Live and work on the Pacific coastline and do volunteer conservation work with endangered sea turtles in Mexico. You’ll work closely with conservation experts at a local ecological centre. You’ll also work in a nearby lagoon and on a black sand beach. This is a great way for you to protect the environment and enjoy being outdoors at the same time!
In Mexico, turtles are under threat. They’re losing their nesting grounds because of coastal erosion, and poachers steal their eggs. We need your help to move nests to protected corrals, and then release hatchlings safely into the ocean. You’ll also help preserve the biodiversity of the surrounding area by doing scientific studies and working with crocodiles and iguanas. The data you collect is used by researchers across the Americas.
You’ll live and work with your group near a beautiful black sand beach in the town of Cuyutlan. You’ll stay in shared accommodation, close to both the town centre and the beach. There’s plenty to see and do in Mexico in your free time, and we encourage you to experience as much as possible.
Children aged 3-14 must be accompanied by at least one adult paying full price
We offer discounts for families and groups of friends travelling together. Call us on 021 234 8002 for more info.
When you apply you only pay €295, which comes off the total price.
Looking to do more than one project? Call us on 021 234 8002 to see if we can offer a discount.
Completely flexible dates
Anyone aged over 16 can join
What's included in the price?
Food (three meals a day)
Travel and medical insurance
Airport pick-up and drop-off
Full induction and orientation by an experienced staff member on arrival
Transport to and from your work placement
In-country support and 24-hour back-up from our team of full-time local staff
Emergency assistance from our international emergency response team
Project equipment and materials, including access to our database with thousands of resources
A supervisor/mentor at your work placement
Training and workshops from our experienced local staff
Regular social events and community activities with other volunteers and interns
Access to our local office with internet connection
Certification of project completion
Access to our alumni services and discounts
Visa support and advice
Fundraising support, including your own personalised fundraising website
Pre-departure preparation by your own specialist Volunteer Advisor
Personalised MyProjectsAbroad website, with all the information you need about your project, accommodation and destination
A free cultural awareness course
Membership to our volunteer social media groups, to share information and to get in touch
Support to help you complete registration or internship documents, if applicable
What's not included?
Visa costs (where applicable)
Is volunteering with sea turtles in Mexico right for me?
If you have a strong interest in working with marine life on land, and you want a more adventurous experience outdoors, this is the project for you. You’ll spend your days patrolling black sand beaches, searching for turtle nests, and carefully transporting eggs to a more protected areas. You’ll release hatchlings, and watch them crawl over the sand to the ocean. You’ll sail slowly around a lagoon, taking notes about the different animals and birds you see for scientists.
The work we do here is important, and you’ll become part of ongoing efforts to protect marine and coastal life. You’ll do plenty of hands-on work outdoors, and learn a lot from our conservation experts. This is really useful if you’re planning on pursuing a career in conservation someday. It’s also a good fit if you’re passionate about the environment and actively want to help.
You’ll also have the chance to hone personal skills, like communication and adapting to a different environment. You can apply these skills to any career you pursue.
You don’t need previous experience to join. You’ll be supervised by experts, and Projects Abroad staff are always available to provide guidance and advice.
Our Conservation Project in Mexico runs year-round, so you can join whenever it suits your schedule. The minimum duration is one week, but we recommend staying longer to experience as much as possible.
What will I do on this project?
There’s always a lot to be done at Cuyutlan! Here are some of the activities you can get involved in:
- Search for and move turtle nests to a protected area
- Clean and maintain turtle tanks and care for sea turtles
- Study the area’s biodiversity as part of important ongoing research initiatives
- Do environmental and educational outreaches within the local community
- Participate in beach clean-ups during the afternoons
- Support local staff at a crocodile park
Your project will be divided into the following ways:
Search for and move turtle nests to a protected area
Coastal erosion is a big, long-term problem affecting turtles in Mexico. However, poachers have proven to be an even bigger problem at the moment. Once a turtle has laid eggs, poachers dig up the eggs to sell at local markets. To protect the nests, we do beach patrols every night.
When we find a nest, we move it to a safe location at the ecological centre we work with. This is a protected area, and the eggs incubate in peace here. Once the eggs hatch, we release hatchlings into the ocean. Your help is very much needed.
Ensure turtles tanks are clean and maintained
At the ecological centre, the government has given them permission to keep turtles, especially those who have been injured and cannot be released back into the wild. They need your help to look after all the turtles living here. You will help clean the tanks, and make sure adult turtles are fed and cared for. Each turtle is also weighed and measured once a month.
Every week, you’ll spend time in the Palo Verde estuary and El Chupadero lagoon. Here, you’ll monitor the presence and condition of the local wildlife. We do this in various ways, and we:
- Maintain a register through direct observation and trap cameras for night surveillance
- Monitor and collect data on the state of nearby mangrove forests
- Grow mangrove seedlings in a greenhouse
- Reforest areas where the mangrove forest has been damaged or removed
Working with mangroves is especially important. Mangroves provide a habitat for marine life, they protect coastlines from soil erosion, and they help in the fight against climate change. We need your help to plant as many as possible!
Educational and environmental outreaches
Education is a big part of the conservation work we do in Mexico. We work directly with the ecological centre to raise awareness in local communities. We emphasise the importance of looking after the environment and animals, and preserving them for future generations. You’ll help us with this work by visiting schools and running awareness campaigns in nearby communities.
Community beach clean-ups
Reducing litter in our oceans is vital for keeping marine life safe. Rubbish, particularly non-biodegradable plastic, is hazardous. The sea turtles that nest here can get caught in the discarded plastic. Or, they may mistake it for food, which can hurt and even kill them. You’ll participate in regular beach clean-ups to remove as much rubbish as possible.
Work with crocodiles
You’ll visit La Colorada Crocodile Centre, in Cofradia de Morelos, once a week. Here, you’ll help to clean and maintain the pens and the centre’s facilities. You will also be involved in taking biometric data and marking the crocodiles in nearby lagoons.
Who are our project partners?
All conservation sites in Mexico are protected by SEMARNAT (The Department of Environmental Affairs and Natural Resources). In recognition of Projects Abroad’s commitment to conservation, they have entrusted us to manage a section of the coastline. One of the conditions of our agreement with SEMARNAT is that we undertake significant scientific research on the coastline.
We also work closely with El Tortugario Centro Ecológico de Cuyutlan, an ecological centre in Cuyutlan. The centre focuses on raising awareness in local communities about the importance of biodiversity and conservation.
Where will I work?
During your time in Mexico, you’ll be based in Cuyutlan. With its black sand beaches, gentle waves, and laid-back attitude, Cuyutlan feels a world away from everywhere.
You’ll spend most of your time working at El Tortugario Centro Ecológico de Cuyutlan, and working directly on the beach or in a nearby lagoon. You’ll also work at La Colorada Crocodile Centre once a week.
You'll stay in shared accommodation close to the beach. It’s a short distance from El Tortugario Centro Ecológico de Cuyutlan, so you have an easy commute to and from work everyday! The house is also only a few kilometres away from the centre of the town.
Your accommodation has several single and shared bedrooms, as well as a communal kitchen and a swimming pool. Only volunteers of the same sex are permitted to share a room. You’ll all pitch in to help with some basic maintenance and cleaning at the house.
In your time off, you’ll have a chance to experience all that Mexico has to offer and socialise with the other volunteers.
What is a typical day on this project like?
You will work Monday through Friday, for about five hours a day.
Time on this project is split between work at the ecological centre, on the beach, and a nearby lagoon. At the ecological centre, you’ll focus on working with turtles. You’ll monitor nests in a protected corral. You’ll also clean adult turtles and ensure they are well fed, and measured and weighed regularly. We also do patrols at night to search for new turtle nests. You can expect to work on rotation for night patrols.
You’ll work at the crocodile centre once a week, on a Thursday. Here, you’ll collect biometric data and mark the crocodiles in nearby lagoons to track local populations.
There is plenty of time to relax. This is especially true during the hottest part of the day, when we stop working because of the heat from the midday sun.
During the hours you aren’t working, and over the weekends, you can explore and socialise with other volunteers. Be sure to enjoy the famous open-air palapa covered seafood restaurants around town!
What are the aims for this project?
The aim of this project is to ensure the survival of endangered sea turtle species, and preserve the ecological well-being of the area.
The endangered turtles we work with can only lay their eggs on the beach. Unfortunately, these nesting areas are disappearing rapidly. This is because of climate change and increased human development. Poachers also take the eggs to sell at local markets. This is why we are working to protect as many of these nests as possible. We need the help of volunteers like you to do it.
We’re working with specific endangered turtle breeds in Mexico. These include green sea turtles, Olive Ridley sea turtles, and the critically endangered leatherback sea turtles. Statistics about the leatherback turtle are especially frightening. There are only 2,300 female adult Pacific Leatherback turtles left in the wild.
In addition to protecting turtles, we’re helping preserve the area’s ecological well-being. We monitor the wildlife population, and collect scientific data for scientists and the local government. We’re also working to address coastal erosion by growing and planting mangroves. Not only do mangroves protect coastlines from soil erosion, they also provide a habitat for marine life, and help in the fight against climate change.
Join our Sea Turtle and Coastal Conservation Project and become part of our long-term efforts to protect and preserve Mexico’s ecology.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring Our Impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
From waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach every morning; to seeing the sun set over the ocean every evening, every second spent there was incredible.
Conservation Volunteering in Mexico
Meet the team in Mexico
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