Turtle season is one of the most fascinating periods of time in the Riviera Nayarit, and although the entire process is important—from the minute the turtle arrives to lay its eggs on the beach until the hatchlings are released—it is this last phase that has become one of the destination’s tourist attractions.
Normally, the first turtle releases take place during the second half of July and conclude in November; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the beaches in the state of Nayarit continue to be closed until further notice. This 2020-2021 season, releases with the public will be limited.
The good news is that collection, incubation, and release in the turtle camps has not stopped, although everything is being conducted following special security and hygiene measures.
A protected species in the Rivera Nayarit
The sea turtle is the official image of Riviera Nayarit. It is the basis of the commitment the destination has established the programs for the protection of this reptile, in conjunction with the National Commission of Protected Areas (Conanp) and regional civil associations.
The beaches in the hotel zones are excellent arrival areas. Historically, the beach at Nuevo Vallarta registers the highest number of nests in the tourist corridor, with more than 9 thousand, as well as over 400 thousand turtles released per season, according to data from Conanp’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program.
While the Nuevo Vallarta Sea Turtle Protection and Conservation Center is the most popular, there are at least a dozen more that do important work, including the ones at Careyeros-Litibú in Punta de Mita; Sayulita, Lo de Marcos and San Pancho in Banderas Bay; Punta Raza, El Naranjo, Boca de Chila, and Platanitos-Playa las Tortugas, in the municipality of Compostela, not to mention other camps located on the beaches in the northern part of the state: San Blas, La Puntilla, El Sesteo, and Los Corchos. Together they release more than a million hatchlings per season.
Though many hatchlings are born, in reality very few survive. According to the experts, it’s estimated that of every thousand released, only one or two will reach adulthood and reproduce.
It’s important to underline that the sea turtle continues to be a protected species under the Official Mexican Regulation NOM-162-SEMARNAT-2012; accordingly, the exploitation of its eggs is a crime.
An activity on pause
We know the release of sea turtles is restricted this season in the Riviera Nayarit, but we still want to share a series of recommendations for the protection of these reptiles that will be useful when you can finally travel to our destination:
+ Keep the beaches clean: Don’t pollute, particularly with plastic bottles and trash bags, as the turtles might confuse the bags with jellyfish, swallow them, and die of asphyxiation.
+ Respect their space: If you see a turtle coming out of the water onto the beach, don’t startle it, don’t touch it or play with it, don’t take flash pictures; you must simply respect it, give it its space, and leave it alone.
+ If you should find a turtle nest: Call the Conanp camp technical staff; if they’re not available, the Civil Protection staff will take care of the hatchlings or eggs.
+ Do not move the eggs unless it’s an emergency, such as their being exposed by the tide or in the path of a swell or a mudslide.
+ If you find dead turtles: You must report them to the Conanp Camp so a biologist can perform the corresponding registration and procedures.
+ Be aware of limitations: Both regarding the technical and environmental personnel when you call the camp; it takes time to get from one place to another. Please be patient.
Official contact: Conanp: 322 221 3549 | Profepa Nayarit Office: (311) 214 3591 | Civil Protection Staff: 322 113 3255.
Visit the website: www.profepa.gob.mx
The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association (AHMBB) continue to work together to advance the region, strengthening its promotion and helping position it on the national map with the support of the Government of the State of Nayarit via the Tourism Promotion Trust (Fiprotur).