Platanitos Sea Turtle Camp and Volunteers
The Platanitos Sea Turtle Camp at Playa Las Tortugas is located on the Pacific coast approximately 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta in the State of Nayarit, Mexico. The Camp is regulated and directed by Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP), part of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources.
The Turtle Camp’s home is an exceptional place. It lies between the beach and over 1100 acres of pristine salt-water tidal estuary on the north end of 11 miles of beach branded as “Costa Tortuga” on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. East of the Camp are channels and pools filled with mangroves, waterfowl, shrimp, and an enormous array of other flora and fauna. Along with species of sea turtle that nest on the beach, the estuary is nesting habitat for a large number of birds including many that migrate from the Rocky Mountain corridor. Just east of the estuary, semi-tropical forested hills begin rising to eventually give form to the Sierra Madre, home to native Indian tribes such as the Cora and colorful Huichol.
Selva Negra (Black Forest), a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment, is helping to fund operation the Platanitos Sea Turtle Camp along with the developer and homeowners of Playa Las Tortugas. Selva Negra was founded and is operated by the musical group Mana.
Turtle Camp Ecovolunteers
The Turtle Camp depends on donations and ecovolunteers to help it function. Volunteers from towns and cities like Guadalajara, Mexico, as well as international volunteers, help by donating their labor. The ecovolunteers pay their own expenses to cover meals and incidental costs.
Ecovolunteer Duties and their Environment
The Turtle Camp is a work in progress. It is made more successful by the help of volunteers, both international and national who donate their time and physical labor to help preserve the endangered sea turtles that come to nest at Costa Tortuga every year.
The primary volunteer duties are carried out at night when the sea turtles leave the ocean to lay their eggs and include patrolling the beach, even in stormy weather, collecting turtle eggs, and releasing hatchlings to the sea. By joining in this extraordinary event volunteers will realize that their help truly improves the odds of survival for these gentle creatures. In addition to working on turtle patrol the volunteers are expected to help with cooking and cleaning duties in the camp.
As the Turtle Camp is located away from city life, the living conditions are different from what many are accustomed to. The weather is subtropical in the summer and many insects are present. Utilities (i.e., running water and electricity) are basic and may be temporarily lost due to weather or mechanical failure.
While there is always a lot of work to be done, there is also time to relax and make new friends. The experience gained by each individual during their visit here will depend on their desire to enjoy life and to blend into the Mexican culture, but by keeping an open mind volunteers are sure see many benefits from their time in the Turtle Camp.
Platanitos (at Playa Las Tortugas) Sea Turtle Camp Volunteer Program 2009 - 2010
Volunteers can generally be categorized in three classes which are long-term, short-term, and visiting volunteers:
Long-term volunteers are those who stay two or more weeks and participate at least 6 hours of each 24 hours in turtle camp conservation activities.
Short-term volunteers are persons who help in the Camp for seven to thirteen nights and participate at least 6 hours of each 24 hours in turtle camp conservation activities.
Visiting volunteers are persons who come for one to six nights and participate for typically 1 or 2 hours up to possibly 4 or 5 hours per night. Visiting volunteers may be local visitors, local students, or tourism guests who have an interest in volunteering.
Visiting and short-term volunteers can require the same number of hours of training, education, or guidance as long-term volunteers.
In order that the camp staff, long-term, short-term, and visiting volunteers can spend more time involved directly in conservation and protection work, a seasonal full-time volunteer coordinator is present at the camp. By having a volunteer coordinator, volunteers receive the attention and education necessary to make their volunteer experience worthwhile and enjoyable.
The seasonal full-time volunteer coordinator also helps camp staff with other camp duties when volunteers are not present.
To help pay the cost of volunteer coordinator and provide other essential funding for the turtle camp, every turtle camp volunteer or visitor will be asked to donate a small daily fee. Long-term volunteers will be asked donate a minimum of $45 pesos/day (about $4.25 USD) and short-term or visiting volunteers a minimum of $75 pesos/day (about $7.00 USD). These donations will in part be used to fund the cost of the volunteer coordinator as well as other expenses for the camp. From these donations $20 pesos/day of the amount (about $2.00 USD) will be deposited to a federal conservation fund of which 85% comes back directly to the turtle camp to pay for supplies and equipment.
Deposit in Guarantee for Long-term and Short-Term Volunteers
In addition to the small daily donation, long-term and short-term volunteers are required to post a deposit of $125 USD to guarantee a place is reserved for them at the Camp. If a volunteer does not arrive to participate or does not complete their agreed days of service, then the deposit could be forfeit unless the agreement was broken due to medical reasons or other reasons beyond the control of the volunteer. The deposit could also be forfeit if a volunteer disregards Camp rules. We require a deposit because volunteer space is limited, and if a volunteer doesn’t show up or leaves before completing the time committed the conservation effort can be left without adequate help.
Availability and Volunteer Registration for 7 Days or More
Donations for Visitors of Less Than One Week
Donations from visitors or visiting volunteers who will be spending less than one week at the Camp can also be paid in cash or check on-site. We appreciate visitors being prepared to do so …. and thank you for your understanding and support. Long-term (more than 14 days) and short-term (7 to 14 days) volunteers must be pre-registered and pre-paid.