Populations of female endangered sea turtles return to Cabo San Lucas beaches for the first time this year — marking the official kickoff of the 2008 sea turtle season

SAN JOSE DELCABO, MEXICO, July 16, 2008 "“ Each year in July marks the beginning of sea turtle season along the beaches of Cabo San Lucas when female endangered sea turtles start returning to shore to nest and lay their eggs. The first group of endangered female sea turtles of the year were reported on the beaches just two weeks ago, reported René Pinal, the long-time owner and operator of a non-profit organization called Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja (ASUPMATOMA).

For nearly two decades, Pinal, a long-time environmentalist and real estate investor, and his non-profit group ASUPMATOMA, have been dedicated to protecting the area's endangered sea turtles and environment on his private 2000-acre nature preserve located just 15 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas along the Sea of Cortez. Pinal's estate, the San Cristobal Nature Preserve, is in fact the last private protected nesting beach for endangered sea turtles in all of Los Cabos due to the continued development that has been taking place throughout the region in recent years.

Each year, Pinal and his non-profit organization save tens of thousand newborn baby sea turtles along the Los Cabos shorelines from coastal development, pollution, and illegal hunting and fishing practices, which have largely contributed to the demise of these endangered species. Last year, alone, ASUPMATOMA protected 562 nests with a total of 59,361 eggs, resulting in the birth of 41,684 newborn baby sea turtles that were then released to sea.

"This is a very exciting time of year for us because in just a few months, usually at the end of September, we will be able to watch the birth of thousands of endangered baby sea turtles as they hatch from their eggs and make their way to sea for the first time," Pinal said. "Witnessing this annual event is a truly remarkable experience for local residents, children and tourists, alike, who participate. People travel from all over the world to our preserves every year to see the baby sea turtles hatch from their eggs and help release them to the ocean."

The endangered sea turtles, which have lost most of their habitat in the Los Cabos area to hotels and resorts that now cover the shoreline, as well as become victims of illegal hunting and fishing, beachfront lighting and pollution, can still find shelter at Pinal's estate, which is the last standing private preserve for endangered sea turtles.

The San Cristobal Nature Reserve is open to the public year round. However, the sea turtle season takes place from July 15 to December 15, and the best times to actually witness newborn baby sea turtles on the beaches is between September and November. Those who are interested in participating in ASUPMATOMA's 2008 sea turtle rescue tours can contact Baja and Beyond Tours at 866-558-3180 or www.bajabeyond.com.

ASUPMATOMA, which stands for the Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja, is a non-profit organization founded by Sr. Rene Pinal, a prominent real estate investor and environmental activist in Cabo San Lucas, along with a local team of residents and biologists. For over 18 years, ASUPMATOMA has been protecting endangered sea turtle populations in the Los Cabos area and the Sea of Cortez through the kind generosity and participation of its sponsors and volunteers, which include Dr. Scott Eckert at Hubb’s Sea World Research Institute, Mexico National Institute of Fisheries represented by M.C. Laura Sarti, Jose Luis Sanchez Amezcua/The Baja News (Cabo San Lucas), the Westin Regina Hotel, and many others.

In addition to providing sea turtle conservation, research and educational programs, ASUPMATOMA is a committed worldwide advocate of the fight against irresponsible land development in Los Cabos, which is continuing to take its environmental toll on the region's natural habitat, beaches and surrounding communities. For more information about ASUPMATOMA, or to get involved, please visit www.savetheseaturtles.org