min read

Volunteer & Donate: Turtle Patrol

March through November is sea turtle season in Puerto Rico. There are great ways to volunteer to help these little creatures make it to the water safely.

March through November, three main species of sea turtles nest on the shores of Puerto Rico, the leatherback or tinglar, hawksbill or carey, and green sea turtle/peje blanco. 

A leatherback typically lays 110 eggs in a nest and may have 2 to 8 nests in a season. Out of 1000 hatchlings, usually, only one will survive to adulthood. Numerous obstacles prevent the survival of the hatchlings. Hatchlings can become disoriented by light; they instinctively follow the light of the moon to head to the sea once they’ve popped up out of the sand. Artificial light from buildings, headlights from cars, street lights, and even campfires can cause them to become disoriented, so they head away from water and perish. Coastal development impacts their nesting habitats. Destruction of vegetation, installation of barriers and structures, traffic from vehicles, horses, and ATVs on beaches, lighting, and predators affect their nesting sites and their ability to live in the wild.  

Turtle Patrol, starting in March and finishing at the end of September, aims to find nesting sites, mark them to keep them safe, and document the nests, sea turtles, locations, and health of the nest and turtles. Along the way, they remove barriers such as disruptions in the sand or debris that would prevent the babies from reaching the sea. They look for turtle tracks to indicate nesting sites and take measurements of tracks left from the momma’s breastplate, which shows her size. They also clean up debris and pick up trash and litter. 

There are 10 different corridors on the main island that are protected by volunteers, DNER rangers, and US Fish and Wildlife Services. There are also chapters in Vieques and Culebra. Refer to the list below to contact the department in your area and volunteer. Activities around sea turtles and nesting sites are only allowed by permit from PR DRNA as all leatherbacks and marine turtles are endangered species. As part of the volunteer crew, it is discouraged to share where nesting sites are located. Photos and videos must have the required disclaimer. 

When volunteering, you can expect to walk for long distances, 5 miles roundtrip on average. Walking is done slowly, so expect to take about 3 hours out of your morning on patrol. Depending on the day's needs, it can run shorter or longer, but the group is required to stay together as a unit. They start early, at 6 am, to beat the tropical sun and help the new hatchlings. They go out rain or shine, and you may be required to wade across rivers or water. 

They accept volunteers of all ages as long as you are fit enough to walk at least 5 miles in the sand and withstand the heat!

It is recommended to wear quick-drying clothes for when you get wet either from a downpour or the ocean. In the tropical heat, you’ll want to protect yourself from sunburn with long sleeves, a hat, and sunscreen. Wear a swimsuit and shoes that can get wet or go barefoot if you choose, but bring flip-flops in case of sharp objects. 

Bring lots of drinking water, at least a liter, and a snack to keep your energy up. Sunscreen to reapply during the day and bug spray are also good to have on hand. Trash bags are great for beach clean-up, and don’t forget a waterproof bag to protect stuff you don’t want to get wet. 

Volunteer Emilie Parylak says, “It’s a great way to start your day by doing something good for the world.” 

To volunteer, contact an organization near you from the list below.

● PRDNER (Sea turtle program coordinator) and Piñones: Carlos Diez 787-453-6484, cdiez@drna.gobierno.pr 

● Yo Amo el Tinglar (Hatillo/Arecibo/Barceloneta/Manati,Vega Baja): Myrna Concepción 939-276-9901, myrnaconcepciontorres@gmail.com

● Chelonia (Proyecto Tinglar-Dorado; playa El Unico, Rd. 165): Raymond Flores 787-306-0916, raymond@cheloniapr.org 

● TICATOVE (Vieques): Zuki Bermudez 787-438-4493, sukibermudez@yahoo.com, sukibermudez@gmail.com

● 7 Quillas Ocean Park (Condado and Ocean Park): Hilda Benitez 787-688-6763  7quillastecnico@gmail.com, hmbenitez88@gmail.com 

● Tortugueros del Sur (Ponce, Santa Isabel, Guayama, Guánica): Guillermo Plaza 787- 341-8888 guilloswift@gmail.com 

● Proyecto Tortugas Marinas de Culebra: Abbie White abbie143@hotmail.com, Adiereen Villanueva 787-685-7820 

● PRDRNA and Coalition for the Northeast Ecological Corridor Nature Reserve (Fajardo/Luquillo): Rosaly Ramos 787- 635-4493 rosalytinglar@hotmail.com

● Vida Marina (Cabo Rojo, Mayagüez, Rincón, Añasco, Aguada, Aguadilla, Isabela): Robert Mayer 787-414-0776 rjmayerar@gmail.com Sheila Bonet 939-358-5141 sheila.bonet@upr.edu 

● Arrecifes Pro-Ciudad (Isla Verde): Paco López 787-604-4959 pacolopez11a@gmail.com 

● ATMAR (Maunabo/Yabucoa/Patillas/Humacao & Palmas del Mar): Luis Crespo 787-448-8627 Carmen Arias (Yabucoa Cocal/Guano beach) 787-342- 9057 

● Humacao Nature Reserve: Samerith Sanchez 787-594-6568 samerithster@gmail.com 

● DNER Rangers (law enforcement, strandings, rescues): 787-724-5700 787-230-5550 787-771-1124 

● PR Stranding Network (strandings and rescues): Antonio Mignucci 787-399-1900 

In this series

Text Link
Article Image Link
5 min read

La Gran Noche del Cine Charity Gala

Caribbean Cinemas will be hosting La Gran Noche del Cine, a charity gala to benefit Hogar Cuna San Cristóbal, CODERI, YMCA and La Fondita de Jesús.
Text Link
Article Image Link
5 min read

Volunteer & Donate: Tech My School

Tech My School was founded not only to help provide technology to schools in Puerto Rico, but also to train the teachers on how to use tech ...
Article Image Link
5 min read

La Gran Noche del Cine Charity Gala

Caribbean Cinemas will be hosting La Gran Noche del Cine, a charity gala to benefit Hogar Cuna San Cristóbal, CODERI, YMCA and La Fondita de Jesús.
Slider Arrow Left
Slider Arrow Right