Guests Help Baby Sea Turtles at Puerto Vallarta Resort

Mary Forgione - Los Angeles Times
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July 27, 2012

Guests release baby sea turtles every evening at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort. (Marriott)

Please do touch the sea turtles.

That's the word at one beach-front hotel in Puerto Vallarta where 30% of sea turtles in the Mexican resort town come to lay their eggs in the sand.

Because a beach full of tourists isn't a safe place for turtle eggs, the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort collects the nests, incubates them in an on-site nursery and counts on guests and their children to release hatchlings into Banderas Bay.

"Tradition holds that each child names their baby sea turtle, wishes them luck and sets them free to find their way to the water," the hotel said in a statement.

Turtles are freed each evening at 7:30, now through December. (They are released at night to help them avoid hungry predators.)

The conservation efforts have paid off. In the past decade, the hotel has shepherded and released about 293,000 turtles into the wild, according to the hotel. Last year alone 47,000 turtles were born and set free in the hotel's Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Guests also can help a staff biologist collect eggs and learn more about the endangered species program.

Potential visitors to Mexico should note that, because of drug cartel-related violence in parts of the country, the U.S. Department of State has a travel warning for many Mexican states, including Jalisco, which borders the problematic states of Zacatecas and Michoacan. Puerto Vallarta, however, is far from those borders. The State Department does tell travelers to "exercise caution" at night in Puerto Vallarta and other areas of Jalisco.

Nightly room prices start at $89 (a last-minute weekend rate) and $189 for an Escape! Family package good through December 8 that includes daily breakfast for two adults and two children younger than 12, pizza and a movie, and other extras.

For more information, visit the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta site or telephone (800) 228-9290.

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