The signs for Tortugranja were everywhere as I cruised lazily along the streets of Isla Mujeres. Curiosity got the better of me, and eventually I parked my golf cart and walked to the entrance of this Sea Turtle farm.
My first indicator that something may not be right here was with the admission price. For only thirty pesos (three US dollars) you could go in to see the turtle’s that this nature conservancy claimed to be protecting, with the money going towards that goal (so the sign proclaimed).
I gasped at the small and dirty little pools that the turtles were living in. Bare and sterile. I turned from tourist to investigator, trying to get footage to bring back and show the world.
For an additional dollar, you get a bag of pellets to feed the turtles. These pellets were mostly floating in disgusting fashion in the water, as the turtles weren’t interested in constantly eating. The sadness in their eyes, to me, looked more like a person trapped with no hope.
The unhappiness of these turtles became vividly apparent. As I was observing, two older ladies were gawking at the turtles. Being horrible tourists (and completely disregarding the signs about strictly NOT touching the animals), one of the women reached into pool to actually grab one of the appendages of the turtles, trying to swing the turtle around to face them so they could get a proper photo.
The turtle snapped and try to bite the woman’s hand. She was shocked, screamed, and dropped her phone into the pool.
I ventured outside to the ocean. They had a section barricaded off with a sharks, stingrays and more turtles.
All of the creatures were pacing along the fence line, looking for a way to escape their entrapment.
It was heartbreaking to me, but I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not you think a place like this is actually doing turtles any good.