Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Participating in the release of sea turtle hatchlings in Puerto Vallarta is an amazing experience. Seeing with your own eyes these little reptiles taking their first steps, while enjoying the beautiful sunset and the crystalline beaches of Banderas Bay, will undoubtedly become an unforgettable moment for the whole family.
Every year, from the second half of June until mid-December, hundreds of sea turtles of different species arrive on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta to lay their eggs. The Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the most common species in the region, but you might also see Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Black (Chelonia mydas agassizii) and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles nesting on the beaches.
Since the Municipal Departments of Environment and Ecology, marine biologists, environmental groups and many Banderas Bay area resorts are committed to the conservation and preservation of sea turtles, once the turtles lay their eggs, the nests are carefully moved to turtle camps, where they are protected until they hatch.
These turtle camps give participants the opportunity to learn more about the Olive Ridley while creating environmental awareness and encouraging others to help save them. In these camps you can participate in a baby turtle release – or simply be a spectator.
With more than 9,000 nests expected this year, each camp will care for anywhere from 70 to 230 nests this summer, when somewhere between 60 to 500 sea turtles will hatch each day. Typically the first turtle releases take place during the second half of July.
The following turtle release programs are now open to the public:
Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp: This site dedicated to the conservation of turtles, is open to anyone interested in carrying out this extraordinary experience of nature. Families are encouraged.
Hotel Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa: This hotel, considered an icon in Puerto Vallarta, has its own biologist who guides and supervises the release of these magnificent reptiles.
Ecotours Vallarta: This tour company with a great commitment to the environment offers the opportunity to visit a sea turtle camp accompanied by a specialized guide who will give a talk on the biology and ecology of the sea turtles, in addition to helping the baby turtle hatchlings reach the ocean.
Wildlife Connection: Offers the opportunity to visit the official camp of the national sea turtle protection program, where you can contribute to the conservation of this wonderful species. They release baby turtles every night.
Hotel Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta: Is another popular spot where, under the guidance of the hotel’s biologist, guests are encouraged to be an active part of the liberation of the young turtles, while trained personnel supervise ensure that no one enters the sea at the release point for 20 minutes after the last hatchling has been released.
Before the development of programs such as these, only 40% of the eggs that were laid along the shores of Banderas Bay survived, but today, thanks to programs such as these, almost 96% of the eggs deposited are incubated successfully.
If during your stay in Puerto Vallarta you find a sea turtle on the beach, it is important to keep a distance of approximately 10 meters, not to take photos with flash, and above all, not to disturb them since spawning can be interrupted.
Source: Puerto Vallarta Tourism Trust