In a time where coastal development and tourism is skyrocketing, environmental authorities in Mexico have stepped forward to protect one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the Caribbean. The federal government has put a stop to plans to build a 520-room resort north of Tulum where the nesting site is.
The resort would have consisted of 23 buildings and an artificial lake just inland from Xcacel beach.
The Environment Department issued a statement released a statement saying the project would threaten Xcacel, which they referred to as “the site with the largest observed nesting of sea turtles on the entire Yucatan Peninsula.”
The beach is a nesting area for loggerhead, hawksbill and green sea turtles, and sections of the beach are protected. However, the property adjacent to the beach has been eyed by real estate developers for the last 20 years. Environmental authorities had already denied a prior “eco-hotel” project there.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are seven different species of sea turtles, including the green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and olive ridley turtles. While the olive Ridley sea turtle is the most endangered, all are treated due to coastal development, pollution and poaching.
“Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster, and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years,” the WWF says.