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Olive Ridley Turtle Nesting Begins in Banderas Bay

by Craig Zabransky on July 1, 2011

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July is quiet in Puerto Vallarta. The summer marks the unofficial end of the “tourist” season and the green season begins. The town seems to take a breath. For some, this is perfect time to visit, for others they return (or stay) north of the border and for some small reptiles well they starting coming in with the waves.

Yes, the summer marks the beginning turtle nesting season on the beaches of Banderas Bay. Many types arrive, but the most common to the area are the Olive Ridley turtles or the “Golfina” (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtle.  Actually, these leatherback beauties can come multiple times in the season, each time laying over 100 eggs on the beaches.

Survival numbers remain unknown and unfortunately are estimated rather low. For each 1,000 born less than 10 reach an adulthood of eight years. Not good odds. Couple that with increased development and increased poaching activities (the eggs are believed to be aphrodisiacs) and the odds decrease. But hope exists.

the turtles just hatched...

The Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente works to conserve the turtle nesting grounds. They perform nighttime patrols to protect the turtles, gather the eggs, and then they work with prominent hotels and condominiums to provide safe nesting sites called hatcheries. Then after the 45 day incubation period, the eggs hatch, and the turtles are ready for releasing back to the sea. This is a process that always looks for volunteers, and as I learned setting a turtle free is an event one cherishes for a lifetime.

So as the season progresses, I’ve lined up an interview with CNN nominated hero, Oscar Aranda, Biologist and the Director and Founder of Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente. He works to save these fascinating creatures and if you have any questions about the program, the turtles, or how to help, please leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to ask him.

Photos by Craig Zabransky and the VallartaNature.org

Craig travels around the world to write tales of travel aimed to encourage and inspire others to take and make adventure in their life. And after calling Mexico home for over a year, it secured a special place in his heart. He continues to return often and often considers it his second home. You can find more of his travels on his Stay Adventurous site and follow him on his Twitter: @stayadventurous..
Craig Zabransky
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  • http://www.vallartatodoincluido.com Genaro Diaz

    Great article, I hope I can visit these turtle nestings in Vallarta next trip.

  • http://retireinnayarit.blogspot.com/ Rick

    Hi, thank you for sharing such a wonderful article on these sea creatures.
    I would like to know how people in the area can get involved to post it on my blog: http://retireinnayarit.blogspot.com/ and also, if someone can’t volunteer, what measures can they take to protect the turtles while enjoying the beaches? I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks, Rick

  • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ Craig Zabransky

    @Rick “de nada” and thanks for the questions; I’ll be sure to find out.

    @Genaro, consider Sept-Nov. Those are the best months to see the turtles both lay eggs and have some eggs hatch. But I’ll ask to make sure.

    stay adventurous, Craig

  • Corey

    Thank you for this article. Sea turtles are truly wonderful and amazing creatures. How can we contact the Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente if we are interested in volunteering? Do we have to speak fluent Spanish?

  • Laurie Gourley

    Puerto Vallarta is an amazing city with a variety of experiences other than just going to the beach. Thank you for pointing out the other side of Puerto Vallarta.
    It is an amazing experience to watch these turtles hatch and start their journey into the sea. I have had the privilege of holding one right after it was hatched and that’s a vacation experience I will never forget.

  • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ Craig Zabransky

    @Corey, I”ll ask both questions. thanks for commenting.

    @Laurie, your welcome, not to sound to commercial, but PV really does offer something for everyone, doesn’t it :) And I totally agree, it is an amazing experience. I’ve been fascinated by the plight the all turtles ever since my first experience seven years ago.

    stay adventurous, Craig

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