Sea Turtle & Coastal Ecology Conservation Volunteer Projects in Mexico
- Placement location: Tecoman, Colima
- Role: Work in sea turtle hatcheries, with captive breeding crocodiles and wildlife research
- Main Research Focus: Conservation of sea turtles, crocodiles and native birds
- Local Environment: Coastal
- Accommodation: Volunteer dormitories near to the beach
- Price: From
- What's included? Food, accommodation, airport transfers, insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 support
- What's not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
Our Conservation & Environment Project in Mexico is in a unique location for volunteering abroad – right next to the ocean! It offers you the chance to work alongside local experts on a variety of conservation and environmental projects. You can get involved in protecting turtles, crocodiles and birds.
The camp 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 would be 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 university research, or as part of a summer holiday.
Here you will find answers to the following questions:
What is my role on this Conservation & Environment project?
Volunteers on this project can take part in a wide variety of activities, such as:
- Working with trained staff to conserve endangered turtles, including:
- Taking part in night time beach patrols on foot and by quad-bike to collect turtle eggs.
- Re-burying the eggs at a safe area near our camp, called a 'corral'.
- Working at the corral to collect the baby turtles as they emerge from the nests that were buried about six weeks earlier, then releasing them into the sea.
- Spending one day each week at the crocodile park, 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 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 building work, including:
- Community beach clean-ups.
- Building construction or upgrading work at the camp and La Colorada Crocodile Centre.
- Collecting palm tree leaves for replacing and maintaining the thatched palapa roofs.
Some of this work takes place at night, so volunteers work on a rota. This normally involves you 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 (the protected area in which collected eggs are reburied), and other general site maintenance.
What are the aims of this Conservation & Environment project?
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 recognise 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.
Volunteers taking part in our Conservation programme in Mexico will also be contributing to our exciting new Global Shark Campaign, which is taking place in 18 countries in 4 continents. Our volunteers work with our local staff to restore mangrove forests. Mangroves are incredibly important for sustaining shark populations because they act as a nursery for many pelagic fish species, including shark pups.
Where will I live on this project?
The accommodation on this project involves a basic dormitory-style bunk house on the edge of the beach. You will stay here with other volunteers; the local staff stay in the building next to it. The camp has a central concrete building with a kitchen and there is a shower and toilet block close by. There is also a work area, and an area for eating and relaxing. It will soon feel like 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 supper. There is a weekly work roster and this includes taking your turn at doing the washing up - there are all sorts of aspects to overseas voluntary work! You'll also have time to relax or read, and many volunteers invest in one of Mexico's best inventions - the hammock!
You can join the Conservation & Environment project in Mexico for two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work intensely on a variety of conservation activities please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period. The amount of turtles that you see may also be limited, especially during the low season between December and April.
This placement is fully researched, safety audited and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.
All volunteers taking part on any project in Mexico now have the opportunity to add a 1 Week Conservation Add-On to the end of their main placement.
Volunteers on the Conservation project may also like to combine this with some time on the Animal Care in Mexico Project. Here you will work in an animal rescue centre in Guadalajara.