A unique and gratifying adventure in conservation
As you head out after dark with the turtle sanctuary volunteers on ATVs your work is to scan the beach, to identifying turtle tracks, and locate nests to collect vulnerable turtle eggs. If left on the beach, the nests are susceptible to predation from dogs and racoons as well as poachers – humans. With only one in a thousand hatchlings reaching adulthood, every egg counts.
If the timing is right, it’s possible to come across a nesting mother turtle as she returns to the same beach on which she was born. It’s an intimate experience to respectfully observe her as she lays her eggs, and to know that without your support, she would have had very little chance of survival. Even if no adult mother turtles are sighted, keep an eye out for bioluminescent plankton, shooting stars and lagoon crocodiles. This is all part of the Turtle Beach Night Patrol at Playa Viva.
After collecting the eggs from the beach, nests are brought to the Turtle Sanctuary, an enclosed and protected area built and maintained by the Turtle Sanctuary Volunteers. Here, the eggs can be kept safe until hatching in 45-60 days. Upon release, the hatchlings follow their instincts to the sea. The beach at Playa Viva is home to three sea turtle species: Olive Ridley, Leatherback, and Green turtles. With all three species critically endangered on the Mexican Pacific coasts, this work is invaluable to the protection of global populations.
Being a part of the nest collection process puts the work of La Tortuga Viva into a different context – you have the opportunity become a crucial component of conservation efforts, realizing the hard work that is done 365 days a year. Learning how to save turtle nests from predators and local poachers is a level of adventure and cultural immersion unexpected on most luxury vacations.
Guests are asked for a donation of $25 per person to go on the Night Patrol, yet some guests have given as much as $100 per person because they loved the experience so much. All of the proceeds from the night patrol go directly to the operations and to the members of La Tortuga Viva, providing a well-deserved financial incentive for their valuable contributions as volunteers. These patrols provide a great cultural exchange as the volunteers often forget how special the work they do is and going out with guests and seeing their excitement about something that has become mundane to them is very important part of the volunteers finding renewed value in their work. The patrols allow for a meeting of two seemingly polarizing worlds. The common interest – protecting these incredible creatures – unites those fortunate enough to travel to Playa Viva with some of Juluchuca’s most vulnerable community members. Sharing that curiosity, passion and cultural exchange is a priceless outcome for both parties.
During a stay at Playa Viva, you’re more than a guest – you become a member of our community commitment to regeneration and conservation. Through sharing an experience and connecting with the work of La Tortuga Viva, you have the ability to combine a beautiful vacation with a positive global impact.
Background and Key Info on Turtle Sanctuary:
A stay at Playa Viva is more than just a vacation, it’s an experience. At the hotel and on excursions, you have the opportunity to connect with nature and actively contribute to its regeneration. For our more adventurous guests, that now includes midnight sea turtle patrols along a lone Mexican beach.
Working with La Tortuga Viva, Playa Viva has been able to facilitate the release of over 400,000 sea turtle hatchlings since 2010. Run by 14 local volunteers from Juluchuca, the program fosters sustainable practice in the community and aims to turn poachers into conservationists. With the implementation of the new “night patrol” excursion this past December, guests are able to embark on an adventure they might have never known possible.