Puerto Vallarta as one of the most popular Mexican beach resorts for foreign tourists has been investing to protect the local environment by supporting local sea turtle protection programmes for thirty years.
Mexico has developed one of the most advanced sea turtle protection programmes globally. When you consider that tourism and travel to Mexico at the top position as the country's main export in North America's fastest-growing economy, it was inevitable that there would be a marriage between tourism and environmental protection.
The growing concern for nature and a healthy ecology is obvious when you analyze the growing number of environmental organizations all over the country, including the creation of national & marine parks, turtles being added to the list of endangered species, the understanding of environmental problems & waste management programmes.
Green Turtle (Chelonia agassizii)
The sea turtle conservation programme enjoys strong government, private sector & tourism support all over Mexico. All the coastal states in Mexico, many of which are home to a number of Mexican beach resorts, providing support & funding for marine turtle conservation programmes.
In Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state, Vallarta hotels, restaurants and also tour operators, have joined forces making the annual turtle breeding season (which runs from about July to December), a new opportunity a new sustainable eco-tourism event.
Created in 1981, the Puerto Vallarta sea turtle conservation programme now draws thousands of tourists to many different Mexican beach resorts on the Pacific coast. Many Puerto Vallarta hotels now actively participate in turtle conservation programs, where sometimes even travelers and local boats are allowed to participate. Many leading Puerto Vallarta hotels including Marriott Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn & smaller hotels such as Hotel Rosita, in Puerto Vallarta, provide guests with a unique opportunity to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
While most marine turtles that return to Puerto Vallarta to do so at night time, hotel guests and tourists at many of the hundreds of Vallarta restaurants & bars that line the Malecon have been lucky enough to witness the meticulous performance of the mother turtle while she works tirelessly to bury her eggs in a nest that can take many hours to dig and then cover-up. Eggs are then collected and recorded by local officials and then are taken to hatcheries, where they are monitored, protected and cared for until their release.
For those interested in participating while on their vacation, turtle releases run every night to give the hatchlings the best chance of survival. Participating guests are provided with a brief lecture on sea turtles, their environment plus their travel patterns around the world oceans, often dangerous waters. Children who participate in these marine turtle release programmes are given the honor of naming the baby turtles as they're released into the Pacific Ocean.
Hotels participating in the programme are:
- Marriott Puerto Vallarta (has its own turtle area)
- Hotel Velas Vallarta (through Non-Profit Org: Nuestra Tierra AC.)
- Dreams Puerto Vallarta
- Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort
- Plaza Pelicanos Club Beach Resort
- Sunset Plaza Beach Resort and Spa
- Hotel El Pescador
- Hola Friendly Vallarta
- Hotel Barcelo
- Hotel Blue Bay Los Angeles Locos Tenacatita
- Punta Serena Villas and Spa (Costa Alegre) (SEMARNAP certified eco project)
To learn more about how you can participate in these fun and educational activities while enjoying the best of this Mexican beach resort destination, contact any of the above names hotels.
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
A bit more on Mexico's Marine Turtle Protection Program:
The beaches of Mexico are breeding areas for six of the seven marines species of turtles, the most common species in the Puerto Vallarta Banderas Bay:
- Olive Ridley turtle, or "Golfina (Lepidochelys olivacea)
- Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Green turtle (Chelonia agassizii)
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)
All visit the coastal waters & beaches along the coast in Puerto Vallarta.
The importance of Puerto Vallarta's turtle protection programmes must not be underestimated as the various sea turtle species are increasingly in danger of extinction around the world. Even though the exact number of remaining sea turtles is unknown, Mexican authorities and the local tourism trust (Fideicomiso) are committed to giving these beautiful and mysterious creatures a helping hand.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Studies show that for every thousand baby turtles hatchlings only one will make it into reproductive adulthood. To complicate matters, even more, sea turtles reach their reproductive maturity between 8 and 12 years of age, so they face low survival rates from the day they're released into the Pacific Ocean. Natural predation, increased global development on beaches, overfishing in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, pollution and other variables have put a strain on the already diminishing sea turtle population if you add the fact that these creatures only reproduce on the beaches on which they were born, makes their survival even more difficult.
But let us not think it is all over, there is a lot to celebrate! Puerto Vallarta's sea turtle conservation programme continues to recollect, care for and release thousands of baby turtles into the ocean every year. Government, schools & tourism in Puerto Vallarta now understand that everything in this world is related and that the survival and welfare of humans as a species depends on the protection of all others. The marriage between environmental protection & economic development, not only in Puerto Vallarta & Mexico, makes the annual return of these magnificent sea turtles an event to celebrate.