Magazine For Isla Mujeres Charities

Photo by Tony Garcia

Whale sharks, Turtles, & Rays, Oh My!

By Ronda Winn Roberts

From May 15 to September 15, tour boats take people to swim with these gentle giants who visit the Isla Mujeres area to eat plankton & fish eggs. The official tour price is $125 per person. You must wear a life jacket or a wet suit & only 'reef friendly' sunscreens are allowed.

Before It's Too Late - Whale Shark - Gypsy of the Deep

Link to this video, by Storyteller Media

Annual Whale Shark Festival

Amigos of Isla Contoy have educational exhibits at the Whale Shark Festivals.They have done many conservation, recycling, and educational activities on Isla Mujeres over the years.There is usually a parade and children's costume contest as part of the Festival.
 Whale Shark Links

LINK to Wild Chronicles ~5 min professional video from Isla Mujeres explaining how they are collecting data from photos taken by people who swim with the whale sharks.

HERE is a collection of FAQ's about whale sharks, including how to tell males from females. (Males have 'claspers' at their pelvic fins (there's a photo), and the largest specimens are often females.)

HERE is advice on photographing whale sharks, and organizing a professional shoot of them in Isla Mujeres, with nice photos.

HERE is an article analyzing research done about the migrations of whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico & the Caribbean, across several years

Manta Rays & Whale Sharks, Isla Mujeres
Video by DM Arturo Pena (LINK)

 Large groups of rays visit the blue waters of the whale shark tour area (Aguas Azules), since they are also filter feeders with similar diets.

The video below of leaping rays isn't from Isla Mujeres, but this phenomenon occurred off the east coast of the island for a couple afternoons, several years ago. There was a line of them parallel to the shore, leaping and flipping. People were stopping along the coastal was an unusual sight & went on for a few hours. LINK to video below

Turtle eggs

They take ~60 days to hatch & the majority found in Isla Mujeres are from Green turtles (called Blancas in Spanish). The second most common are the Loggerheads, and scarcest are the Hawksbills. In 2013, 165,000 eggs were protected in Isla Mujeres.
Below: At MaraVilla Caribe B&B, eggs being taken to the Tortugranja  Photo by Ronda Winn Roberts

 Below: Turtle nests incubating at the Tortugranja. The signs tell the type of nest, the beach it came from, and the date. Photo by Tony Garcia


Turtle Release
These take place on the east side, at dusk, at Media Luna beach or Guadalupana beach, when the surf is not too rough. Photos By Diane White Daniel


 Wrong-Way-Mama Adventures

July 17th 2013 * MaraVilla Caribe B&B
The Wrong Way Mama dug this nest, hit rock, and decided to try again, but she headed west, toward the house, where there is no deep sand. Photo by Diane White Daniel
That is the 'egg tube' where they deposit the eggs. I saw the nest from the balcony at first light, and went downstairs  to check if those were exposed eggs or rocks, & to see what the neighbor's dogs were barking at. Photo by Bruce Roberts.

When I stepped out of the sliding glass door, onto the patio, to see why the neighbor's dogs were barking,  I did not expect a giant snakelike head right by my foot! Her body was around the corner, and we both froze. She looked tired and she was breathing heavily.
She rested while I was tricking the dogs into going inside.

Heading back to the sea!

She took a wrong turn and had headed south, toward some rocky ledges where she was likely to flip. (It happens occasionally along this stretch). We tried to get her to veer east toward the beach, without luck. She was moving surprisingly fast for a turtle. photo below by Diane White Daniel

Below you can see her path. Photo by Bruce Roberts

At this point we are trying to keep her from going off at the highest part of the ledge & helped her as she dropped over, so she didn't flip. She appeared unscathed & swam away as the sun rose. (In the previous couple weeks, guests & friends had helped the turtle guys flip two mamas off their backs, nearby.) Photo by Diane White Daniel

Swimming away as the sun rises

Two days later, mama digging a nest
In 2013, more than 100,000 hatchlings were released; it was an exceptional year. So there were more late mamas caught out at dawn, which is unusual.

July 19th 2013 *  MaraVilla Caribe B&B

Tracks from other mama turtles who'd already come and gone that night

We're watching her from the roof of MaraVilla Caribe B&B, at sunrise

She gave up without laying and returned to the sea.

Miscellaneous turtle track shots in June & July 2013, on the neighbor's beach

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