Ixtapa Zihuatanejo - Ecology, Turtles preservation program, Catch and Release

Extinction is forever... don't let it happen


Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is very fortunate to have one of the preferred lands on the Pacific Ocean for the sea turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs, mostly of the Olive Ridley type but also some Leatherback and Hawksbill. This takes place during the rainy season and goes as far as December or middle of January. The biggest number of arrivals are during the nights in the rainy season between 1:00a.m. and 4:00a.m. and continues until the end of the cycle with a slight decrease of arrivals. 

Governments (Federal, State and Municipality), private individuals, companies, restaurants and particularly many hotels help in this task by collecting the eggs and building temporary pens in the sand to protect and guard them until they hatch.

Sea turtle

Once they are born, most collectors release them right away but a few hold and feed them in sea water tanks for about 7 to 14 days before they do so. With this action they let them grow up a little bit to try to prevent its natural predators from killing them after the release. They said that doing it this way they will have a bigger chance of survival than those released right away and because they are hold a very short time, they won't create a dependency from humans.

Protective pens Protective pens

Sea turtle protective pens
Sticks show date eggs where buried and estimated hatch date

For example, in 1997 during our first year of combined efforts between authorities and private sector of our destination more than 5000 young and healthy turtles were safely released thanks to this program. In 1998 more than 7000, in 1999 more than 25000 and in the year 2000 a big record for our program when we were able to release more than 97000. Since then, year after year we continue with our conservation effort with an average of 65000 to 75000 annual releases in this area and...

We feel very proud of it !!!

We do weekly releases and at the end of the year with the help of the local Hotel Associations we do a massive release as a symbolic end of our annual preservation program and as a tourist attraction for ecology consciousness, specially aimed for children awareness. Make plans to joins us next December 31st. and help us release the little turtles in our beaches.

Since December 2014 this end of the year event has been cancelled.

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Thanks to this praiseworthy program, maybe the next sea turtle you'll see was born in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo thanks to the help, effort and dedication of many people that care and want to conserve our ecology for future generations.

It is known that the "Olive Ridley" type turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) reaches adulthood between the ages of 8 and 10 years old. At that time, the females will return to the beaches where they were born to lays the eggs and they will keep doing so every year until death. Because of the tremendous success of our program and to prevent future overcrowding of nest areas in our beaches, about 50% of all born little turtles are released in nearby points to the north and south of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. This action will help our ecology even more.

Curious fact: Only the females will come to dry ground once a year to lay their eggs, the males will never do it for the rest of their lives.

Another curious fact: If you attend one of our releases, watch carefully after the little turtles go to sea. After a minute of so, they will get their heads out of the water for 30 to 60 seconds. According to experts, this is when they get the bearing of the place they were born and the females will return to lay their eggs. Little turtle

Unfortunately, according to investigations and researches by international ecology organizations, only 4% to 6% of the born sea turtles are capable of reaching adulthood due to their natural predators and furtive hunters. Because of this, all of us must put our best efforts to assure their survival in our world by NOT BUYING products or by-products made from them (oil, meat, eggs, articles made of turtle shell, etc.). Sea turtles are in the list of protected species in Mexico and heavy fines and/or imprisonment may be the result if you hunt, kill or commercialize it.


Sailfish is another of the sea life species that are very abundant in our waters. We'll like for you to have a great time catching one but if it's possible, please release him!!! he deserves another chance in life. The boat's captain will tell you of those than can be released with little harm done and that will survive to give another angler a great time.



If you go out on a fishing trip or a tour in a boat, while navigating look around and you will see many of the playful dolphins jumping around and if it is a lucky day, maybe a whale en route to the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, a family of orcas or an impressive school of yellow tail tuna.

You can see quite a few live crocodiles (cocodrylus acutus) by Playa Linda beach in Ixtapa, they are kept in a fenced pond that has lookout point, and also in the stream at the end of Playa La Ropa beach in Zihuatanejo. Please do not feed or throw objects to them. This specie of crocodiles has been around our place long before the first human set foot here.

Whale in our Bay
Whale inside Zihuatanejo's Bay

If you like bird watching, you will find a great diversity of them so bring your binoculars. A popular attraction is to watch the arrival of hundreds of birds every evening, just before sunset, at the entrance of Zihuatanejo on Highway MEX-200 between the Interstate Bus Terminal and Gas Station, where they use the electric wiring for night lodging or in "Plaza de la Libertad de Expresion" where hundreds of ravens arrive to spend the night in the trees... a noisy event.

Garrobo Bring your
camera or smart-phone
Garrobo (large iguana)   Wild deer at Ixtapa Island

Garrobos (large iguanas, dark in color), Iguanas, Raccoons and White Tail Deer can be seen in our countryside and with just a little observation you can see them very close at Ixtapa Island. Other typical animals of our region are Squirrel, Gray Fox, Porcupine, Armadillo, Wild Boar, Hare, Rabbit, Wildcat, Jaguar, Anteater, Badger, Kinkajou, Ocelot, Opossum, Skunk, Thrush, Gopher, Parrot, Parakeet and a great variety of sea birds. Because nature surrounds Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo... you will be able to enjoy a wide diversity of wild life and exotic animals.

Sea turtles release

Sea turtles release

Release of little sea turtles in our beaches

If you are ecology minded, take a tour to Park Bio La Escollera in Zihuatanejo, near La Ropa beach and/or to Refugio de Potosi at 25 km (15 miles) from our towns. (More information on "Activities & Relaxation" in menu)

Species in danger
In March 2012 in the City of Tepatitlan, State of Jalisco, the Federal Government inaugurated the National Center for Genetic Resources also known as "Noah's Ark Germplasm Seed Bank" whose role is the conservation of genes of animals, fishes, plants and microorganisms found in Mexico so in case of extinction they will have the necessary genetic materials for reproduction. In this first stage is was built to accommodate up to 3 million samples. Seed bank


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