30 July 2010
august volunteer project preview: platanitos turtle camp playa las tortugas in nayarit, mexico
Where: The Platanitos Sea Turtle Camp at Playa Las Tortugas is located on the Pacific coast approximately 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta in the State of Nayarit, Mexico. The Camp is regulated and directed by Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP), part of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources. It lies between the beach and over 1100 acres of pristine salt-water tidal estuary on the north end of 11 miles of beach branded as “Costa Tortuga.”
What: Four protected species of sea turtles nest and lay eggs on Riviera Nayarit beaches: hawksbill turtles, Olive Ridley, leatherback and green turtles. Olive Ridley turtles are indigenous to Nayarit; its nesting season is from June to November. Selva Negra, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment, is helping to fund operation the Platanitos Sea Turtle Camp along with the developer and homeowners of Playa Las Tortugas. Selva Negra was founded and is operated by the musical group Mana.
At Playa Las Tortugas, my job is to help preserve the endangered sea turtles that come to nest at Costa Tortuga every year. My primary volunteer duties will be carried out at night (perfectly suited to my insomniac tendencies) when the sea turtles leave the ocean to lay their eggs and include patrolling the beach, collecting turtle eggs, and releasing hatchlings to the sea.
Why: Growing up on the east coast, my family spent summers on Fripp Island, South Carolina and loggerhead turtles would regularly nest in the dunes right out front. Light pollution wasn’t an issue back then, but ghost crabs were, and I recall as a small child, locals helping the hatchlings make their way to the ocean safely at dusk. I was able to relive that experience last December while on assignment in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and it was pretty awesome to play some small part in the (fingers crossed) survival of these beautiful creatures.