The clear waters of Akumal in Mexico’s Riviera Maya provide a gorgeous natural haven for wild sea turtles. These animals have chosen Akumal as their home thanks to its calm environment for nesting and feeding. Just offshore, you can snorkel alongside these serene creatures in their natural habitat – the perfect way to build an appreciation for the wonders of Akumal. But when you’re visiting or living in Akumal, it’s important to be aware of how your presence may affect the environment and behaviors of the local sea turtles.
It is always in the best interest of wild animals to keep their habitat and environment as natural as possible, and to avoid too much interference. In order to make swimming and snorkeling with Akumal sea turtles a happy and healthy experience for humans and turtles alike, here are the main guidelines you should follow:
1. Do not touch the sea turtles
Turtles need to be able to swim freely and come up for air whenever they need it. If a snorkeler reaches out to rub, pet, hold or grab a sea turtle, the animal might feel as if it is being harassed. They would be too scared to go back to the surface for air, and in some cases could even drown. If Akumal sea turtles feel unsafe because of this unwanted contact with snorkelers, it could cause them to avoid the area entirely; not only would this make it harder to swim with sea turtles in Akumal in future years, but it would also force the sea turtles to avoid an area where they need to feed, reproduce and escape from harmful predators.
Image source: Guillen Perez on Flickr
2. Keep your distance
Akumal Bay provides Riviera Maya sea turtles with a safe and happy environment, which is why these peaceful creatures choose to call this location their home. When snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles, try to keep at least a few feet of space between you and the turtles. By keeping your distance, you will still be able to observe and take pictures of the beautiful sea turtles in the wild, and they will continue to feel safe enough to carry out all of their natural activities like feeding and coming up for air.
Image source: Paul Joel Hancock on Flickr
3. Do not feed the sea turtles
Like any animal, sea turtles are most healthy when feeding exclusively on their natural diet. The green sea turtles of Akumal feed primarily on kelp and algae, while the loggerheads tend to prefer bottom-dwelling invertebrate. Feeding these animals food which do not belong to their natural diet could cause them physical harm or lead to unhealthy habits like seeking out humans for food.
If we want the sea turtles to continue coming to Akumal, we must respect them and help them to always feel safe and happy here. By giving the sea turtles the space and conditions that they need to swim peacefully, we can coexist with them for many years to come!