Five species of sea turtle are found along Mexico’s Baja California peninsula; a region that provides both nesting habitat and vital feeding grounds for turtles from as far away as Japan and Indonesia.
The Olive Ridley is the most abundant of all of the species of sea turtle. They use the beaches in the south of the Baja California peninsula and Todos Santos and the state of Sinaloa (Mainland) for reproduction. They frequent the bays, estuaries and pelagic zones of the region for feeding.
Leatherback mothers lay their eggs from October through March. The beaches north of Los Cabos, near the towns of Pescadero and Todos Santos, while as yet undeveloped, are too chilly through most of nesting season for the eggs to stay viable—only the early October nests have a chance.
Tortugueros Las Playitas is a non-profit organization working under a federal permit issued by SEMARNAT. The group operates a unique Incubation Greenhouse to enhance the hatching rate in critically endangered Leatherback nests. The Incubation greenhouse is built each year with donated materials and constructed by hard working volunteers.
Twice and sometimes three times a night during nesting season, members of the Tortugueros Las Playitas team patrol the local beaches. As soon as a nest is found, trained volunteers move the eggs into the cozy greenhouse.
As the hatch date approaches, volunteers keep a close eye on the nests. The hatchlings are released on the beach to make their way to the sea, where they’ll confront both natural and man-made dangers. The females who survive to adulthood will return to these beaches to lay their own eggs.
In the 2011-12 nesting season, 714 Leatherback eggs—from 13 nests were protected, and 412 Leatherback hatchlings were released. Hatch rates have exceeded expectations, and local schoolchildren, fishermen, and community members are catching the Tortugueros Las Playitas team’s enthusiasm for turtle conservation.
Volunteer forms can be downloaded from Todos Tortugueros website. Experience is not a requirement, all applicants are accepted provided there is space.