In about an hour, the setting sun will reflect brilliant hues of orange and pink into the sky over the ocean at Bacocho Beach.
It’s one of my favorite places to watch the sunset. But that’s not why I’m here.
I’m here to take part in the nightly sea turtle release in Puerto Escondido.
For generations throughout much of the coastal world and Mexico, sea turtles and their eggs have been hunted for food. Currently, all seven species of sea turtles are in danger of extinction.
And while sentiment toward turtle hunting is changing, the work that these turtle rescue organizations do is important to protect the baby sea turtles from the variety of dangers they face.
In this article, I will explain how and where you can release a baby turtle in Puerto Escondido.
This article may contain affiliate links. This means if you click a link on our blog and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For full information, please see our disclosure.
Turtle Release in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca
As the Vivemar volunteer hands me a gourd with a baby turtle inside, I peek inside the larger container to see hundreds of newly hatched turtles squirming around, anxious to start their journey to the sea.
The pull of the ocean is powerful. And this baby turtle is displaying signs of strength as it tries to climb out of the side of the dried gourd bowl and make its way to the ocean.
Not wanting it to wear down its energy, I walk towards the release point, quickly take a few pictures, and lower the gourd to the beach.
The turtle knows exactly where to go as it wiggles onto the sand, and makes a path toward the ocean. This process is known as imprinting and will help the turtle know which beach to return to lay its own eggs.
Tip – Prepare your camera settings ahead of time. You will want to take pictures quickly so as not to stress the newly hatched sea turtle who is eager to starts it life in the ocean.
Where to Release Turtles in Puerto Escondido
Releasing turtles is easily one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Escondido. There are several beaches where you can participate in the sea turtle conservation efforts, although by far the most popular is Vivemar on Bacocho Beach.
Four of the seven sea turtles in the world come to the beaches of Oaxaca to lay their eggs. All of these turtles, the Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green Sea turtle are in danger of extinction and all of them are locally protected.
Did you know? Turtles return to the same beach where they were born to lay their own eggs. They have the ability to track the location by memorizing the magnetic fields.
When to Participate in a Turtle Release
Of the four turtles that lay their eggs on the beaches of Oaxaca, the Olive Ridley does so throughout the year. So it’s possible to release sea turtles in Puerto Escondido any time of year.
The season for the other three species – Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green Turtles is October through March. However, because the Leatherback and Hawksbill are critically endangered turtles, their release is restricted and not included for tourists.
How to Release Turtles, Puerto Escondido
Vivemar helps travelers experience releasing turtles in Puerto Escondido every evening at 5 pm. The turtles are newly hatched and ready to start their new life in the ocean.
No reservation is required. You simply need to show up at Playa Bacocho, one of my favorite beaches in Puerto Escondido.
When you arrive, look for the small building on the right with a nearby sign that explains the significance of the turtles in Oaxaca.
The cost is 100 pesos, which helps support Vivemar, the volunteers, and the turtle rescue program. Read to the end to learn about the remarkable work Vivemar does to increase awareness of conservation in Puerto Escondido.
If you prefer, you can book this tour which includes transportation to a nearby beach to release turtles.
Bonus Wednesday Movie on the Beach
If you’re able to time the turtle release on a Wednesday evening, stay after the sunset to watch a movie next to the ocean. During high season (roughly Nov-March), Villasol Beach Club hosts Cine en la Playa.
You can check which movie will be playing on their Facebook page (posted a day or two in advance). There is no cost for the movie but you are expected to buy something from the bar or restaurant.
Did you know? Only about 1 in 1,000 turtle hatchlings make it to adulthood. They face various threats from the time the eggs are laid into their early life in the ocean. The goal of these sea turtle release programs is to increase the likelihood of survival.
ViveMar’s Conservation Efforts
For over 10 years, Vivemar has concentrated on the conservation of the coastal region near Puerto Escondido.
The organization is part of a network of community cooperatives that work to protect the coast of Oaxaca and its beaches.
Currently, Vivemar protects more than 27 km (16 miles) of coastline from Playa Manzanillo to Vigía beach.
Over the last four years, they have released more than 500,000 turtles into the Pacific Ocean on the coast of Oaxaca. But their focus is more than just sea turtles.
The focus is on the conservation of the entire ecosystem, as is evident by the name. Vive M.A.R., references the ocean (mar), mangroves (manglares), birds (aves), and reptiles (reptiles).
In an effort to raise awareness in the communities, they have created programs to educate school children about the importance of taking care of the environment. They discuss the importance of protecting the turtles, recycling, and keeping the rivers clean.
Volunteering with Vivemar in Puerto Escondido
Vivemar has also created a volunteer program that accepts people from all over the world. The underlying goal is to share knowledge and experiences while developing conservation skills. You can learn more and apply on their website.
Questions About Releasing Turtles In Puerto Escondido
How to release baby turtles in Puerto Escondido
There are a couple of options to release baby turtles in Puerto Escondido. You can participate in the nightly turtle release hosted by Vive Mar at Bacocho Beach. Or, for a more private experience, you can book a sea turtle release tour which includes transportation to a nearby beach.
Where can I release turtles in Puerto Escondido?
There are several beaches where you can release turtles in Puerto Escondido. The most popular is Bacocho Beach where Vive Mar hosts a nightly turtle release. There are other organizations known for releasing turtles in Puerto Escondido on beaches further from the city. One group, called Palmarito, is located west of the city.
When can you release turtles in Puerto Escondido?
You can release turtles in Puerto Escondido throughout the year. The Olive Ridley turtle is present all year round. The season for Leatherback, Green, and Hawksbill turtles is October to March.
How do you release a baby turtle?
When you release a baby turtle, the turtle will be given to you in a container of some sort. When instructed, lower the container to the sand, facing the ocean. Allow the turtle to crawl out of the container on its own. The turtle will slowly make its way into the sea.
Is it OK to touch baby turtles?
It is not okay to touch baby turtles. Baby turtles are very delicate and by touching them you could hurt their soft shell and organs or break their food sac. It’s also hypothesized that baby turtles imprint on the sand where they are born. By touching the turtle, the oils from your hand can impede this incredible process.
Hola! Soy Julien Casanova. And Oaxaca stole my heart.
When I set off to explore Mexico again, I found myself always coming back to Oaxaca. The vibrant culture, wonderful people, stunning beaches, and incredible food. All of it stole my heart and suddenly I desired to stay in one place. For a while at least. After living in Oaxaca for over a year, I decided to share my love for this area of Mexico.