There are very few things as precious as holding a baby sea turtle. These adorable little creatures are extremely fragile and only one to two percent will make it through their first year. If you are planning a visit to Puerto Vallarta between June and January don’t miss the chance to help baby sea turtles and be part of a hatchling release, which is a magical experience.
Given how susceptible they are to predators, very few baby sea turtles will make it to adulthood. That is why the federal government in Mexico and several non-governmental organizations have stepped in to help with protection and conservation efforts of sea turtles who are considered endangered.
In Puerto Vallarta, the Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp (Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates) is part of Red Tortuguera A.C., a non-profit civil association, that works with Puerto Vallarta’s local government to protect sea turtles in the area.
Mexico is visited every year by six of the seven species of sea turtles who come to lay their eggs on the very same beaches that they were born on. Olive ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, green and black turtle nests are found on many of the beaches in Jalisco and in Nayarit. Since many of the nests are found on the beaches in front of the hotels and resorts, the resorts are also involved in sea turtle conservation and work together with environmental experts during the hatching season. Olive ridley nests are the most common in the region and spawn the most laying on average between 80 and 120 eggs.
Conservation efforts help hundreds of thousands of baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean. However, since they are air breathing reptiles, once they swim into deeper waters, they have to surface to breathe. This exposes them to a list of predators including sea birds, gulls and frigatebirds who spy on the turtles and scoop them up from the water’s surface. In the ocean they are susceptible to carnivorous fish such as snapper, rockfish and grouper, who prey on them.
What can you do to help?
The good news is that there is a way for you to help the plight of the baby sea turtles on your next vacation to Puerto Vallarta.
Hotel Mousai guests have the opportunity to volunteer at the Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp located approximately a 45-minute drive away from the Garza Blanca Preserve. The Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp will tailor a volunteer program to fit your schedule with a minimum one-week commitment. The schedule could be during the hours that suit you best whether morning, afternoon or night. The nest patrols happen during the night.
The nesting season lasts from June until January and the best way to ensure these eggs survive incubation is to volunteer and help move the nests further inshore. A donation is requested. For more information about the volunteer program, contact Jose Antonio at +52 322 263 0249 (he speaks English). Mention that you are a guest of Hotel Mousai and ask him to tailor a volunteer program to fit in with your holiday plans.
Whether you are a solo traveler or here with friends or your partner, this is an enriching experience and a great way to get involved with sea turtle conservation.
Some of the jobs that volunteers help with are collecting sea turtle eggs and taking them to a safe place to complete their incubation period. The turtle camp also needs help in the nursery or giving information to tourists.
Once the baby turtles hatch, you will have the opportunity to participate in a release. You will name your turtle and make a special wish for it before it makes its way into the vast ocean. It is truly an unforgettable experience.
If you plan on visiting Puerto Vallarta during sea turtle nesting season, you will not only have a wonderful vacation in paradise, but also an amazing opportunity to help baby sea turtles. Book now for summer 2020!