Baby Turtles in Mexico

Baby Turtles in Mexico

Meet Miguel

Miguel is the zoologist based on Playa Las Estacas, the beach in front of the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta.

Miguel and myself collecting the baby turtles to be released

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.

Tortugario on Las Playas Estacas
Tortugario on Estacas Beach

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. 

Baby turlte
Baby Green Turtle

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. 

The Little One meeting a turtle for the first time
The Little One meeting a turtle for the first time

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.

The Baby Bum getting up close and personal with the hugely talented artist Corrie Wright
And Baby Bum getting a close encounter with Australian Artist Corrie Wright

Turtle Nursery 

Every morning Miguel scours the beach looking for clues and signs of a newly laid nest. 

Turtle nest found on the beach to be re-homed in the turtle nursery
Nest found on the beach

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. 

Soft and leathery freshly laid turtle egg
A freshly laid turtle egg

Hatching Turtles 

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. 

Freshly hatched turtles making their way to the surface
Turtles just breaking out to the surface after hatching in their nest

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! 

Handling the baby turtles with care
To handle the turtles we had to make sure our hands were covered in sand

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. 

Turtles being released into the sea when after the sun has gone down
Turtles are released as the sun sets

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. 

And they let the waves carry them away

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

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Really loved this post! I’m hoping to get to Puerto Vallarta next year 🙂

  2. This would be amazing! Great pictures and great opportunity. I have to do this some day!

  3. This is so cute. I would so love to see the baby turtles – what an amazing experience for everyone.

  4. Amazing how little they are! A week with turtles sounds so nice. Never been to Puerto Vallarta.

  5. Loved reading this post. Baby turtles are so stinkin cute! Spending a week with them sounds like such an awesome experience 🙂

  6. What an absolutely incredible experience and something I’ve been wanting to do for ages now! This had motivated me to tick it off my bucket list this year!

  7. That’s such an interesting experience, I have seen how turtles can be affected by the lights and noise of nearby hotels and clubs. It’s great that there’s a conservation effort happening for them. Perfect activity for the kids!

  8. I absolutely love your pictures!!! Feels like I can hold the cute little turtles myself! We’ve been to so many places in Mexico but haven’t been to Puerto Vallarta yet. Definitely adding it to our list!

  9. This sounds like an amazing experience! It’s great that you can work in supporting conservation efforts while visiting Puerto Vallarta!

  10. What an amazing experience for a child! I have always wanted to see the turtles making their way to the sea, it sounds like being involved in the entire process was even more amazing!

  11. I’ve been wondering how turtle releases work for a while, so thanks for the run-down! I’m glad that people around the world are doing this help bolster sea turtle populations– although I do wonder about the risk involved in (and reason for) handling the hatchlings with bare, sand-dusted hands. I’d be super curious to read more about it!

  12. Can non Hyatt guests go experience the turtle release? We’re there in 3 weeks and I’d love to do this with my kids.

    1. I don’t think this will be possible as i don’t think you can get on to the beach unless through the hotel. Turtles lay up and down the beaches in Puerto Vallarta as there are signs warning visitors to be mindful

  13. The place itself looks lovely. The process of re-nesting and afterwards releasing them into the wild seems invigorating. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience!

  14. What a great experience to be involved in. Was there any issue with holding the little baby turtles??

    1. Miguel only let a couple of people help and we were just one of the lucky ones. We had to ensure our hands were coated in sand so not to rub too much of our natural oils onto them

  15. I have always wanted to watch the baby turtles make their first trek to sea! But never realized how much went into the process. Must have been a great experience for you and your famiyl.

  16. What an incredible experience for you all!

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