Perfect Timing

The day after I arrived at Playa Viva I hopped on a 4-wheeler and rode a few minutes over to the Tortuga Viva turtle sanctuary. The rows and rows of markers looked a little like miniature headstones, but instead they served the opposite purpose. As the mother turtles had come onshore the night before to deposit their eggs, local volunteers were there to gather them and transfer each batch to the safety of the sanctuary. Now, they were marking last night’s finds so they’d be ready when in two months’ time these eggs hatched into baby sea turtles.

7 de agosto.

As I watched, the volunteers marked each of the previous night’s finds—recording the nest number, the number of eggs, the type of turtle, and the date.

Fast forward one week and I’m back at Playa Viva, relaxing before the start of a new week, when I hear the 4-wheeler headed down the beach from the turtle sanctuary. The volunteers arrive carrying a bucket, and when I peer inside I see tens of scrambling baby sea turtles – the first hatchlings of the year!

My timing couldn’t have been better: one week earlier I was watching eggs go into the ground for their two month incubation period, and now here I was looking at the season’s first set of turtles ready to be released into the ocean. Julia (Playa Viva’s manager), the two volunteers, and I made our way down to the waves where they poured the turtles onto the sand and we all watched as they scrambled toward the ocean.

Tortuga Viva’s volunteers told me that last year they released more than 100,000 baby sea turtles into the ocean. My fortunate timing—seeing eggs buried one week and baby turtles entering the ocean the next—is the result of the time and dedication these volunteers devote to gathering and caring for the eggs that mother turtles leave on Juluchuca’s shoreline. They protect the eggs from predators and poachers and shepherd the baby turtles back to the ocean when they hatch. Playa Viva supports and partners with local volunteers to support these conservation efforts.

Check out the video below to see this year’s first release, or, better yet, come down to Playa Viva to see it for yourself!

Nick’s Turtle Video from Playa Viva on Vimeo.


Do Your Part in Saving over 100,000 Baby Sea Turtles

It’s been a while since we have posted statistics for the turtle sanctuary.  See updated statistics in the graph to the right.  The good news is that we are now supporting La Tortuga Viva, a group of local volunteers who have worked hard this year in protecting and releasing close to 100,000 baby turtles. We hope you will join us in continuing to support the turtle sanctuary through your donations. For more on our transition from La Tortuga Feliz to La Tortuga Viva – see our annual report online.

How can you help:

For just $20 you can buy a baby turtle as a gift for a friend or relative over the holidays, please go to The

Alternatively, make a tax deductible donation of $50 or $100 or more directly with our fiscal sponsor, the Ocean Foundation, by clicking here.

We just purchased 4 new tires for the ATV with the assistance of a grant of $2000 from the Minnesota Foundation. Next year we have the opportunity to double the number of turtles we can protect and release back to the ocean. Please help us in reaching our goal of raising $10,000 for the turtle sanctuary to purchase a new ATV and provide gas for a year of operation.

Thank you for your support.

Turtle Sanctuary – Volunteer Opportunities

TurtleStatsGraphJune2009Playa Viva is working jointly with WildCoast/CostaSalvaje on a summer turtle volunteer program at La Tortuga Feliz, the turtle sanctuary at Playa Viva in Juluchuca, Mexico (30-minutes south of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa).  We have two options, one upscale staying at the “eco-lux” accommodations of Playa Viva and the second is more modest plan staying in Juluchuca in the homes of local townspeople. Part of the fee for attending will go as a donation to WildCoast to continue their work in turtle conservation throughout the coast of Mexico.  If you have questions about this program and would be interesting to join this September or October, please send us an email to info @

Just to catch up those of you tracking the progress of the volunteers at La Tortuga Feliz, here are the statistics for last month.  Overall, the results are 27% down from same time last year, so that is why it is so important to have your support in person or through donations to provide the resources necessary to keep the turtle safe.

For a video about La Tortugo Feliz go to the Multimedia section of Playa Viva’s website and click on the video entitled “La Tortuga Feliz

Playa Viva Refracted in a New Light

Brown Pelicans Surfing the Waves
Brown Pelicans Surfing the Waves

In the last few days I’ve received some of the best photographs ever taken at Playa Viva.  While we have been involved in this place for close to three years, the images that are captured there still do not cease to amaze me.  Just when you thought you saw all of Playa Viva, someone sends you slices of life from Playa Viva that refract the place in a whole new light. 

In late January, Daniel Camarena, an amateur photographer, naturalist and co-founder of Mexican non-profit Gente Como Nosotros (translates to “People Just Like Us”) spent 3 days in Playa Viva taking pictures of the wildlife.  His primary purpose for the trip was to photograph the birth and migration to the sea of the highly endangered Leatherback (Laud) turtle.  The turtle sanctuary, La Tortuga Feliz, had reported to us that a nest of Laud turtles had been found and the eggs were scheduled to hatch on that weekend.  Daniel and Gente Como Nosotros are in the process of deploying an environmental education  project in Mexico that will involve hundreds of schools and thousands of school children.  As part of this project, they wanted to capture the Laud Turtle for promotion and adoption by the school kids for environmental protection – we will provide you with more on this project as it gets formally released.

Daniel took photos of the volunteers of the turtle sanctuary at work in collecting and storing eggs safely in the sanctuary. He also got great images of the birds of Playa Viva and the landscape.  Enjoy PowerPoint below.

Save the Turtles Campaign

Organization Supporting "La Tortuga Feliz" at Playa Viva
Organization Supporting "La Tortuga Feliz" at Playa Viva

The last few months have been the height of the turtle season in Playa Viva. The all volunteer team has released 27,000 plus turtles last month. But the bad news is that overall, they have released 30% fewer turtles than last year and the reason for these lower results is that the volunteers just don’t have the same support as last year and are in vital need of key resources. As a result, for this holiday season, we have started a small charitable giving campaign to raise $10,000 for a new 4×4 vehicle and gas to keep the volunteers reaching and rescuing as many baby turtles as possible.

How are we doing this? We have partnered with several organizations. First, the Oceans Foundation has agreed to serve as a clearing house for charitable giving. This way, you can make a donation and it will be tax deductible. We are asking you to give $100 (for adults) and $10 (for children).  Go to the following link or go to and click on the “Donate Now” link. On the Donate page, you will see this:

Gift Information:
I’d like to make this donation
on behalf of in memory of Please send acknowledgement of this gift to:


(email address or postal address)

Make sure to click “on behalf” and write in the blank either: “La Tortuga Feliz” or “Playa Viva Turtle Sanctuary”. This will guarantee that your donation will directed to this campaign. You can also send an email acknowledgment to If you would like to send a check, please make it payable to “Oceans Foundation” and on the memo or for line please write “La Tortuga Feliz at Playa Viva”. Mail checks to our address: Playa Viva LLC, 20 Melrose Court, San Mateo, CA 94402.

Also, the good folks at GreaterGood Network/, LLC have partnered with us on click-to-save program that will direct matching funds.  We recommend highly that you visit their website and participate in their click-to-save programs.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if you have any ideas on how to help these volunteers continue their great work in saving more turtles.

Thank you for your donation and support.

Record Number of Turtles Released in 2007

Mexican Version of a Barn Raising

The year-end report for the Turtle Sanctuary is in and the volunteers from Juluchuca released a total of 202,854 Golfina sea turtles in 2007. In addition, they released 375 of the highly endangered Leatherback sea turtles. SEMARNAT released a report (in Spanish) stating that 2007 was the year of the turtle as it released a record 50 million turtles last year. We congratulate the all volunteer team with their huge success and for being part of a record year for Mexico and for the sea turtle.

In what looked like the local version of a barn raising, La Tortuga Feliz team is expanding its operations in anticipation of even further growth in 2008.

Top Turtle

Baby Turtle

Just got the stats from the turtle sanctuary team for November.  Over 42,000 baby turtles were released in November.  The Tortuga Feliz is running at 64% higher than last year and are either the number one or number two largest turtle sanctuary in all of Mexico.  With our support, they are now expanding to add more area and better facilities.  I have thought about setting up a non-profit and seeing if we can help drive donations from the US and other “wealthy” nations to support this all volunteer team, but as of now, we will do our best to support them directly.

Also, good news, Baltazar, the head of the team, reports that they have “tenemos un nido de la especie Laúd de 79 Huevos y otro de la especie negra con 110 Huevos” – Translating to: we have 70 eggs from the leatherback turtle (critically endangered) and 110 from the black (actually Green) turtle (also endangered).  How wonderful it is to be part of saving something so threatened.  See what team biologist Gerardo Ceballos has to say about this in a short video about > La Tortuga Feliz (see multimedia section of Playa Viva website).