Sea Turtle & Coastal Ecology Conservation in Mexico
- Placement location: Tecoman, Colima
- Role: Work in sea turtle hatcheries, with captive breeding crocodiles and wildlife research
- Requirements: None. Anyone aged 16 and older can join
- Main Research Focus: Conservation of sea turtles, crocodiles and native birds
- Local Environment: Coastal
- Accommodation: Volunteer dormitories near to the beach
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
Our Conservation Project in Mexico gives you the chance to volunteer abroad right next to the ocean! Conservation volunteers in Mexico work alongside local experts on a variety of conservation and environmental projects, specifically focusing on the protection of turtles, crocodiles, and birds.
The project is based on the Pacific coast at Campamento Tecoman in the state of Colima. This research centre is a three hour drive from our main office and base in Guadalajara.
This project is ideal for anyone with an interest in nature and adventure. You will get to perform real hands-on work and learn about some fascinating wildlife. You do not need previous experience to take part in this project. Volunteers are welcome on a gap year, a career break, for academic research, or as part of a summer vacation.
Your Role as a Conservation & Environment Volunteer in Mexico
Time on this project is split between work at the turtle camp, the La Colorada Crocodile Centre, and a nearby mangrove lagoon. Volunteers can take part in a wide variety of activities, including:
- Working with trained staff to conserve endangered turtles, including:
- Taking part in night time beach patrols on foot and by ATV to collect turtle eggs.
- Re-burying the eggs at an enclosed area near our camp, called a “corral”.
- Working at the corral to collect newborn turtles as they emerge from the nests and releasing them into the sea. It typically takes six weeks for eggs to hatch.
- Spending one day each week at La Colorada Crocodile Centre, including:
- Helping to prepare food for the crocodiles.
- Taking biometric data and marking the crocodiles in nearby lagoons.
- Taking part in painting and maintenance work.
- Working with staff at the lagoon on a biodiversity project, including:
- Learning how to identify a large variety of birds.
- Recording information on data sheets and then entering it into a computer database back at the camp.
- Assisting with maintenance and construction work, including:
- Community beach clean-ups.
- Building and refurbishment work at the camp and La Colorada Crocodile Centre.
- Collecting palm leaves for replacing and maintaining the thatched palapa roofs at the camp.
Some of this work takes place at night, so volunteers work on a rotation. This normally involves working for around 5 hours each day. There is also plenty of time for volunteers to relax around the camp and enjoy some leisure time. This is especially true during the hottest part of the day when we avoid the midday sun!
There are turtles all year round in Mexico, but the high season is from June to December, with September usually being the busiest month. However, we are finding increasing numbers of rarer turtle species, such as Green Turtles and the gigantic Leatherback Turtles, nesting on the beach in all seasons.
From January to May there are fewer turtles nesting each night, allowing us to concentrate more on the other activities of the camp. These include extending the new corral where the collected eggs are reburied, and other general site maintenance.
The Goals of the Conservation & Environment Project in Mexico
The aims and objectives of this project involve the conservation and reintroduction of various species of wildlife. We are also involved in biodiversity studies. Conservation sites in Mexico are protected by SEMARNAT (The Department of Environmental Affairs and Natural Resources). In recognition of our commitment to conservation we have been entrusted to manage a section of coastline stretching 24km.
One of the conditions of our agreement with SEMARNAT is that we undertake significant scientific research on the coastline. We have a wide range of established and new projects which survive thanks to our volunteers. The three main species we work to conserve are Olive Ridley turtles, American crocodiles, and Morelet’s crocodiles.
Since 2006 we have also been working at a lagoon called "El Chupadero". Following several years of data collection by the volunteers the area was declared a Ramsar site in March 2009. A Ramsar site is awarded by the Ramsar Convention. They recognize wetlands as ecosystems that are extremely important for biodiversity. This is one of the most important titles a protected area can receive. It is testament to the hard work and effort put in by volunteers and staff.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Mexico Conservation Management Plan.
Accommodation and Food on the Conservation Project in Mexico
Volunteers on this project live in a basic dormitory-style bunk house on the edge of the beach. The local staff live in the building next to it. The camp has a central concrete building with a kitchen and there are showers and bathrooms close by. There is also a work area and a communal area for dining and relaxing. It does not take long to settle in and feel at home!
Lunch is provided by a local cook, with a late lunch being the main meal of the day. This is a great time to discuss the previous night's work. There is food provided in the kitchen for volunteers to make breakfast and dinner. There is a weekly work roster and this includes taking your turn at keeping the camp clean - there are all sorts of aspects to volunteering abroad! You'll also have time to relax or read, and many volunteers invest in one of Mexico's best inventions - the hammock!
Please note that if you arrive in Mexico on a Friday or Saturday, you will stay with a local host family in Guadalajara before travelling to the camp on Monday, as there are no conservation activities planned over the weekend.
This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.
Volunteers on the Conservation project may also like to combine this with some time on the Animal Care Project in Mexico. Here you will work in an animal rescue centre in Guadalajara.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Mexico.