Everyone is talking about conservation these days, but Tortugranja (Turtle Farm) on Isla Mujeres, is actually doing something to help. Nearly all species of marine turtles are endangered, but this little organization, run by a division of the Mexican government, is doing their best to turn this frightening phenomenon around.
Visit turtles at Tortugranja before they are released into the Caribbean Sea — Photo courtesy of Susan Vincil
The first thing you'll notice about Tortugranja is it's cheap! Only 3 USD per person or 30 Mexican pesos. This small fee buys you about 30 minutes of educational fun on Isla Mujeres. After you pay the entrance fee and get your bracelet, enter the small building where you will be able to see turtles of various sizes in tanks. The farm will only be their home for a short while, as they'll soon be released into the wild. You'll also see fish, a small shark, sea horses and a very large horseshoe crab. There may be an old gentleman letting this crab caress his face. It's a little funny and a little weird, but try not to be disturbed, he works there.
Next, make your way to the outside portion of the farm where you'll find much larger turtles that live there, most with some kind of disability that would make it difficult for them to survive in the open ocean. In addition, there is a large sand area sectioned off which is comprised of many turtle nests. These nests are rescued from all over the island and brought to the farm where they can mature and hatch without being disturbed.
On your way out, stop by the gift shop and pick up a cold soda and a Tortugranja t-shirt. They carry many sizes and colors. Nesting season is May-October. It would be best to visit Tortugranja during the season.