The 60km of beach in the Rio Lagartos Bio-Reserve is one of the three most important nesting sites for Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles worldwide.
The turtle photographs(unless noted) are by Santiago Manzanilla Castro,a field biologist,who was working for CONANP,and has studied turtles in the Rio Lagartos Reserve and on Arreceife Alacranes for 3 years.
Santiago was responsible for a 22 km section of beach during the nesting season that begins in mid April and continues into November.The number of nests along this stretch of beach can vary from 800-1500 depending on the number of returning turtles.
Nightly from 9.00 til early morning,the work involves recording the arrival of the turtles,tagging recording the location of new nests,egg counts and after about 2 months a count of hatchlings.
The females will lay from 80 to 150 eggs on average(with a maximum of 250 recorded)in nests dug about 1 meter deep in the sand and then covered and mounded with sand.The optimum hatch is nearly 90% with all conditions perfect.Interestingly, the sex of the hatchings is determined by the temperature conditions of the season.The warmer the season the greater % of females.
The average Green turtle measures 1.15m and weighs 100kg ,the largest measure about 1.5m and weigh 200kg The average Hawksbill is 90cm and weighs 70kg.The largest measure 1.15 and weigh 100kg. Loggerheads and Leatherback turtles (up to 2m) are occasional visitors.