The Sea Turtles of Nuevo Vallarta
The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
The sea turtle most commonly found in Nuevo Vallarta is the endangered Olive Ridley.
The heart-shaped Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) adult can weigh as much as 100 pounds, and its hard green shell usually measures about 30 inches in length. Olive Ridley females are unique among other marine turtles in that they nest two to three times every year, sometimes arriving in great numbers known as “arribadas.” Adult male Olive Ridleys never return to land as mating occurs in the sea just off shore.
Another unique characteristic of female sea turtles is their ability to remember where they were born. It is believed that by using their sense of smell and feel they imprint the place of their birth and return there to lay their eggs year after year. The eggs incubate for 45 to 65 days, and then 85 to 125 hatchlings emerge from the nest. The nests that have been relocated to the Hatchery for protection are carefully monitored. After hatching, the baby turtles are returned safely to the sea, usually within 24 hours of their birth.