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Puerto Vallarta Turtle Release Program – How To Get Involved

by Craig Zabransky on August 25, 2011

After the first post, turtle nesting season in Banderas Bay many locals and visitors wanted to understand more details on “how” they can help. And they can help. So to assist you with understanding the how, I asked the CNN nominated hero, Biologist, and the Director of Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente Oscar Aranda a few questions.
Interview with  Oscar Aranda on the Turtle Release Program
1 ) Should visitors contact the Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente directly if they want to volunteer? If not, how should they get in touch with a turtle rescue program? 
Volunteers need to contact me directly, to my e-mail seaturtlesvta@aim.com. They can find some basic information on the website and facebook “Vallarta Nature”.
2 ) Do volunteers need to go through any education / training before being able to assist?
They get the training during their staying, learning and practicing simultaneously. Usually takes around a week to be perfectly ready to do all activities by themselves.
3 ) What type of roles can visitors volunteer to do?
Volunteers are primarily helping us in the night watch, patroling the beach, protecting the turtles nesting and finding/collecting turtle nests. They also bring the nests to the hatchery and bury them. When there are nests hatching, they also collect baby turtles and open their nests, doing counting of eggs, baby turtles, cleaning process, etc.
4 ) What is the time commitment required for volunteering? One night, one week, more?
Two weeks minimum, three weeks is the reccomended time, but for those only with limited time, you can donate and assist one night. It is an affordable way to be a part of the program and it helps fund the conservation effort. Detail are on the website. 
5 ) Do volunteers need to speak Spanish?
Not necesarily, but it helps. Most people in Vallarta speaks some english. 

release at sunset...

6 ) If people are not in Puerto Vallarta area, can they still help? donate to charity? what else can they do?
Donations are always welcome and we have a paypal account for donations. We accept ideas for fundraising too.
7 ) How is the season progressing this year?
Very good, we have more nests than last year. So far we have more than 300 nests in our campbase.
8 ) Have the first turtles hatched? When is the next event any visitors or locals should be aware of / can participate in?
Last public event was last saturday (August 20th). Baby turtles are just starting to hatch, and we do release them every night in the beaches of the participant hotels. People can participate during at sunset. 
9) How can visitors learn about other release dates? Events?
The best way is to contact us directly during their visit. Send us an email. 
Thank you Oscar. We appreciate your time and your mission.
Now, if  you, the readership, have any more questions, please leave them as a comment here, or as Oscar recommends, contact him directly.
Photos: Courtesy of the Sociedad Ecologica de Occidente.
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
View all posts by Craig Zabransky
  • Kim McBride

    My husband and I will be in Puerto Vallarta October 9-13. We would love to participate in turtle release or certainly observe. How can we be a part of this?

    Thank you,

    Kim McBride

  • Laurie Gourley

    One of the most amazing experiences of my life is holding a baby sea turtle in the palm of my hand.

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

    @Kim, my advice would be email Oscar. When I talk to him, that is his preferred method of having people contact him to help. And definitely check out the website, the link is in the article.

    @Laurie, It is definitely a memorable experience, I can remember holding a few prior to a release once… very powerful indeed.

    stay adventurous, Craig

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