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As environmental awareness grows in Sayulita, so does the wildlife. Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita is a voluntary community project. The goal of this Sayulita organization is to relocate the sea turtle nests, as well as educate locals and visitors how to protect them from poaching. A huge effort has been put into effect for programs to educate young, local children about the importance of sea turtle preservation and environmental compassion. Sayulita is along the Nayarit Coast and is home to the Olive Ridley sea turtles -the second smallest and most abundant of sea turtles found in the world. However, we have also found Leatherback turtles, the largest of all living seaturtles, emerge from their nests. Locals and vistors enoy the sunset releasing of the hatchlings where many volunteers, families, and children help. Educating and protecting the beach helps the little baby turtles get a chance at life and has become an important goal within the Sayulita community.
The beaches of Sayulita are the perfect location for large numbers of sea turtles to nest. Although sea turtles live most of their lives at sea, the females return to land and lay their eggs. Female turtles always return to the precise location where they themselves were born to lay their own eggs. Because of this, it is extremely crucial to preserve the turtles natural habitat and preserve their species from poaching. After incubating for about two months in the beaches of Sayulita, the two-inch long turtles hatch, erupt as a group from their nest in the cool of the night, and scurry down the beach to the sea.
Campamento Tortuguero has been working hard to protect the turtles on Sayulita's beach for over seven years and have sucessfully liberated over 21,000 newborn turtles. Both the locals and volunteers are dedicated to help preserve the native sea turtles and their legacy. Sayulita has been blessed with the amout of volunteers, night patrols, official uniforms, and interns as more awareness of the local program has increased. The creators of Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita emphasize their wish to keep the local Sayulita beach front clean and are trying to provide an example to others about volunteerism and give back to nature. The main season when volunteers are needed most are from the months of June to January. Sayulita's Campamento Tortuguero is now part of a civil association known as Red Tortuguera A.C. that has similar turtle camps in different areas of Nayarit. This Sayulita association has not been provided any funds, so the turtle camp is entirely dependent on volunteers time and donations from locals and tourists.
Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita welcomes all local residents and those visiting Sayulita to adopt a turtle nest. Turtle nests are available for adoption for $500 pesos and you will have the opportunity to release the baby turtles when your nest hatches.By adopting a turtle nest, funds go directly to the camp for use of materials, flashlights, wood for the incubation area, marking points, markers, and more.
The turtle camp is on Sayulita's far north end of the beach just before Pajaro de Fuego. If coming from the street, the address is 196 Av del Palmar. It is a roped off area on the beach with marker sticks indicating each nest. Volunteers are needed to for nighttime beach patrol shifts and relocating the eggs. Be sure to check the North side of the beach every night from August - December around 6:30pm for the turtle release. Enjoy the sunset and help release the baby turtles that hatched that day!
Photography by Camilla Fuchs Photography and Val VanRheen