The Puerto Escondido turtle release is one of our favorite experiences we had in Mexico. We spent five days in Puerto Escondido this December as we were craving some heat, sand and sun! Coming from San Cristobal where it’s pretty chilly for Mexico, we were so glad we did.
Our plan was simple, hit the beach and find some good fish tacos! La Punta is perfect to spend your afternoon in a hammock with a big bowl of homemade guac and chips. That’s pretty much what ended up happening.
We left the laidback area of La Punta once in those five days and it was to go participate in this awesome release! We seriously can’t say enough good things about our experience at the turtle release in Puerto Escondido. It’s an experience we wholeheartedly recommend.
On the other side of Puerto Escondido there’s a beautiful beach called Playa Bacocho. That’s exactly where you can help this sea turtle conservation project by releasing baby turtles into the ocean at sunset. It’s an experience that you shouldn’t miss, so here’s all you need to know about the Vive Mar turtle release at playa Bacocho!
Getting to the Puerto Escondido Turtle Release
The idea was fascinating, so we set off in a taxi to Bacocho beach. It took about 20 minutes from where we were staying in La Punta and cost us 60 pesos each way. Once you arrive from the parking lot, the Vive Mar turtle hatchery will be on your right, you can’t miss it. The sign up for the release starts just before 5pm, so we strolled down the beach to snap some photos while we waited.
Make sure to get back to the sea turtle hatchery before 5:00 p.m. There will probably be a small line to sign up. The cost to participate in the sea turtle release in Puerto Escondido is 100 pesos per turtle. You’ll then receive a small bowl for each baby turtle you pay to release.
At that point, we were still quite skeptical about the whole process as we had no idea about what Vive Mar actually does or where our money would be going. Thankfully we can now say that participating in the release was an amazing experience worth every penny and more.
The Vive Mar Program
You then listen in on a ten minute explanation on the Vive Mar project and it’s importance on the shores of Puerto Escondido. It was an eye opening experience. We learned so much about the endangered condition of all species of marine turtles. The threats sea turtles face is mind boggling and they are truely amazing animals. There is actually a huge decline in nesting in Mexico and what Vive Mar is doing is so important to reverse this trend.
Every night, the employees patrol over 27 kilometres of coastline around the hatchery on ATVs. They search for nests to protect from human and natural threats. When they find any, they project the eggs and try to keep them at a specific temperature. This insures that the nest will hatch an even number of each sex.
Sea turtles eggs have temperature dependant sex determination and eggs below 27.7° C will hatch as males whereas eggs above 31° hatch as females. The range between the two produces a mix of both sex!
Eggs are also prone to be stolen by locals as it is traditional in the state of Oaxaca to eat turtle eggs as a delicacy. This is especially common during the holiday season. Just one of the reasons that patrolling the beach is of great importance here in Mexico.
That’s without mentioning the light pollution from cities disorienting the babies as they hatch, plastic pollution in the sea which they mistake for food and fishing nets which prevent them from coming to the surface to breath. The Leatherback has been the species most affected along the shores of Oaxaca and it’s population has decreased by 80% here in the last twenty years.
In fact, marine turtles are facing so many outside threats that today, only 1/1000 eggs survive and become an adult sized turtle.
All the money Vive Mar collects from the turtle release goes towards maintaining the hatchery, the ATVs and their licence. The program receives no outside funding from corporations or the government. They fully depend on tourism and donations to survive.
The Baby Sea Turtle Release
Once the talk concluded and we were fully convinced our money was going towards a good cause, we were given our baby turtles. About 40-50 people participated in the release that night. Make sure to take a few photos and then set off your baby turtle! We were very proud adoptive parents as they waddled off into the waves.
Only the exact amount of turtles needed for the registered participants are released at sunset. The rest of the turtles that have hatched that day are released by the employees at night. Vive Mar can release hundreds of hatchlings each night! This is such an amazing effort by such a small group of amazing people.
Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido
When visiting Puerto Escondido, most of the large hotels are located in the town proper, close to the main bus terminal. We actually decided to stay a bit out of the main town just a five minute drive down the beach near Punta Zicatela.
Zicatela is a surf spot that’s great for beginners and intermediates and we fell in love with this sleepy little town.
The beach is stunning and was relatively quiet when we visited even though it was just before the holidays. We found a cute little guesthouse on Airbnb for about 20 USD per night and we’re really happy with it.
If you have a bit more budget, we also heard great things about Casa de Olas Boutique Hotel. We couldn’t help but envy their beautiful decor every time we walked passed!
This past year of travel has had a huge impact on us. We’ve seen first hand the immense impact that climate change and plastic pollution is having on our planet. Don’t get us wrong this past year has been amazing! However, we all need to make a conscious effort to minimise our carbon footprint while traveling.
We will be getting involved in more conservation and environmental protection projets in the future. An evening at the turtle release Playa Bacocho is a perfect and fun way to make a positive impact.
If you have any other questions or concerns about participating in the turtle release in Puerto Escondido, feel free to contact us on Instagram or in the comments below!