resources. Working with local businesses, Vive Verde encourages people to rethink their habits and reduce their negative impact.
In Campeche, the success of the work done by Ninth Wave can be experienced first hand at local cafes and restaurants participating in the Empresa Verde—or Green Business—scheme. These businesses actively work to reduce their impact and embolden their patrons to do the same, helping to make a difference for the survival of marine ecosystems every single day.
It is thought that only 0.1% of hawksbill turtles survive to adulthood, making the work of individuals like Luis, and progressive projects across Campeche, imperative to ensure the perpetuity of this incredible species.
For more information on the invaluable work done by Ninth Wave, visit this page. For information on Live Green – Vive Verde, you can visit the corresponding Facebook page.
About the author:
Shannon Collins is currently pursuing an MA in English Linguistics at University College London. She volunteers across environmental organizations, as well as writing freelance for a variety of publications.
Other articles you’re going to enjoy:
Trump’s New Laws Endanger American Species Like Bald Eagles And Grizzly Bears
Here’s What You Can Do About The Fires Ravaging The Amazon Rainforest
10 Persistent Myths About Climate Change You Should Really Stop Repeating