Sayulita Life's $5,000 January Donation goes to the "Conservación de Tortugas Sayulita A.C"! I had the pleasure of speaking to Ren, the program manager of the organization, as well as a devoted volunteer. She spoke to me about the importance of protecting the Olive Ridley sea turtle and creating educational programs for the local schools.
The Olive Ridley sea turtle (Tortuga Golfina) is one of the seven species of sea turtles present in México. Currently, six of the seven species are listed as vulnerable or endangered, the Olive Ridley being one of them. In the Mexican Pacific, the Olive Ridley subpopulation is listed as endangered by SEMARNAT, although globally is listed as vulnerable, making conservation efforts in this area direr.
The Olive Ridley is found not only in Nayarit and other states, such as Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Baja California, it has a wide global presence, mainly in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Central Atlantic oceans. They live and nest in tropical areas around the world, such as México, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panamá, Angola, Congo, Gabón, India, and Australia. In the Eastern Pacific, it is found from California and the Gulf of California (México) to the northern border of Chile. Olive Ridley's main threats can be divided into two categories: human and non-human. Human threats being the most significant can be subdivided into two more categories: direct and indirect. Direct threats include poaching for eggs within a local/regional illegal market and turtle meat consumption. Indirect threats are by-catch fishing from trawling and other fishing methods, light and noise pollution from human activity, plastic and chemical pollution, and unregulated development in natural areas. The natural threats are mainly from fish, crabs, and birds in the early stages of their life. Once they are fully developed, the Olive Ridley faces minimal natural threats.
1. Who is the donation going to?
The money is kept in the bank account of the organization. All the funds collected from kind donations are saved for multiple uses: we will pay for our needed materials to run the camp. The yearly expenses of the camp surpass $60,000 MXN ($3,000 USD). This includes tents, flashlights, gloves, metal structures, incubation boxes, production of merchandise, etc. After 10 years of work, no one has yet to collect a salary from this activity, which we hope will change soon. We are also fundraising to create scholarships for local kids to go on educational trips and raise the next generation of conservationists and enthusiasts.
2. What is the organization and what do they do?
Turtle Conservation Sayulita (Conservación de Tortugas Sayulita) was founded in 2012 by marine biologist Alejandra Aguirre, who established the camp’s mission to protect and preserve the Olive Ridley population on the coast of Sayulita. By working from a grassroots lens, with a tight-knit group of collaborators and volunteers, this organization has weathered several disruptions to its operations, persevering and achieving consistent results with minimal equipment, funding, and staffing. Over the last 10 years, STC has rescued approximately 3,750 nests, amounting to an estimated 207,550 hatchlings released into the ocean.
3. How long have they been around?
10 years (2022 was our 10th anniversary)
4. What are some of the services we offer?
We work closely with the local community and visitors in expanding conservation efforts, by forming part of our volunteer staff, they assist in beach patrolling, camp activities, and turtle releases. We offer people the experience of safely interacting with the olive ridley sea turtle, which is sadly endangered. It is through these platforms which we have conversations with people to not only inform and create a pleasant experience, we also hope to create awareness and raise attention to the hardships both the turtles and ourselves are dealing with, by not receiving help from the government, but also not being supported by local businesses and other individuals in Sayulita, who have been detrimental to the preservation of sea turtles.
5. What will the money be used for?
Since our expenses are quite big, we will direct these funds to create signs to be posted at the beach to alert people of the necessary precautions to take if encountering turtles and how to best preserve the natural area they are in.
6. Where can people donate?
https://www.paypal.com/donate?campaign_id=RA6WBJRE3RYFE (new campaign will start soon)
7. Anything else to add?
Our biggest focus is to raise awareness and education from the local community. We have dealt with a lot of poaching, an estimated 30 to 40% of all the nests are stolen by poachers. They are known in town, yet no one is willing to help us to mitigate this harmful practice. Several people have broken into our tent and damaged nests and stolen property because we don't have our own space to secure the nests and hatchlings, as well as our own staff can't operate safely. We do not receive enough support and this can be a great community effort to embark together.
Our biggest milestone for the 2023 season is to finally secure a permanent piece of land to host events, volunteers, and releases, and to create an educational center in which students from local schools can come and learn, interact and develop skills and knowledge to hopefully pursue a career in conservation, or at least, to plant a seed of curiosity and sensibility for this planet, which needs the younger generations to step up in dramatic fashion if we are to survive.