Just over a week ago I left London and flew to Mexico. I'm out here for a month, working, travelling and learning spanish, before I head down to Central America and Cuba.
This weekend I travelled to Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort for a work conference, and while there I got involved with something very special.
It's a stunning 5-star all inclusive resort, so I assumed I would spend my weekend eating, drinking and perhaps watching a Mexican Michael Jackson tribute act! Most of these did happen... but my highlight by far was a conservation project run by the hotel which helps protect sea turtles.
Every year thousands of sea turtles lay eggs in the soft white sand of Mexico's Caribbean coast line. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she comes ashore at night, uses her flippers to dig a nest, deposits her eggs and covers with sand.
It's a strange life - after burying the eggs, she then heads back to the ocean and is unlikely to ever see her offspring. The turtle nesting season runs from May to October with each female laying around 100 eggs. Each day, the turtle conservation project collects the eggs and places them in a protected area on the beach, away from predators. 4 of the 8 species are very endangered.
It was refreshing to see a hotel working with a worthwhile project - too often resorts are keen to sell you activities to see local wildlife, and many do not have the animal's best interests at heart. This project is able to educate tourists, and make a difference.
We were each handed a baby turtle, and told to hold it by the sides as they are strong and will run away! Camera flashes were turned off as they disorientate or even blind the turtles. It was only right that we named them - mine was called Tijuana the Turtle! We then collectively placed them on the sand and watched them take their first steps towards their new life in the water. It was an incredible, and very moving sight. We watched as some struggled with basic coordination and others went the wrong way - it didn't bode well! But we were reminded that we had all made a difference - that turtle now stood a chance of making it.
Tragically, for every 1000 turtles released into the sea, only 1 will make it to full size as there are so many dangers lurking - from large sea birds swooping, to crabs, and other sea creatures. Not to mention some are just not strong enough to cope.
Earlier this year I travelled to Akumal, a beach south of Cancun which is home to a large sea turtle population. With a snorkel and flippers you can swim alongside these beautiful creatures in the wild. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. I just hope I can come back in a few years to check how Tijuana is getting on!
Find out more about the project here.Suggest a correction