A Banamex Tradition: Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico
By Luis Alonso Martinez, Community Relations, Banamex October 17, 2013 02:43 PM
Getting back to nature and helping sea turtles has been a Banamex tradition for eight years and such a popular one that 1,000 employees applied to volunteer at this summer's Sea Turtle Conservation & Community Development program. Over the years, the program has been developed in partnership with the Mexican government and local communities where the sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
Mexico is home to seven of the world's eight species of sea turtles, which makes preserving these animals a key priority for our country. In a scant eight years, 513 Mexican and U.S. volunteers have donated 34,880 hours of service to set up 13 sea turtle camps across Mexico, preserved and protected 16,241 sea turtle eggs and released 34,764 baby turtles into the sea.
That's eight generations of turtles we've launched into the ocean! This year, we began a two-year commitment at the Chenkan camp in Campeche, which is on the Gulf of Mexico. Eighty-two employees volunteered 9,700 hours placing the eggs in artificial nests and released 1,200 newly-hatched baby turtles into the sea.
What's it like to volunteer at a Sea Turtle Conservation camp?
During the day, we work to improve the observation station of the CONANP (National Commission for Protected Natural Areas), the government entity in charge of protecting sea turtles. This is where the scientists and volunteers, from Mexico and around the world, live during the project.
• Construction work to maintain the turtles' nesting areas to ensure the rescued eggs are protected from predators. In addition, they make new artificial nests and level the sand so turtles have a clear path to lay their eggs.
• At night, volunteers divide into groups and patrol more than 15 miles of beaches, watching for the turtles to emerge from the sea and lay their eggs.
• Volunteers must be very quiet and wait for the turtles to finish and go back to the sea before carefully placing the eggs in coolers and carrying them to artificial nests in the camp. They finish at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., exhausted but happy!
• Field trips into the sea to count, measure, and weigh young turtles that live in water near the shore. Volunteers also installed GPS trackers and barcodes to monitor turtles' routes in the ocean over the course of their lives. (Something we've never done before!)
"We are so pleased with the Banamex volunteers who have supported the conservation program. Their commitment, passion and energy inspire us to continue our efforts." - Adriana Laura Sarti, Sea Turtle National Conservation of the Mexican government
Other team successes this year:
• For the first time, the program was linked to Citi's Green Team and has been recognized by the Secretary of Environment in Mexico, who is laddering our efforts up to national and international impact, with the inclusion of Banamex Citi Volunteer program in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
• Measuring carbon emissions of the program in an effort to minimize our carbon footprint.
• Created 164 community development activities - raising awareness about sea turtle conservation and giving local residents the opportunity to be involved in the study of the species, including workshops offering financial and environmental education.
While we are proud of all we have accomplished to date, we are far from done. There are a total of 500 camps all over Mexico and our long-term goal is to positively impact each - a large undertaking, but we're up for the challenge, and it's worth it.