Baby Sea Turtle Release in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
The laid-back beach town of Puerto Escondido is one of the hidden gems on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. With several beautiful beaches to choose from, a carefree paradise setting, and the best fish tacos in the region, there are plenty of reasons to love Puerto Escondido. Aside from spending all day at the stunning beaches, one of the must-do experiences here is releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean.
The Vive Mar Baby Turtle Release Center is a small organization run entirely by volunteers. During hatching season, you can find them at Playa Bacocho where they do daily sea turtle releases. It is free if you just want to watch the sea turtle release but if you want to release one yourself, it only costs 100 pesos or around $5 US.
While the volunteers play an integral role in protecting the eggs until they hatch, once the sea turtles set flipper on the sand for the first time, they are on their own. The entire process of the release tries to maintain the natural order of things so human interference is as minimal as possible. Even touching the baby sea turtles with your bare hands can negatively impact their development and chance of survival so the turtles are put in little jicara bowls where you can proceed with the inevitable photoshoot with your hatchling. The sea turtles are born on the same day they are released so make sure to wish them happy birthday before releasing them onto the beach!
Once they hop out of the bowl, the little sea turtles are practically on their own. They all go at different paces but eventually, even the sleepiest little turtle will start waddling towards the ocean. At this point, the last real threat to the turtles are the crabs that try to drag them into their holes. Although you might be tempted to go run and save your turtle, the most you can do is throw some sand at the crab to try and deter it from pursuing the turtle. Fortunately, it is very rare that the crab actually succeeds.
Once the turtles make it to the ocean, their survival rate increases drastically from a measly 2% to 20%. The factors that often threaten the hatchling turtles are the midday heat and predatory birds which is why the organization often waits until later in the day to release the hatched turtles into the ocean. By the evening, the heat will not be as brutal for the baby turtles and the predatory birds will likely have called it a day.
Your time with the baby turtles will be short and sweet but it is an amazing experience that helps the turtles and the organizations that preserve them. After releasing the turtles, you can walk over to Playa Coral for the best sunset spot in Puerto Escondido and cap off a perfect day.