How can you spend a week on the beach with the ocean lapping at your feet, fresh ocean breeze caressing your face, and gorgeous Pacific sunsets for $10 a day?
As a bonus you get to help save an endangered species; welcome to Turtle Camp 2020. For just 1400 pesos per week, about $10USD per day to cover food and lodging, you can join the sea turtle rescue operation on the shores of Banderas Bay.
The Turtle Camp Boca de Tomates has been working with the sea turtle for more than 25 years. It belongs to the non profit Red Tortuguera A.C. whose priority is to take care of the different species of sea turtles that come to nest on the beaches of Jalisco and Nayarit, Mexico. The Puerto Vallarta Subdirectorate for the Environment also supports the camp and works in conjunction with the Municipal Program for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. Every year the call is open to participate in the summer-autumn volunteering, where you can support the camp with the activities that are normally carried out and learn about sea turtles, as well as having an incredible social and learning experience.
The Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the species that mostly reaches the Mexican Pacific and Boca de Tomates beach. It is the turtle that we will work with this nesting season. It is the smallest of the seven species of turtles that reach the Mexican coasts.
Come and participate as a volunteer in the 2020 sea turtle nesting season, where you will carry out important conservation activities such as:
- Night patrols
- Collection of sea turtle nests
- Handling of eggs and incubating in a nursery
- Data capture
- Cleaning of nests
- Release of sea turtle babies
- Environmental education talks
- Maintenance, repairs, and general help for the facilities of the camp
- Beach cleaning
When night falls, we cover 3km of beach by ATV and sometimes by foot. Nests can be found, as well as nesting turtles/mommy turtles. These tours serve to collect nests and care for mother turtles to protect them from predators in the area (dogs, birds, raccoons and people). Once the nests are located, the eggs are collected in a bag and transferred to the incubation room or nursery, where they are kept until the day of hatching. There are two to three tours per night through early morning, interspersing days between volunteers. All the data corresponding to the collection of the nest will be recorded in the log: date, time, place, number of eggs, and nesting turtle measurements.
Sea Turtle hatchlings of the Golfina species hatch from the egg 45 days after planting or laying the nest. The hatchlings that have hatched will be collected and released into the sea at sunset. Cleaning of nests in the nursery will be done every time a nest has hatched. Everything will be cleaned, removing the broken shells, undeveloped eggs, and any remaining babies still in the nest.
Environmental Education Talks are given in order to inform the visitors and volunteers of the camp about the importance of sea turtles in Mexico and the world. The manager of the camp will provide the information and you can join in these talks. They are carried out with the help of educational materials, during the day and before the releases of the baby turtles.
It is important to keep the beach free of litter, as sea turtles need a clean place to spawn without problems. In addition, it is important to keep the environment and the place where we live clean. Trash that is located on the beach (plastics, cigarette butts, aluminum cans, bags, straws, shoes, among other things) will be collected. The camp area has a rustic infrastructure, and being located on the beach deterioration is constant. Also materials such as poles, fences, tarpaulins etc. have to be constantly replaced. We will collaborate to enjoy a comfortable, clean and safe space.
Requirements for volunteering start with filling out the registration form. Volunteers will need a tent, sleeping bag, RED light head lamp (mandatory,) raincoat, comfortable clothing, and sneakers or boots. Camp facilities include a bathroom, kitchen and dining room, camping area, and there is a cabin and some teepees subject to availability. Also included is buffet lunch at the Hotel Grand Velas Vallarta, and use of the employee showers in that hotel. Drinking and illegal drugs are not permitted inside the camp. For further information and registration, click on the links below. Come on down, save some turtles, and spend a week on the beach for a few dollars a day!!