Sea turtle conservation on the coast of Mexico

  • Sea turtle conservation, working alongside a marine biologist collecting and conserving endangered turtles
  • A stunning rural setting in Mexico
  • Living and working with a community of like-minded international volunteers
  • Suitable for gap year students and volunteers under 18 years old

Project summary

Sea turtle conservation is the aim of this marine wildlife conservation project on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It protects endangered olive ridley turtles, leatherback and rare eastern pacific green turtles from both poachers and predators. All are protected by international and Mexican law. The project achieves this by locating, collecting and incubating the thousands of eggs laid on the beach between June and November, an arduous job that can only realistically be done through the support of numerous willing volunteers.

Volunteers then help release the baby turtles back into the ocean after approximately 45 days incubation.

In addition to protecting the eggs, the project promotes environmental awareness to local people and village school-children, which is the basis for any longer term solution to the issues.

The turtle camp is remote and surrounded by stunning, isolated beaches. There is however a good social life associated with the village and other volunteers on the turtle conservation project. There is a healthy population of dolphins and humpback whales and volunteers have the unusual opportunity of viewing them from the project boat.

This sea turtle conservation project is suitable for volunteers under the age of 18, as well as gap year students and conservation enthusiasts.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Volunteers on this sea turtle conservation project comb the expansive length of sandy beaches every night, looking for nests, eggs and mature female turtles as they magically appear out of the ocean. The eggs are taken back to a protected hatchery which needs daily maintenance. After 45 days of incubation the baby turtles hatch and are carefully released into the ocean.

Volunteers take shifts patrolling the beaches during evening and in the middle of the night. Patrols are done on either quad bike or foot and despite the wonderful setting, the work and timing means this becomes arduous.

Volunteers help in all aspects of maintaining the camp, plus additional conservation work in the area, such as the regeneration of mangroves, planting of palm trees and cleaning the beaches and camp itself.

Volunteers will come away with extensive understanding of the turtle life-cycle and behaviour as well as other related issues of marine ecology and sea turtle conservation.

Read Eliza’s review of her time at the project

How you can make a difference

Outside the protected areas the turtles are critically endangered. Only a small number of environmentally aware Mexican people can afford to participate in this type of work and so international volunteers do a good job of both preserving the species and raising awareness from local people. Children in particular participate and in the fullness of time might take over the project in its entirety.

What is distinctive about this project:

This sea turtle conservation project is situated in a beautiful, rural location on a beach. It provides hands on conservation work to those with no previous experience with immediately recognizable, tangible results. The aspect of working with other volunteers in a camp will be attractive to many people.


Blue Tiger Features:

This sea turtle conservation project is in many ways idyllic, but volunteers should be aware it is physically demanding. You will have to cope with late nights working on the beach patrol, and endure very hot days on the beach, living in simple campsite accommodation that comes with its fair share of sand.

Volunteers live in tents although there are showers and toilets, and the camp has a number of permanent wooden buildings for cooking and shared facilities.

If you like outdoors life, sun and sand, and can tolerate late nights working then this is for you. The pay-off is some great conservation work and a stunning beach setting to reflect on your achievements.


The peak season is July to October, when there are both more turtle nestings and more volunteers trying to keep up. Nesting continues through to December, however, and volunteers are still required for this period which often offers a more tranquil pace for those who can volunteer outside of the summer peak.


English is broadly spoken in the project although the two principal project managers speak Spanish and would encourage you to practice yourself.

Experience required:

There is no specific experience required, but the nature of the work demands that volunteers have an active interest and respect for the sea turtle conservation work. Volunteers will need to have a reasonable level of fitness for patrolling the beach, and should be comfortable with an outdoors ‘camping’ lifestyle, as the facilities are basic.

Good to know:

A beautiful project on the pacific coast, you will be with other international volunteers and close to a small local village for a little local culture. There is not much local connectivity there, with only limited time on a shared computer being offered to volunteers to tell their friends and family what a great time they are having.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support. One week of 121 tuition in a small group.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Whale watching
  • Beaches
  • The Old Town

Country co-ordinator

Greta Ruiz

Greta lives close to our project base in Puerto Vallarta and has been working with us since 2006. She lived in London for three years where she completed her MSc in veterinary science. In addition to supporting our volunteers she now works as a Pilates instructor. She is brilliantly organised and works relentlessly to improve our programmes and offer support to the Mexico volunteers.

About Mexico