Hi! I'm Karina, and I volunteered at the Sea Turtle camp in May 2015. I chose this program because I am currently a Marine Biology student at the University of South Carolina, and my passion... Karina Bayless
Health and Safety
Sea Turtle Conservation: Mexico
Submitted by Karina Bayless - University Of South Carolina | July 10, 2015
Hi! I'm Karina, and I volunteered at the Sea Turtle camp in May 2015. I chose this program because I am currently a Marine Biology student at the University of South Carolina, and my passion falls within conservation of our oceans in any way, and learning about these precious creatures that we overlook so easily.
Here is a little bit about my experience:
Arriving the first day at camp, was an unforgettable experience. Our rooms/huts were on the black sand just 100 feet or so from the waves, and surrounded by palm trees. A few buildings surrounding it were the bathroom, kitchen, equipment shack, turtle nest hatchery, and a nice place to relax outside provided with hammocks and a beautiful view of the beach. The first night I was there, the team had already dug up some turtle nest, so there were 20 + new sea turtle babies to release into the ocean.
Each week was set up schedule-based, where we would have the chance to go into town early in the morning to get laundry done, go to the internet cafe, eat at a restaurant, shop, and take in the towns culture as you walk through the town. After the trip to town we would all eat lunch that was provided. The food was good, and the fruit was amazing. Normally we would eat fajitas, burritos, etc., with the choice of rice, beans, and a meat, and sides varying (fruit, tortillas, guac, lettuce, etc). Normally before the trip to town, camp duties were required to be completed prior to leaving the camp. These required basic clean up of various facilities on camp.
After lunch, we would have a different "job" to do daily. These vary from going to the crocodile farm, digging the turtle nests/releasing turtles, watering the mangroves, planting the new mangroves, going into the lagoon to bird watch and take biodiversity data, and picking new mangrove seeds on the lagoon. Night patrol was another weekly scheduled duty, where each volunteer got to participate in regulating the beaches on a 4-wheeler, and looking out for pregnant turtles that would possibly be laying eggs in order to ensure safety for both the turtle, and the eggs. Night patrol was amazing, the stars are beautiful and so bright, in fact in one night I counted 7 shooting stars. (It was also a nice break from the daily heat we were used to working in :) ).
Weekends we had off, so volunteers had the opportunity to explore Mexico. Me and another volunteer took advantage of this each weekend and traveled 2-4 hours to Melaque, then Manzanillo. These beaches are very populated and there is lots to do around each town (tubing, scuba/snorkling, shopping, exploring night life, etc.)
In our spare time around camp, we could walk 5 minutes or so to the lagoon, straight down the road. Here we would either swim, play with the local puppies that were around daily, and hang out at the local mini restaurant/bar.
Overall, my favorite part of the experience was getting to be hands on with the newly hatched turtles, and watching them venture out to their new home. I loved comparing the two species of sea turtles, and observing their different characteristics/largely apparent size difference. It was amazing how quick after hatching from their eggs they could self-manage. Quickly they gain mobility, and once fully mobile, it is safe to release them into the ocean (to reduce risk of predation by the MANY crabs on camp.)
This experience was priceless, and I miss it so much already. I learned so much from the staff, towns-people, and other volunteers from various countries. If you have the chance to pick any program, I would say this is the one to pick. Living on the beach is already a deal-breaker, but saving turtles and helping conserve the surrounding environment is a plus.