As I mentioned before in this special photo of the week, one of the first things I did on this New Year was to pay a visit to the local Turtle Camp of Acapulco. Sea Turtles have always fascinated me, even before Finding Nemo was released. There’s just something magical about this magnificent and graceful creatures.
In Acapulco (check out the best things to do in Acapulco) there are many camps that focus on the protection and release of baby sea turtles. The normal procedure is for the volunteers to wait in the night for the sea turtle to bury her eggs in the sand and, once she is gone, proceed to collect her eggs and place them in a fenced area. This is done to avoid scavengers animals (the worst of them being humans) to steal the eggs and eat them.
Afterwards, the volunteers proceed to take care of the eggs until they hatch, normally after 45-55 days. The sea turtles are born weak and yet, they must be released into the ocean within 24 hours, otherwise, they’ll lose their natural instinct to swim and won’t be unable to survive in the wild.
How to find a Sea Turtle Camp
The first step, of course, is finding a sea turtle camp. If you’re already in Acapulco, your better option is to ask the locals, never ask the hotel or taxi drivers since they’re will likely take you there while charging a very high fee.
But hey, that address is so far away from the city! The reason for that is because the Bay of Acapulco is not part of the ocean, so the sea turtles go to the outskirts of the city, to a place called Barra Vieja to lay their eggs. From downtown Acapulco, it’s a one-hour drive to get there. If you don’t have a car and don’t want to take a taxi, your better option is to take a collective yellow taxi.
Before you go, however, it is wise to call by phone to confirm that they actually have sea turtles available to be released. You don’t want to go all the way there and end up being disappointed, right? The release of sea turtles into the ocean happen at sunrise and sunset, the times where most natural predators won’t be able to catch them so plan your visit accordingly.
Volunteering at the Sea Turtle Camp
The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving is that the fact that the sea turtle camp doubles as a restaurant. The best part? The food is extremely cheap, even by Mexican standards!
My mother, aunt and me ate like royalty for only 10 USD total for the three of us! After talking to the guy in charge of the camp, I was shocked to learn how little the funding of the government is and that the main source of income for the sustainability of the sea turtles comes from the profits of the restaurant!
You can also buy turtle-related souvenirs at the camp, such as t-shirts and ceramic ornaments. My family and I arrived quite early so we had some time to relax at the beach, however, I decided to engage in my journalistic side and have a little chat with the manager of the camp.
To our surprise, a new set of sea turtles just hatched before our eyes and I was asked to help him clean them! How cool is that?
Once the sunset approaches, we were asked to line-up in order to buy a “Sea Turtle Coupon” at the price of 30 Mexican pesos (about 2.5 USD) and we listened to a brief talk from the manager about the many species of sea turtles that exist in the world and how a good majority of them come to Mexico to lay their eggs.
He also shared some very sad facts about the life expectancy of the sea turtles that we’re about to release into the ocean and well, thanked us for choosing to engage in this activity.
Afterwards, we all approached the beach, where we exchanged our coupons for a sea turtle. Our time was surely brief, since we had to release them in a few more minutes but hey, sometimes one minute is more than enough for creating a meaningful connection.
Do I expect to meet my dear Sunny the Marvelous ever again? Of course not, but I’m happy knowing that she’ll be happily swimming and enjoying life as much as I do :)
Have you ever engaged in ecotourism? Do you like sea turtles? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!
Also, if you’re interested in swimming with huge adult sea turtles, how about traveling to Akumal in the Mayan Riviera? Did you know that you can swim with these majestic creatures for free?
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