Miguel is the zoologist based on Playa Las Estacas, the beach in front of the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta.
He runs a programme that is designed to help high numbers of baby turtles return to the sea from the nest. To give them the best start in life he looks after the eggs and newly hatched baby turtles in a torugario or turtle nursery.
The tortugario on Playa Las Estacas is a well established programme which was started by hotel owners Camino Real, who owned the site from the 1970s. Thankfully the turtle nursery has been kept going by the current owners, the Hyatt group.
Meet the Turtles
The turtles that lay on Playa Las Estacas are Verde Olibo – Green Turtles.
Because they live in the tropics, these turtles can lay eggs all year round, however, they mainly lay in the warmest months of the year.
Turtles come to shore in the darkest part of the night to dig and lay their nests. If you know what you are looking for you might be able to see their tracks in the sand the next morning.
Turtles can lay between 50 – 140 eggs in each nest and it’s thought that only 5% of each nest makes it to adulthood as they make great prey for a host of different predators.
Every morning Miguel scours the beach looking for clues and signs of a newly laid nest.
Once he finds one he carefully digs the eggs up and then makes them a new nest in the turtle nursery.
We were lucky enough to help Miguel re-home one of these nests. We also got to name the nest and wrote up our very own sign that told Miguel where the nest was, how many eggs were in the nest and when the nest was dug.
The perfectly round eggs are soft and leathery so great care is taken to make sure they make it to their new home safely.
The eggs take around 45 days to hatch out of the nest and the baby turtles can take up to 14 hours to make their way from the egg to the surface.
It’s hard not to get excited seeing 100+ amazingly cute baby turtles wobbling around the turtle nursery!
It’s even better when Miguel invites you to help gather them up to protect them from the sea birds and prepare them for release!
Before touching the turtles we had to ensure our hands were covered with sand. This was to make sure we didn’t transfer the natural oils from our hands onto the turtles.
Then it was a case of being very gentle, whilst, of course, cooing over all the babies!
Releasing the Turtles
The turtles are then released into the sea at about 8pm the same night.
They are released under the cover of darkness to give them the very best start in life as at this time there are less predators about.
They are placed at the edge of the water and as they scramble into the waves they tumble into the break and get towed into the sea.
Then that’s it. The nursery’s job is done and mother nature takes care of the rest.
Take a look at what all inclusive means at the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico