Maruata and Colola, Mexico

Maruata and Colola are the largest black sea turtle nesting sites along Pacific Mexico, while the rocky outcrops of the area are foraging grounds to juvenile hawksbills.

Three species of sea turtle are known to nest on the coast of Michoacan, Mexico, the leatherback, olive ridley and black turtle. The latter has its main nesting sites on the beaches of Maruata and Colola, representing one of the most important nesting areas in the entire eastern Pacific. Management and conservation activities are carried out to protect the three species at the site. The hawksbill is the fourth species found in the área and is observed feeding on the rocky substrates in the vicinity of the Maruata and Colola reserve area. Hawksbills are often incidentally captured by fishermen in the vicinity and consist of juveniles between 30 and 40 cm in length. Considering their size, these turtles are likely entering the coastal habitats off the coast of Michoacan after spending their early years in the pelagic, open-ocean environment (the “lost years”). In collaboration with the Pomaro Fisheries Cooperative in Maruata and the turtle protection group in Colola, in-water monitoring was recently initiated in the area in order to locate and identify individuals hawksbills, thus providing information to assist ICAPO in regional conservation and research of this critically endangered species in the Eastern Pacific.

• Protect nests and record data on nesting black, olive ridley and leatherback turtles.
• In-water monitoring of hawksbills to understand abundance and generate demographic data (growth, residence time, etc.)
• Educate local fishermen about the importance of marine turtles.


  • Major increases in the number of annual nesting black turtles over the course of the project’s 20 years
  • Collaborations with local fishermen to understand hawksbill abundance at feeding grounds.
  • Raise awareness of local inhabitants on the non-consumptive benefits of marine turtles.


Conservation strategies used by this project site:

Nesting Beach Conservation

In-water Monitoring

Outreach and Education

Exploratory Habitat Investigations

ICAPO’s Role with Implementing Organization

  • Communication with other organizations (information link)
  • Joint management (planning and implementation, reporting)