Turtle Release Programs in Mexico | AMA Travel

Turtle Release Programs in Mexico

Mexico is the world's most popular all-inclusive vacation destination, where you can laze in the sun, play some outdoor sports, or tour the beautiful and historic landscape. Or, if you're looking to have a truly unique experience, you can help local sea turtles live a full life in the wide-open water. Sadly, the turtles here are an endangered species, so volunteers and biologists have formed a protection and release program, to shield them from dangers caused by people and the elements.

Puerto Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico, offers the largest turtle protection and release program in the state, which was developed and funded by donations from condominium owners.

There's Safety in the Sea

Biologists collect eggs on a daily beach patrol. In the summer months, when there is a larger volume of eggs, there are several patrols per day. The eggs are collected and buried in the sand with a date posted. It takes around 50 days before the eggs hatch, so the researchers have a good idea of when to watch for the baby turtles to emerge. During the three days after the turtles hatch, they form a ladder on top of each other to crawl up from the sand to the top — this is when the babies are collected, in order to protect them from the elements early in their lives.

Since the turtles are naturally drawn to bright light, they're released as the sun begins to set on the ocean horizon, drawing them into their new protective home: the safety of the water.

Relying on Instincts

Turtles have an amazing sense of location and tracking, and since the program's success is measured by the number of mother turtles who come back to the beach each year to lay their eggs, we have to put a lot of trust into their instincts. The biologists set a line on the sand indicating where the turtles will be released, and the turtles cannot be touched or assisted in any way to get into the ocean — nature will help them eventually find their way. In order to hold the turtles, your hands must be wet and then covered with wet sand from the beach. The last sand they feel before they go into the ocean ensures they come back to the same beach to lay their eggs as adults.

If you are lucky enough to be on the beach in Puerto Vallarta on a release day, take the time to check it out and participate.


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