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We are a marine turtle rescue and conservation center on the Pacific coast of Mexico just south of Zihuatanejo, Guerrero.
MISSION – Our mission is to protect and preserve the endangered native species of turtles and their habitats. We will work to educate the community and gain their support. We take a bold stand to protect all endangered species of turtles from extinction.
VISION – The local community, the state, and the world must be made aware of our vanishing endangered sea turtles. Education is the key to making the community aware of the importance of our marine turtles. This is a life-long commitment that must be embraced by all if we are to make a difference in the world’s marine turtle population. We envision a future where these amazing reptiles will nest safely on sandy areas.
Help with Eco project
Helping with Tourists
You will be working with Mexican and international volunteers and interacting with visitors young and old from around the world. Daily, you will be able to educate our visitors, share your story and how you came to volunteer at the camp. We are a short combi ride from the small Mexican village of Barra de Potosí, a traditional fishing town. In the summer, when the sea turtle activity is slow, we run a two week children's educational camp with kids from local communities.
Location - the camp is located is a mostly residential part of Playa Blanca, close to the Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa airport. Within walking distance there is one small store that sells some basics and one beach-side restaurant. A fruit/vegetable truck stops at the camp on a regular basis (I think at least twice a week) and a local tortillaria sells fresh and hot tortillas from motorcycles that pass by the camp regularly throughout the day. To access more stores or restaurants, you will need to take public transportation which is available at the road in front of the camp at a low cost.
Food - food is not provided as part of the volunteer position. Options for food include cooking in the cabin, ordering from one of many restaurants that deliver (pizza, chicken, etc.), or going to a nearby village such as Barra de Potosí (10km) where there are restaurants.
Food/Shopping - Zihuatanejo is about 30 minutes away from the camp by public transportation. There is a fantastic central market in Zihuatanejo that has almost anything you might need. There are also several large grocery stores (Soriana's, Bodega, Sam's Club, Merza, etc) in Zihuatanejo. There are a number of local volunteers that live on Playa Blanca/Barra de Potosí full-time and you can probably coordinate with one of them to go shopping when they go. For example, my wife Patty and I usually go about once a week and we hit the central market for most things we need and then maybe a grocery store and stop for lunch at a menú del día type restaurant (i.e. inexpensive). There are at least 3 other volunteer couples with cars that go to Zihuatanejo on a regular basis.
Seasons - our season for collecting sea turtle nests is approximately July to April. Our season for having hatching nests is approximately August to April. The months of May through July do not have a lot of sea turtle activity by we do have a children's summer camp for two weeks in July where volunteers are needed as camp counselors/helpers/teachers. We also have a lot of camp maintanance activities during this period - taking down and rebuilding the corral(s), painting, major cleaning, etc.
Responsibilities - depending on the season there are different needs. During the hatching season, one of the main responsibilities for volunteers is monitoring our corral where we have relocated sea turtle nests. Monitoring needs to be done primarily during the hours when our one full-time employee is not working. We also like having at least one person living in the cabin at all times to provide a presence in case any visitors show up unexpectedly.
Monitoring the corral involves checking for hatchlings every 30 to 60 minutes and collecting them (and possibly releasing them) when they are found. You will also check the corral for anything unusual or concerning such as ants around a nest(s). The hours when monitoring is most needed are Monday through Saturday: early mornings (between sunrise and about 8am/9am) and evenings between approximately 5 and 11pm. Sunday: early mornings through 11pm.
For monitoring the corral, you will need to have a smartphone that can run our app (GoCanvas, available on apple/google app store for free) and WhatsApp. You don't need an active cell service plan because both apps can run on the camp Wi-Fi. We record all our hatchling data in GoCanvas and use WhatsApp to communicate and share pictures between volunteers.
Depending on your language skills and interest in giving the education presentation to visitors at public releases, that is a possible work opportunity. We are particularly interested in bi-lingual speakers of Spanish and English to give the presentation which lasts about 30 minutes. Currently public releases are at 5pm but will get a little later as sunset gets later. If that is of interest to you, we can discuss it further.
Every Saturday from 9am - 1:30pm, we participate in "Eco Tianguis Sanka", a street market in Zihuatanejo where all vendors offer eco-friendly products and services. Our volunteers at the Eco Tianguis represent the camp by describing our activities, selling camp souvenirs (reusable water bottles, stainless steel straws, t-shirts, etc.), and soliciting adopt-a-nest donations. The Eco Tianguis is a great place for our friendly volunteers to spread the word about the work we do at the camp.
Night patrolling activity for our WorkAway volunteers. The night patrols involve looking for nests on our 15km beach between mid-night and dawn (depending on the season, the start time and length of the patrol varies). When a nest is found, the eggs are collected and returned to our corral where they are re-buried and monitored until the hatch.
Summer Camp - if you are interested in working with local children at our summer camp, July is a great time to volunteer. We're always looking for volunteers with artistic ability (for summer camp or anytime), experience working with children, organic/sustainable gardening, playing/teaching music, etc. If you think you have something special to offer at our camp, please let us know.
Dogs - we currently have three "camp dogs" - Blackie, Bella, and Fox. They are lovable and great companions to our volunteers and provide camp security by announcing any visitors and keeping away any stray dogs. They don't go in the cabin but you will be living in close proximity to them and should be comfortable being around dogs. WorkAway volunteers are not responsible for their care beyond the basics - we ask that you keep an eye on their water and clean/fill the bowl if it looks low or let someone know if one of them looks like he/she isn't feeling well or is injured. You may also be asked to give them kibble at feeding time.
I hope this helps you get a better idea of what you can expect and gives you the details you need to decide if it feels like a good fit for your interests and personality. Working with the sea turtles, hatchlings, and educating the public are all life affirming and inspiration endeavors that we are passionate about and we want volunteers who feel the same way.
If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We hope you will decide to join the Ayotlcalli volunteer team and spend some time with us on the beautiful Costa Grande doing this important work.
You would be living in a ocean-side wood cabin with several bedrooms with bunks, a small and basic kitchen, and eating area. The cabin is raised up off the sand and sits about 100 meters from the edge of the water. There is a small bathroom/shower in the cabin and additional one in an outbuilding behind the cabin.
It is likely that you would be sharing the cabin with at least one other volunteer and it is very important for you to be comfortable living with someone you don't know (yet), respecting their space and property, and taking responsibility for your own cleanliness and tidiness. Our beach is bordered by jungle and mountains so there are many insects and critters waiting for any food or trash to be left out for them to find. Keeping the cabin clean and tidy ensures that they don't move in with you.
The cabin is not air conditioned. There are fans. Depending on the climate you come from, it may feel hot, humid, and uncomfortable at first while you adapt. Being on the beach, there are mosquitoes and flies, mosquitoes especially and dawn and dusk. Most volunteers use some repellent as needed and are fine.
Outside the cabin is a palapa structure that is our education center. When it is not being used for evening releases or other events, it is available for your use. You can hang up a hammock to relax, sit and read on a bench or chair, or just generally treat it like your living room. We ask that you keep this area tidy also.
There is no laundry facility on site but there is a lavandaria close to the airport (just a few kilometers away).
The camp is located on a spectacular 15km long sandy beach. At the southern end is the village of Barra de Potosí with many beachfront and village restaurants. On the northern end of the beach, offshore and accessible by boat, is a small area of corral that is beautiful for snorkeling. The Costa Grande, including Zihuatanejo, Playa Blanca (where we are located), and many oceanside villages and towns north and south offers unlimited beach experiences. You can kayak in one of our local lagoons and experience world-class bird watching, hike in a public park in Zihautanejo, visit archaeological sites, taste delicious costeña cuisine, and more.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week