Run by the San Carlos University Center for Conservation Studies (CECON), the Tortugario Monterrico provides a much-needed service along this slice of Guatemala’s Pacific coast. This area is an important nesting site for olive ridley, leatherback, and green sea turtles. Some of this land – including beaches and mangrove swamps – fall under the protection of the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii, which works to preserve the area’s natural habitat and the creatures that depend upon it. Even so, that doesn’t always stop locals from poaching and selling turtle eggs.
The Tortugario Monterrico runs a turtle hatchery along the beach where collected eggs are reburied and allowed to hatch in protection. The nesting season runs from June through January, but peaks in August and September. Olive ridley turtles typically have a 50-day incubation period, while leatherbacks tends to incubate for around 70 days. Once the turtles have hatched they are held for a few days before being released. The sea turtles are typically released at sunrise or sunset from September to January. The Tortugario Monterrico releases around 50,000 baby sea turtles each year.