Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Every Summer, Olive Ridley sea turtles start arriving on the shores of Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit to nest their eggs. Forty-five days later, their eggs begin to hatch, attracting visitors looking to experience the magic of life first-hand by taking part in the Banderas Bay region's turtle hatching season.
As the sea turtle nesting often takes place just outside the doors of Puerto Vallarta's finest resorts, the local hotel industry has gotten involved in the protection effort by running marine turtle conservation and protection programs with the help of professional marine biologists.
In addition to working with local environmental experts and scientists, many of the resorts host special events during the hatching season of July to December (the largest number of hatchings take place in November,) and once the hatchlings are born and ready to be set free, the hotels invite guests to aid in the release.
It's a unique educational opportunity, as the resort's recreational staff takes the opportunity to familiarize participants with the Olive Ridley turtle, explaining their life cycle and physical characteristics, while creating environmental awareness and encouraging others to help save them.
Afterwards, participants are invited to name the turtles, wish them luck and set them free. The turtles are returned to the sea at the edge of the resort's beach, where some of them will return a decade later to start the process all over again. For more information, call 322-226-0000 or 1-800-228-9290 toll free from the US and Canada.
There are also a number of ecological groups that run turtle camps and nurseries in the greater Banderas Bay area, where you can help newborn turtles through the first steps of their lives. Among them are: Campamentos Tortugueros Puerto Vallarta, a 2 km stretch of beach from Playa de Oro to Playa los Tules in the northern part of Puerto Vallarta; and, in Riviera Nayarit, Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde's Marine Turtle Nursery, Platanitos Turtle Camp and Grupo Ecologico de Nayarit's Playa el Naranjo.
During the summer and fall months, travelers can volunteer or go on tours of these nurseries and nesting sites to learn about the fascinating life cycle of sea turtles for just one night or by participating in a two-month-long volunteer project, subject to availability. For more information, visit project-tortuga.org.
Before the development of programs such as these, only 40% of the eggs that were laid along the shores of Banderas Bay survived, but today, thanks to programs such as these, almost 96% of the eggs deposited are incubated successfully.Everyone is invited to come and witness this wonder of nature, while participating in the conservation of endangered marine turtles. Without a doubt, to be in such close contact with nature is an unforgettable experience for all ages.