The season is here! The pristine stretch of beach in front of Pueblo Bonito Pacifica and Sunset Beach Resorts in Los Cabos is preparing to host its 20th annual Sea Turtle Sanctuary.
In 2003, Pueblo Bonito Resorts launched the Sea Turtle Conservation Initiative. They were pioneers in the hospitality industry in Cabo, establishing measures to protect turtle nests from threats. The essence of the programme is to help turtle hatchlings return to the sea, increasing the chances of survival for this endangered species, which is vital to the local ecosystem.
Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts, in partnership with Quivira Los Cabos, has championed the turtle protection and release programme. This resort community is committed to educating both residents and visitors about conservation, especially the release of hatchlings from protected nests.
Carlos Villalobos, who runs the resort’s sea turtle protection programme, started as a security guard at Sunset Beach in 2003. In 2008, he travelled to Costa Rica to assist the Caribbean Conservation Corporation’s (CCC) Green Turtle Programme, a renowned research organisation.
“In those two decades, we’ve protected about 16,000 nests and released over a million baby turtles into the ocean,” Villalobos said.
From a modest 83 nests protected in 2003, they now protect over 2,000 nests each season. Villalobos says proudly, “The programme has borne fruit, especially with the olive ridley turtle population showing a promising recovery.
Soon, adult female turtles will complete their annual migration to the tip of the Baja peninsula to nest and lay their eggs. Once the nest sites are recorded, they’ll be protected until the hatchlings emerge, with barriers erected to protect them from threats.
Eggs laid now are expected to hatch in December, according to Villalobos. Los Cabos also welcomes black and leatherback sea turtles, the latter of which are massive, measuring seven feet and weighing over 2,000 pounds.
By the end of the year, thousands of tiny hatchlings will make their daring dash out to sea. Their vulnerability makes them prime targets for predators, so helping them on their journey is paramount.
Villalobos emphasised the integral role of turtles in marine and coastal ecosystems, noting their importance in maintaining the health of resort coastlines.
He went on to explain that turtles support both beach and marine ecosystems. A decline in turtle numbers would adversely affect both of these environments in Los Cabos. Without turtles, dune vegetation would be deprived of essential nutrients, leading to weakened dunes and beach erosion, which would be detrimental to tourism.
This season, visitors to Los Cabos can experience the magic at Pueblo Bonito resorts. They offer the chance to join the conservation team and escort the hatchlings to shallow waters, increasing their chances of survival.
The exact time of hatching remains unpredictable, so there’s no set release schedule. However, when hatching begins, the Ecological Programme Manager will inform the resorts. Enthusiasts can then attend the release, which takes place at sunset. Witnessing the hatchlings’ journey to freedom on the resort’s beaches is a heartwarming experience, a true act of helping nature and preserving vital ecosystems.