By Bahia Magazine Destinos / PUERTO VALLARTA, JAL.- Every Summer, Olive Ridley sea turtles start arriving on the shores of Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit to nest their eggs. Forty-five days later, their eggs begin to hatch, attracting visitors looking to experience the magic of life first-hand by taking part in the Banderas Bay region’s turtle hatching season.
The Bay of Banderas is the birthplace of thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles, and every summer they return to the beaches on which they were born to lay their eggs. As the sea turtle nesting often takes place just outside the doors of Puerto Vallarta’s finest resorts, the local hotel industry has gotten involved in the protection effort by running marine turtle conservation and protection programs for over 40 years.
With the support of professional marine biologists and the Municipal Departments of Environment and Ecology, many Banderas Bay area resorts run turtle conservation and protection programs that give turtle-loving travelers an opportunity to take part in this unique educational vacation experience.
If the hundreds of eggs the mother lays are left there, they are at risk of being stepped on or eaten by predators. So, once the turtles lay their eggs, the nests are moved with great care to protect them until they hatch. When the hatchlings are born and ready to be set free, the hotels invite guests to aid in the release. It’s a unique educational opportunity, as the resort’s recreational staff takes the opportunity to familiarize participants with the Olive Ridley turtle, explaining their life cycle and physical characteristics, while creating environmental awareness and encouraging others to help save them.
There are also a number of environmental groups in the greater Banderas Bay area that run turtle camps that give participants the opportunity to learn more about the Olive Ridley while creating environmental awareness and encouraging others to help save them.
During the summer and fall months, travelers can volunteer or go on tours of these nurseries and nesting sites to learn about the fascinating life cycle of sea turtles, for just one night, or by participating in a two-month-long volunteer project, subject to availability. For more information about long-term volunteer opportunities, visit project-tortuga.org.
TURTLE CAMPS AND RELEASE PROGRAMS IN PUERTO VALLARTA
Boca de Tomates Sea Turtle Camp
The Boca de Tomates Saving Sea Turtles release camp and sanctuary is right behind the Puerto Vallarta airport on the beach. The staff claims an average of 60,000 baby turtles are released each year. Check their Facebook page for release times as they change every day depending on availability. If you aren’t in Puerto Vallarta, you can help by adopting a turtle nest or by making a donation to their conservation program via Paypal to [email protected] to help pay for materials, flashlights, gasoline for the 4-wheelers, and more.
CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Turtle Release
The Marriott Puerto Vallarta turtle release is one of the most popular ones in the area. It has been one of the resorts leading the way for the conservation of sea turtles in Banderas Bay. After the baby sea turtles hatch, guests of all ages are invited to participate in the release. The release dates and times vary depending on the month and day, so we recommend calling in advance to plan your visit. Visit marriott.com or call (322) 226-0000 or 1-800-228-9290 toll free from the US and Canada for more information and release times.
TURTLE CAMPS AND RELEASE PROGRAMS IN RIVIERA NAYARIT
Nuevo Vallarta turtle Release Camp
On Flamingos Beach in Nuevo Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta turtle Release Camp is a turtle camp dedicated to the conservation, hatching, and releasing of baby sea turtles. For more information and release times, visit their Facebook page.
Sayulita Turtle Release Camp
Take a short hike on the beach to reach the Sayulita Turtle Release Camp. Baby sea turtle releases happen on the same day that they hatch which is they can only announce release dates and times at 10 am on the day of the event. To see daily release times, visit their Facebook page.
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.
Turtle-loving travelers heading to Puerto Vallarta this summer are invited to join one of the Banderas Bay region’s many sea turtle protection programs, which help thousands of baby Olive Ridley sea turtles survive long enough to reach the sea.