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About Us • Volunteering

In the spring of 1992, the founding members of the Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. (the Group) organized and built the first marine nursery in San Francisco, Nayarit. By June of that year, protection of Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtle eggs had begun.

Millions of years before humans arrived in North America, the marine turtle had well established its nesting habitat along the coastal waters of Mexico. The oldest inhabitants of San Francisco, Nayarit, or "San Pancho" as it is commonly called today, can still recall the nights when hundreds of nesting turtles climbed the moonlit beaches to renew the custom of perpetuating their species.

The palm-laden playas were free of development and offered an idyllic location for nesting. Occasionally, the coastal Indians would gather food from the generous supply of eggs and turtles.

The growing human population, coupled with the changing demographics of the coastal region in the past one hundred years, has dramatically altered the habitat, and thus, the reproductive cycle of the turtles.

By 1988, pressures from coastal development, poaching, shrimp fishing, and tourism reduced a population of tens of thousands to less than 200 nesting turtles per year.

The first conservation effort to protect the marine turtle began in the late eighties. It was then that members of the community became concerned that the local marine turtle population may soon face extinction.

In the spring of 1992, the founding members of the Group built the first marine nursery. By June, a large scale protection of Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtle eggs had begun. In 20 years, the population has increased from 200 to 1,170 nests.

Volunteering at Ecological Group of Costa Verde

No special skills or education is necessary, only the willingness to work in adverse weather conditions during the night. Click here to apply online.


Volunteers receive no salary and will be responsible for their entire expenses including food for about $120 to $170, and lodging at $250 a month per person. The Group will find volunteers housing for families that fits their needs well before they arrive. In most cases volunteers will share a house. Volunteers with young children can hire house keepers, cooks, and baby sitters for $10 to $15 a day.


If selected, volunteers should obtain a tourist permit for up to 180 days. Although the Group will help volunteers extend their tourist permits if necessary.
Marine turtle program

Our marine nursery is one of the few in Mexico that remains open the year round to protect the Olive Redley, the Eastern Pacific Green, and the Leatherback.

Our Work:

  • Collect nests from six different beaches and relocate to the nursery between the hours of 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 am.  
  • Monitor and regulate nursery temperatures, the hatching and releasing of hatchlings, and the cleaning of nest boxes.  
  • Keep the greenhouse nursery good condition around the clock.  
  • Maintain computer records on nests collected, temperatures, and the cleaning of nests.  
  • Maintain and operate an all-terrain-vehicle, (sometimes during periods of heavy rain and very poor road conditions).  
  • Conduct slide shows, lectures and tours on our marine turtle program.
  • Conducting children environmental classes.

The remaining paragraphs outline the community of San Francisco and living conditions within:


San Francisco is a small country pueblo of 2,200 inhabitants, located 32 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. San Pancho, as its commonly referred to, is a community of small stores, shops, good restaurants, surfing and a regional hospital. The pueblo was rebuilt by President Echeverria in the early 70's . Its parks, market place and cobble stone roads reflect the charm of the Mexico.


The northwest edge of the pueblo is flanked by the Pacific Ocean and a one mile stretch of beach, and surrounded three sides by rolling green hills of heavy jungle. There are five other nesting beaches within walking distance of the pueblo.
Throughout the summer daytime temperatures are in the high 80's, nights 72° to 87°. The ocean temperature runs a warm 86°±. Humidity ranges from 65% to 100%. Heavy thunder storms and rain may occur at anytime between mid June and mid October. Yearly rainfall amounts can reach as high as 100 inches per year. Except for storms, winds are light, 3 to 9 mph.

Local Transportation:

A personal vehicle is not necessary, although it may be helpful. Bus and mini bus service runs daily every 20 minutes between 5 AM and 10 PM. Members of the Group will also assist volunteers with transportation to purchase food and supplies,.
Many necessities can be found in San Pancho while a greater variety, including auto parts, gasoline, and a larger selection of groceries and household supplies can be obtained in Puerto Vallarta.


Telephones, email and fax are available. English language newspapers and magazines are also available in Puerto Vallarta . Personal mail can be sent to the Group's post office box.

Partnered for Change with...

Travler - Mentoring Leadership and Technology

Travler is a modest US-based charity that aids volunteers, entrepreneurs and NGOs with local projects which contribute to sustainable communities in rural areas of Mexico.

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Grupo Ecológico Costa Verde

For $75.00 USD, you can symbolically adopt a San Pancho turtle nest, supporting 31 years of sea turtle conservation. This is a great gift opportunity for the turtle or nature lover in your life. Read more >>>

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