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Published May 7, 2014, 3:46pm – (Updated May 8, 2014, 3:31pm)
By Paco Ojeda
Managing Editor, Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group
A rite of passage spanning millions of years, the enormous Olive Ridley turtle—one of several marine turtle species in severe danger of extinction—completes an annual ecological cycle by returning to Jalisco and Nayarit beaches during the Summer months to lay their eggs and bury them deep in the sand. Following a 52- to 58-day incubation period, the tiny hatchlings climb to the surface, their instincts drawing them back to the ocean. After 8 to12 years, these turtles are ready to reproduce, returning to the very same spot where they were born.
This cycle is threatened at all stages by predators—human and otherwise. However, a small but significant number of individuals and organizations devote time and resources to ensure that this ageless ritual goes on undisturbed, allowing visitors and locals a carefully supervised glimpse of its beauty. From marine biologists, turtle research facilities and conservancy organizations to hotels and activity providers, the following are a few we know of throughout the region. We should all be grateful for their commitment and dedication!
The region is home to almost two dozen turtle camps, most of which can be found through Red Tortuguera, A.C., a non-profit organization. Several hotels and condominiums in the area, including CasaMagna Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Sunset Plaza, Velas Vallarta, Palladium Royal Suites, La Tranquila and the Punta Mita Homeowners Associations, sponsor successful turtle protection and release programs. And activity providers, such as Ecotours de Mexico, organize volunteer programs and release activities, ideal for the entire family.
What can you expect? Most turtle release activities throughout the bay involve an educational component during which a tour guide will facilitate visits through the campgrounds where eggs are carefully monitored, and when the hatchlings are collected for the daily return to sea during the evening months. Hatchlings are usually returned to sea during the afternoon/early evening hours.
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