Each year thousands of Green (Golfina) Turtles and dozens of endangered Leatherback (Laud) Turtles come to the shores of Playa Viva to lay their eggs. The turtles come to nest year round, with egg laying peaking during the rainy season, between May and September.
These fascinating creatures have varied little in their millennia of existence, surviving many geological and climate changes. However, over the past 50 years of commercial exploitation, poaching, and degradation of nesting and foraging habitats, most species of marine turtle have been placed on the endangered species list.
The Playa Viva Turtle Sanctuary was founded to protect turtles from predators and poachers alike. The Turtle Sanctuary at Playa Viva is staffed by an all-volunteer team comprised of members from the local community of Juluchuca. The turtle sanctuary, "La Tortuga Viva", which translates to "The Living Turtle", and its team of volunteers receive training and minimal support from SEMARNAT, the Mexican Department of Environmental Protection. The operation of La Tortuga Viva is a labor of love.
Playa Viva supports the sanctuary by providing vehicles and supplies for the incubation efforts, as well as food stipends for the volunteers. The volunteers come to the sanctuary in the late afternoon when eggs have been laid, and they work all night. They patrol the beaches and look for turtles or turtle tracks, collecting nests buried in the sand, and bringing them to the sanctuary just as the mother turtle left them. The eggs are kept safe within a protected incubation pen that keeps them out of the reach of predators.
The nests are marked with the number of eggs, the date the eggs were laid and the date they are due to hatch. Golfina eggs take 30 days to hatch and Laud take 45 days. Golfina eggs are the size of a ping pong ball and Laud eggs are the size of a billiard ball. When the turtles are ready to hatch, the volunteers remove the baby turtles from the incubation pen and get them ready to return to the ocean. We invite you to join
in the collection of eggs as well as the return of the baby turtles to the ocean. This is truly an experience of a lifetime.
In 2010, La Tortuga Viva was able to protect over 2000 nests that resulted in the release of over 100,000 baby turtles. With the assistance of the The SunPower Foundation, the team was able to build an electric fence around the sanctuary to protect it from predators. For updates and statistics of the work by La Tortuga Viva, see "A Sense of Place"
, the Playa Viva blog.