Over one million sea turtles

Over one million sea turtles are released every year in Riviera Nayarit, which has becomea sanctuary for these tiny chelonians thanks to the many turtle camps that dot its more than 307 km (190 mi) of coastline, all dedicated to their conservation and protection.

The entire process of preservation and releasing the sea turtle has become an important tourist attraction and a fascinating eco-adventure activity, especially for the kids—the release ceremonies are a unique opportunity to instill a love for nature at an early age.

There are four protected species that lay eggs on this coastline: the Olive Ridley, the green sea turtle, the leatherback, and the hawksbill. The most common is the Olive Ridley, which lays eggs three times a year producing an average of 100 eggs per nest, 80 percent of which survive, though only one in one thousand survives to reproduce.

As each new generation of turtles reaches maturity it returns to its beach of origin to lay its own eggs.

Nesting and liberation season

Biologist Hermilo Esparza, who is in charge of the Nuevo Vallarta Sea Turtle Protection and Conservation Center, has announced the official sea turtle liberation season begins during the first two weeks of August and ends in December.

He explained the turtles arrive to the lay their eggs in June; the hatchlings arrive a scant 45 days later. Before they do, though, the staff from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) along with local volunteers set up watch on the beach during the night to collect the eggs, protect them, and incubate them.

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History

Historically, Nuevo Vallarta’s beach registers the largest number of arrivals in the region. The turtle camp is 14 km (8.6 mi) long (it’s been in open for 25 years by the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas) and registers an average of 5,500 nests, liberating between 300 thousand and 400 thousand hatchlings every year.

According to data from the National Program for the Conservation of Sea Turtles, there were 51 thousand Olive Ridley nests registered in the Mexican Pacific in 2010; about six thousand of these were on the beaches of Nuevo Vallarta. By 2012 that number had reached a record 10 thousand nests.

Besides the Nuevo Vallarta turtle camp, there are another nine camps strung out along the coastline, all of which form part of the Nayarit Turtle Network and offer visitors the opportunity to liberate hatchlings. Some of these liberate an average of 60 thousand turtles, while others can free as many as 250 thousand.

The biologist points out, however, that even though it might seem like a large number, the truth is very few of them survive. It’s estimated that only one or two of every thousand hatchlings reaches maturity and returns to reproduce.

(For more in depth information, please see original article here as only a portion is shared above)

Finally, I would like to add, according to PuertoVallarta.net’s article Puerto Vallarta Sea Turtle Protection, here is a list of hotels who participate in the Sea Turtle Hatchling Protection and Release program. (get more details from puertovallarta.net article)

Hotels participating in the program are:

1. Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta (has its own turtle area)
2. Hotel Velas Vallarta (through Non-Profit Org: Nuestra Tierra AC.)
3. Dreams Puerto Vallarta
4. Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort
5. Plaza Pelicanos Club Beach Resort
6. Sunset Plaza Beach Resort and Spa
7. Hotel El Pescador
8. Hola Friendly Vallarta
9. Hotel Barcelo
10. Hotel Blue Bay Los Angeles Locos Tenacatita
11. Punta Serena Villas and Spa (Costa Alegre) (SEMARNAP certified eco project)

For those interested in participating while on their vacation, turtle releases run every night to give the hatchlings the best chance of survival. To learn more about how you can participate in this fun and educational activities while enjoying the best of this Mexican beach resort destination, contact any the above hotels. Normally, participating guests are provided with a brief lecture on sea turtles, their environment plus their travel patterns around the world oceans, often dangerous waters. Children who participate in these marine turtle release programs are given the honor of naming the baby turtles as they’re released into the Pacific Ocean.

The importance of Puerto Vallarta’s turtle protection programs must not be underestimated as the various sea turtle species are increasingly in danger of extinction around the world. Even though the exact number of remaining sea turtles is unknown, Mexican authorities and the local tourism trust (Fideicomiso) are committed to giving these beautiful and mysterious creatures a helping hand.

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