Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm

Farm in Isla Mujeres

Image by philbertson Getty Images

Although they're endangered, sea turtles are still killed throughout Latin America for their eggs and meat. In the 1980s, efforts by a local fisherman led to the founding of this tortugranja (turtle farm), 5km south of town, which safeguards breeding grounds and protects eggs. It's a small spot, with a number of sizes of turtles and a few different species. The farm is easily reached from town by taxi (M$75) or golf cart.

Hatchlings are liberated immediately, while turtles that need more care are kept in pools and later released. The turtles that leave this secure beach return each year, which means their offspring receive the same protection. The sanctuary releases about 100,000 turtles each year, but only one of every 1000 will survive.

The farm provides refuge for loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles ranging in weight from 150g to more than 300kg. It also has a small but interesting aquarium, displays on marine life and a pen that holds large nurse sharks and manta rays. Tours are conducted in Spanish. The public is not always able to watch the releases (you can ask), but the farm usually does them around 7pm from July through November. It's quite a sight to see the tiny creatures scurrying into the great big sea.