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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

Playa Bacocho turtle release Puerto Escondido #AMAZING!!

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Sea turtles have got to be one of our favourite animals, their cool persona (this opinion is possibly influenced by the turtles in Finding Nemo!), what’s not to love? When the opportunity to release baby turtles in Puerto Escondido worked perfectly with our itinerary it seemed it was meant to be. To find out the best way to take part in Playa Bacocho turtles release in Puerto Escondido, read on.


Turtle in coconut shell - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido
Turtle in coconut shell - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido

How to take part in Playa Bacocho turtles release Puerto Escondido


There are 2 ways to take part in the turtle release, either by joining a tour or alternatively, by making your own way to Playa Bacocho.


In all honesty, I can’t see how a tour could ever be good value for money, although they are advertised all over Puerto Escondido. Tours are well in excess of the value of what you get. You can even book through Trip Advisor for £31/$37 or Viator for $700MXN. All a tour gives you is transport to and from Playa Bacocho & includes the turtle release fee which is currently $150MXN.


How to get to Playa Bacocho to release turtles in Puerto Escondido


The turtle release happens every night at 5 pm. To get to Playa Bacocho from downtown Puerto Escondido it is possible to walk which will take about 30 minutes or take a taxi. If you are staying down the coast at La Punta Zicatela it would be a hell of a walk. We walked from downtown to Zicatela one day along the beach and it took 2 hours. Alternatively, a taxi would be $110MXN or head up to the highway and collectivos pass frequently to downtown for about $10MXN, then you could walk from there.


Once you are at Playa Bacocho you can’t miss the turtle egg hut/incubator.


Turtle incubation hut - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido
Turtle incubation hut - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido

VIVE MAR turtle release & VIVE MAR’s role in turtle conservation


VIVE MAR’s turtle release is an amazing project which raises money from eager tourists like us wanting to see and release the cute baby turtles. They patrol the beaches nightly to move the eggs into the safe incubation huts, to protect them from poaching, which is sadly one of the biggest threats, along the 27km of Oaxacan coastline between Manzanillo beach to Vigía beach.


Another key benefit of egg collection is that the incubation huts offer some protection against global warming. Turtles have temperature-dependent sex (TSD). Eggs which incubate below 27.7oC hatchlings will have an increased chance of being male. If the eggs incubate above 31oC the hatchlings are likely to be female.


Us guys just can’t handle the heat!!


The incubation huts aim to regulate the temperatures to produce a roughly equal number of male and female turtles.


VIVE MAR doesn’t just support turtles & actually stands for seas, mangroves, birds and reptiles. The money raised also goes towards keeping the beaches clean, highlighting the importance of recycling & provides educational programmes to schools & local communities regarding the importance of conservation.


Turtle release - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido
Turtle release - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido turtle release season


So you are wondering what time of the year do sea turtles hatch in Puerto Escondido and if will coincide with your visit to Puerto Escondido. The good news is that turtles visit Puerto Escondido all year round so it will be sure to coincide with your trip! 😁


Is VIVE MAR’s turtle release good or am I just feeding the seagulls?


There is no doubt that unfortunately some of the turtles that get released end up as dinner for the seagulls and the crabs. Unfortunately, that is nature & whether you release the turtles or they make their way to the sea completely unaided a baby turtle's chances of survival are less than 3%!


The one thing you could say is slightly unnatural, the turtles are normally drawn to the sea by moonlight so the time of day isn’t 100% natural. The problem is that the survival rate of the turtles without VIVE MAR was a lot lower. This is due to turtles being killed by humans. Also, turtles walk the wrong way when they hatch mistaking the lights of Puerto Escondido & other towns along the coast for the moonlight.


VIVE MAR doesn’t just release turtles at 5 pm, they patrol the beaches nightly & release at different points along the beach late at night & early in the morning. The 5 pm release may have a slightly lower survival rate but without it & the money it raises, the project couldn’t run.


Which species of turtle visit Playa Bancocho, Puerto Escondido


There are 7 species of turtle in the world and 4 of them visit Puerto Escondido, this is the reason why VIVE MAR is so important. Here are the species of turtle which visit Puerto Escondido;


Leatherback

The leatherback is the largest species of turtle in the world. They are named after their leathery shells which are usually black with different coloured splotches (black, white & blue). They can grow up to 63 inches (157.5cm) and weigh up to 900kg (2000lbs)!!

Status: Vulnerable


Hawksbill

The most endangered turtle in the world due to their beautiful shells. Unfortunately, humans poach them for their shells for decorations. Their shells have many different colours; orange, red and brown. They grow up to about half the size of a leatherback at around 35 inches (87.5cm) and weigh up to 70kg (150lb)

Status: Critically endangered


Green

Green turtles are the largest of the hard shelled turtle and named after their green colour. They grow up to about half the size of a leatherback at around 47 inches (117.5cm) and weight up to 160kg (350lb)

Status: Vulnerable


Olive Riley

Olive Ridley’s are olive green/grey coloured with a heart shaped top shell. They grow up to 28 inches (70cm) and weigh up to 50kg (110lbs).

Status: Vulnerable


Becca's turtle (Suzie) sunbathing - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido
Becca's turtle (Suzie) sunbathing - Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido

5 Turtle fun facts


Turtles live a long time!

Sea turtles can live over 100 years. Some indigenous groups state that they can live 400, 500 or even 1000 years!!


Turtles are dinosaurs!

Turtles have been on Earth a lot longer than humans. The earliest found turtles are estimated to be 110 million years old. Humans have only been around 300,000 years.


Turtles don’t have teeth

Although some turtles eat crabs, clams & crustaceans, they don’t have teeth. They have a hard bird-like beak to bite through hard shells.


Turtles can swim for miles

Turtles cover great distances during their migration, they use the thermal currents across the oceans to travel at great speeds. According to WWF, the longest on record is a leatherback which swam 13,000 miles (20,900km) over 647 days. That’s over 20 miles (32km) a day!


Turtles always know their way home

Turtles have an incredible homing sense and although travel far and wide they always return to where they were born to nest. Turtles don’t lay eggs for the first 10 years of life yet still remember the way home.

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