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Loggerhead Turtle Conservation Team Adventure

This 12 day intensive voluntourism adventure puts travelers on the ProCaguama conservation team, in the vanguard of recovering endangered loggerhead sea turtle populations. Participants will join the team in strategy meetings, head offshore to capture loggerhead turtles, collect data and might even help place satellite transmitters. Participants will also take part in organizing community events, with the experience culminating in the annual Lopez Mateos "Sea Turtle Festival" celebration.

Day 1 - Arrival to Baja California Sur, Mexico
Fly into the scenic Bay of La Paz, the scenic capital of Baja California Sur, Mexico, situated on the Gulf of California, described by Jacques Cousteau as the world's aquarium. The ProCaguama team liaison will meet you at the airport or your hotel, and together you will travel overland to Puerto López Mateos (4 hours), on the Pacific Coast, at the North end of majestic Magdalena Bay. Here you will be warmly received by your host family, followed by a welcome dinner at the ProCaguama team house and a presentation on the loggerhead conservation project.

Day 2 - ProCaguama Team Orientation
After breakfast, head over to the ProCaguama team house for an intensive orientation on the various aspects of the project, including the dates, times and logistical details, as well as a seminar by ProCaguama Director, Dr. Hoyt Peckham on the science and conservation strategies behind your voluntourism work. Ask all the questions you want, this is your orientation, and don't worry, your curiosity and interest will be expected and welcomed throughout your stay. Today you will also learn about your role, how you are expected to participate, as well as sign up for activities on the team calendar.

Day 3 - 11 Project Immersion
Just as you read in the brochure, you will get your feet wet and return home with sand in your shorts as part of the ProCaguama Conservation Team. Your days will be divided between the various projects:

Off-shore loggerhead monitoring: Head offshore in ProCaguama's research vessels to help spot and capture endangered loggerhead turtles for ecological research. Once onboard, turtles will be measured, weighed, tagged and given a name. Researchers will collect skin and carapace samples for study in the laboratory. Some turtles will be outfitted with cameras and/or satellite transmitters to elucidate their diet, movement and dive habits.

Beach surveys: Cross the estuary to Magdalena Island and join Don Victor de la Toba on the 45km Beach Safari. Racing the tide, you’ll systematically survey the entire shoreline for stranded animals such as turtles, dolphins and whales. Aside from the pristine beach you will be amazed to see coyotes and ospreys up close. Where the beach ends you’ll ride the 4x4 up breathtaking terrain of an island mountain to arrive at one of the most visually stunning spots on the planet, the Cabo San Lazaro, lighthouse, manned by Victor and his family for generations. You'll spend the night out at the lighthouse, and in your down time, you can hike down to secluded coves, or spy on the sea lion rookery. Or just kick back on the roof and watch the passing whales and seabirds.

Community outreach and 10th Annual Sea Turtle Festival: Support the outreach team in taking the conservation message home, working with local youth and women on educational projects. Your work will culminate in the Sea Turtle Festival, an event filled with music, food, local culture and a celebration of the species that has become a banner for transformational change in communities along this coast. For July dates, you will travel to Puerto San Carlos to represent the ProCaguama team in the Sea Turtle Festival. For August dates, you will travel up the coast with the team for the festival in San Juanico, where you just may have the chance to try out your surfing skills (San Juanico, also called Scorpion Bay, is world-renowned for its long, easy-to-ride waves).

Team strategy meetings: Strategy meetings make up a dynamic part of the project, where advances and challenges are discussed, and field researchers and community outreach specialists put their heads together to solve complex problems in a constantly changing environment. Sit in and see how the various elements woven together to form ProCaguama, the multi-disciplinary initiative that is addressing the key social and scientific issues vital to saving endangered loggerhead turtles.

In your down time, take a swim in the estuary, or paddle through the mangrove to view spectacular bird life, or, sit back and relax and enjoy your book. As for meals, Magdalena Bay is renowned for its abundant sea food and delectable dishes. Vegetarian and special needs diets can be provided upon request.

Day 12 - Farewell to host family and friends
After breakfast, say goodbye to your host family and your new friends on the ProCaguama team, who will accompany you back to La Paz. Your trip has ended, but the memories, experiences and contacts will live on. You are now part of the team!

Trip length: 12 days Departs from: La Paz
Activities: Participation in Procaguama loggerhead sea turtle conservation team. Homestay with local fisher family. Cultural interaction. Star gazing. Bird watching.
Price: $1500 US per person
Space is limited to 4 volunteers

More details below the departure dates

Departure dates Availability Comments
Jul 25 - Aug 5 2012
Limited to 4 volunteers
Trip departs from Loreto*. Volunteers will join the San Carlos Sea Turtle Festival
Aug 8 - 19 2012
Limited to 4 volunteers
Trip departs from La Paz. Volunteers will join the San Juanico Sea Turtle Festival
* Departures from La Paz or Los Cabos also available upon request.

Accommodations: Travelers will stay with a host family from the local fisher community in rustic accomodations.

Includes: Ground transportation from La Paz to López Mateos and back (about 3.5 hours each way), all meals starting on lunch of day one and ending on lunch of day 12, taxes, a 3% donation to RED´s community conservation fund, local family host accommodations. All meals will be provided by host family or by Procaguama team. Trip fee also includes all activities related to loggerhead conservation work in the community of López Mateos.

Excludes: Breakfast on day 1 and dinner on day 12, hotels or transportation prior or after the trip

This trip is ideal for: Voluntourists with an interest in nature, conservation and cultural interaction, and a deep desire to spend their time actively contributing to community conservation efforts in a rural fishing town. Selection of team members will be based on a pre-trip application and telephone interview. Spaces are extremely limited.

The loggerhead turtle

Nesting exclusively in Japan, the North Pacific loggerhead has declined dramatically over the past few generations to no more than a couple of thousand turtles nesting per year, qualifying it as endangered under the US ESA. The thirty to forty years loggerheads need to reach maturity predisposes them to endangerment. The fact that they spend those three to four decades traversing the North Pacific doesn’t help; in addition to the natural gauntlet of predators and disease, juvenile loggerheads are exposed to lethal fishing gear throughout their trans-Pacific range. Fish weirs and pound nets around the coast of Japan, pelagic longlines and pirate driftnets throughout the open Pacific, and nets and longlines fished from small-scale vessels off the coast of Mexico combined to kill thousands of loggerheads each year.

The wealth of Baja California Sur
The highly productive waters of Baja California Sur, Mexico, have been revered for centuries for the abundance and diversity of large creatures they attract (See Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez). Persistent upwelling, fronts, and eddies result in unusually high production of phytoplankton and zooplankton. This richness fuels a perennial abundance of prey, including pelagic red crabs, sardines, and squid, which in turn consistently draw such predators as sea birds, sharks, billfish, tuna, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and, of course, fishermen. Juvenile loggerheads gather for decades off the peninsula to forage their way to maturity on the region’s abundant pelagic red crabs. But the unfortunate overlap between fishermen and foraging loggerheads results in among the highest known rates of turtle bycatch and strandings in the world. This hotspot represents extremely high risk for young loggerheads but also extraordianry conservation opportunity. By partnering with local fishermen to reduce their bycatch thousands of endangered loggerheads can be spared each year

Proyecto Caguama (Operation Loggerhead) partners directly with fishermen to ensure the wellbeing of fishing communities and sea turtles alike. Fisheries bycatch can jeopardize both fishermen’s livelihoods and endangered species such as the loggerhead turtle. Since 2003 we have identify regionally important bycatch hotspots and developed bycatch solutions with fishermen from Mexico, Japan, and Hawaii. We engage key fisher leaders through participatory research, locally resonant media including comics, murals and festivals, and trinational exchanges that offer fishermen personal experience of the Pacific-wide impacts of their local bycatch. Strategies range from market-based solutions to gear technology, and all are built upon capacity-building for fishing organizations and government agencies. ProCaguama achieves exemplary conservation success building on the fisher networks of the Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias and the Sea Turtle Association of Japan. These successes include many loggerhead turtles spared by fishermen at Baja California Sur and development of bycatch reduction technology for Japanese fisheries among other breakthroughs, and ProCaguama’s partnerships with fishermen to solve conservation problems serve as a pioneering example for these efforts on a global level

All this success is amazing, but ProCaguama’s job is not done, and this is where you can help. Local fishermen have changed their fishing practices to protect loggerheads on a voluntary basis, so it is essential for ProCaguama to maintain the awareness and enthusiasm for this important effort by fishermen and their families.

Your participation provides vital support, both through your involvement as part of the conservation team, and your trip fee, which helps fund the conservation activities including:
• Important data on loggerhead Turtle populations, and analyses on survival rates and its abundance in Mexico, as well as in Japan, the birthplace of the endangered loggerheads.
• Knowledge, data and analyses about loggerhead turtles, and their home range in the region. Involvement of local fishermen in loggerhead turtle monitoring activities.

In Magdalena Bay, RED tours provide a sustainable economic alternative that helps relieve pressure on fishing resources and cultivates stewardship in the community. RED’s work runs deep, ranging from small business incubation and guide training for local operators, to marketing and sales of community products. RED places conservation in the hands of community members by linking natural resource preservation to economic opportunity.

Procaguama Conservation Team Leader - Dr. Hoyt Peckham
Dr. Hoyt Peckham is the Director of Fisheries and Science at Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias where he partners with fishers, managers and scientists from Mexico, Japan, and Cuba among other sites to augment fisheries sustainability and reduce bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles. Hoyt is a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions, a Member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group, and serves as a Technical Expert for the United Nations Environmental Program.

Hoyt's work with loggerhead sea turtles includes habitat use, foraging ecology, bycatch assessment and reduction, animal-borne imaging, telemetry, participatory learning, fisher exchanges, and market-based conservation solutions. Come to Magdalena Bay this summer and work with Hoyt and his conservation team.

Procaguama Conservation Team Liaison – Vladimir de la Toba
Vladimir is a professional guide with almost ten years of experience leading and organizing extended sea kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez and out of Mag Bay. Vladimir is also a sea turtle expert, having worked with Dr. Hoyt Peckham on ProCaguama since it’s founding in 2003. Vladi is equally adept at rodeoing sea turtles (hand capture at sea – see videos and photos), organizing the Playa San Lazaro Beach Survey and Safari (with ten years running it alogn with his father, lighthousekeeper Don Victor de la Toba), and making sure your Voluntourism experience is safe, fun, and productive. Vladi will coordinate your homestay, activities, meals and make sure you are happy throughout your stay.

Be the first one to review this trip
The first Loggerhead Turtle Conservation Team Adventure will take place in 2012. Join the Procaguama Team on this expedition and be the first one to submit a review.