Sea Turtle Protection & Conservation Center
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Sea Turtle Conservation & Protection Center
Meet the Four Species that Nest at Our Beaches
Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the world´s most common sea turtle species, but are still listed as Vulnerable by IUCN. Historically hunted for their skin, this species has made a significant recovery in the last few decades, thanks in part to the conservation efforts of the STPCC. They represent over 98% of the turtles that visit our coast, and during peak
nesting season in stormy conditions, have laid as many as 218 nests in a single night in the Sanctuary. Olive Ridleys are omnivorous. In Spanish: “Tortuga Golfina”.
Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Careyes´ namesake, are critically endangered and represent just 0.5% of protected nests. These rare sea turtles, still hunted for their unique shell pattern, are critically endangered and represent just 0.5% of protected nests. These rare sea
turtles, still hunted for their unique shell pattern, are known as marine gardeners for the essential role they play in keeping coral reefs clean and healthy. Their specialized hawk-like beak allows them to “weed-out” sponges from in between corals, which left unchecked would overgrow and choke out reefs. We are one of the few places in the
Pacific Coast of Mexico where the Hawksbill sea turtles come to nest. In Spanish: “Tortuga Carey”.
Experts still debate whether the subspecies Black sea turtles (Chelonia mydas agassizi) merit their own species designation to distinguish them from Green sea turtles, which could afford
them higher protection. All Green/Black sea turtles are considered endangered by IUCN, but the Black sea turtle, which has a darker coloured shell and smaller head, is rarer. Black sea turtles lay less than 1% of sea turtle nests along our coast. This species is vegetarian and they specialize as grazers, keeping crucial carbon-sequestering algae,
seagrass and mangrove ecosystems healthy. In Spanish: “Tortuga Prieta”.
Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are listed globally as Vulnerable, however our East Pacific subpopulation is considered critically endangered by the IUCN. They represent just 0.2% of nests protected at Careyes. Leatherbacks play an important role in regulating multiple
marine species populations, because they specialize as predators of jellyfish, consuming up to 200kg a day per adult. Increases in jellyfish numbers are not just a nuisance for us, they reduce populations of commercially important species such as fish, shrimp and lobster as they prey on their larvae. In Spanish: “Tortuga Laúd”.