The Gift of a New Turtle Sanctuary

109 World Helps Build Our New Turtle Sanctuary

Each year 1000s of mother sea turtles return to the beaches around Playa Viva to lay their eggs.  These turtle nests are increasingly vulnerable to both predators and poaching, but since 2001 they have been protected by the dedicated volunteers at La Tortuga Viva.  The volunteers patrol the beach each night, collect freshly laid eggs, moving them to the turtle sanctuary, a centralized incubation pen, where they are safe until they can hatch and be released into the Pacific.  The sanctuary operates 365 days a year, and just since 2010, La Tortuga Viva has protected and released over 400,000 endangered turtles.

It’s a huge task, but the work doesn’t stop there.  Every few years they have to construct a whole new sanctuary structure in a different location.

Each morning after a turtle release and yoga we set out to dig, hammer, and lift in order to get the new sanctuary off the ground.

Over time bacteria and ant infestations build up in the sand, and without moving the sanctuary, the birthrates would plummet and the process would not be effective.  So we are incredibly thankful this holiday season for the gift of a brand new sanctuary structure, made possible by the hard work and financial support of 109 World, a service and mindfulness organization, that brought 35 members to join our community of volunteer conservationists for a 6 day yoga and service trip.

As a service and mindfulness organization, 109 World members have traveled all over the world leading retreats to empower individuals to transform their lives.  They organize a wide variety of humanitarian projects, in areas such as education, the environment, animals or women’s rights in order to make the world a better place.   109 World Executive director Leticia Reyes sums it up saying “our mission is to help individuals fulfill the promise of their potential through mindfulness and actionable impact.”

It was clear for everyone involved that this experience went beyond just building a new sanctuary.

With the 35 participants from 109 World and 14 local conservation volunteers, we were able to achieve a lot of action and impact!  Each morning after a turtle release and yoga we set out to dig, hammer, and lift in order to get the new sanctuary off the ground. Our efforts paid off, with 90% the sanctuary finished by the last day.

Our Shared Impact

It was clear for everyone involved that this experience went beyond just building a new sanctuary. It was about connecting with people from different walks of life and seeing how we can come together to learn, engage and give back. Despite language barriers, the 109 World participants were able to meet and interact with our dedicated team of turtle camp volunteers. It was a wonderful chance for members of La Tortuga Viva to showcase their work and take pride in the conservation project they have created. Whether through collective lunches each day, nighttime patrols, or our final bonfire on the beach, there were so many moments of connection and engagement.

When asking Leticia about her experiences here at Playa Viva and working with La Tortuga Viva, she shared:

“This is our twelfth 109 World trip, and I can honestly say that from start to finish, this it is the best trip yet. Coming to Playa Viva has allowed us to stay in a space where our values are completely aligned. From an environmental, ethical, and social perspective, staying and working here allows us to come full circle. Not only are we doing a service project with La Tortuga Viva, but we are also staying at a place that is actively engaging the community, giving back and protecting the environment.”

As we put the final touches on our new turtle sanctuary, we are left full of gratitude for the generosity of 109 World. We feel humbled to have had the privilege to host such an amazing group of individuals and hope that we will have the chance to collaborate with 109 and other groups to come on future projects.

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