Today I am interviewing Alejandra Aguirre, the biologist responsible for Sayulita’s Turtle Protection Camp. It’s early in the morning, and we are sitting at a table at the site listening to the crashing waves and watching early risers walk by. We won’t be releasing any turtles today, but will be talking about something equally important, the need to gather volunteers to protect the turtle eggs from poachers and predatory animals. As we sit and chat, a family of tourists stop by to inquire about turtle release. Their interest is great, but what Alejandra really needs are volunteers.
Alejandra- how many people are currently volunteering?
We have about 10 volunteers at the moment. The problem is they are volunteers and don’t have a specific work schedule and sometimes aren’t available when we need them most. We never know exactly when a turtle will be showing up to lay her eggs. Our volunteers do the best they can, but of course there are moments when they cannot be here. We always need more volunteers, especially for the night patrol.
What is it exactly that volunteers are helping with?
During the night patrol, which is our most important task and what we need help with the most, our volunteers get to collect the eggs for their protection and move them to a safe location for incubation. This is done for their safety. During the collecting of the eggs the volunteers make sure the turtle is healthy and in good shape, they measure the turtle and write down the hour and location.
There is also a day patrol, where they collect the eggs and do a general beach clean up. Here the volunteers also participate in organizing and releasing the baby turtles, which is always a lot of fun. We don’t have specific hours for the volunteers, it depends on the turtles!
What do you think is the best part about volunteering?
I think the best part is knowing that we are helping to protect a species that is in danger and to be able to share the beautiful experience of taking care of the turtles and helping the species survive. Knowing that our collaboration is an important part of helping the species re-populate is very satisfying. A big part of volunteering is helping to teach and educate the people who come to watch the turtle release, so that we can spread information about how to take care of our planet and ocean.
Do you work with any of the schools of the area?
I think it is very important to educate the children. We work with children from Costa Verde, the Primaria Damian Carmona of Sayulita and the children from Casa Clü. We bring them to the camp for them to receive instructions on how to take care of our environment and we do other activities with them as well, such as beach clean ups and creative projects. We also take a group of children to Mazatlan every year, where they participate in a week of seminars on a variety of themes, including the protection of the turtles.
To help the cause and volunteer, you can...
The best way to reach out is through our FaceBook page or showing up in person. We are located on the North End of the beach. Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a local resident to reach out and help. Even if you are on vacation and need some fun educational activity to do with your family, you are welcome to help. The Turtle Camp is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to protect the turtles. Any help is much appreciated.
Another great way to help is by sponsoring a nest. SayulitaLife is proud to say we sponsor one every season!