The season for baby turtle release is coming to an end in Puerto Vallarta. If you haven’t had the opportunity, there are still many chances. Several locations exist up and down the coast, and the concierge in most hotels can guide you to the closest one. Not many places around the globe make it possible for tourists and locals alike to participate in this exciting activity. Sea turtles are a vital part of our ocean ecosystem. They contribute to keeping a balance of seagrass, sponge, and jellyfish populations. Sea turtles transport nutrients and support other sealife. In Puerto Vallarta, we can be turtle midwives and contribute to the health of our oceans.
After the mother turtle makes her way to a nesting spot on the beach in Puerto Vallarta and the coast of Nayarit, the nests become vulnerable to predators of all kinds; iguanas, birds, dogs, and humans, to name a few. It is illegal to interfere with a turtle laying her eggs or the nest itself, while the eggs incubate. Most of us are aware of this problem, but animals have no idea there are laws to protect them and the defenseless turtles.
Our first adventure saving baby turtles happened completely by chance. Having late lunch on the beach in Mismaloya, we were beckoned by friends who were local Mexicans. They were excited to tell us we had arrived in time to be part of a baby turtle release. We couldn’t have been more surprised. Or elated. We quickly finished our meal, paid the bill, and made our way to the north end of the beach. The thrill of holding a baby turtle, (which many operations no longer allow) was something we will never forget. Having baby turtles run over your bare toes on their path to the sea is more pleasurable than we ever imagined. Everyone with few exceptions, is sad to learn that less than 10% of the little critters actually make it to their destination. They need all the help they can get.
Releases occur around the clock. Like humans, it’s hard to schedule birth. If you’re told that turtle release happens only in the dark, under the moonlight… book with another tour. We’ve also been told by unsuspecting people that this program can only be found on Tuesdays. Or Saturdays. Whatever. All nonsense.
In most of the turtle camps in Puerto Vallarta, run by non-profits, and often importing volunteers from faraway places, you will be delighted to learn about the whole migration of sea turtles by people who have found a way to devote time to this cause. These volunteers, of all ages, are well educated and informative, sharing their knowledge. Some have been featured on Animal Planet and National Geographic.
If you are so lucky as to happen upon a turtle nest while wandering on the beach, day or night, immediately contact the authorities. Bomberos (firemen and women) are trained to assist with all animal issues, from bees, to crocodiles, snakes and turtles.
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