Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.

Unfortunately for the marine turtles, pressures from coastal development, poaching, shrimp fishing, and tourism reduced a population of tens of thousands to less than 200 nesting turtles per year on the

San Pancho beaches.

Lucky for the turtles, Frank Smith (group director) was retiring from the U.S. Forestry Service and found out about the problem. The year after he retired he gave himself a new job...

During the spring of 1992 Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. was organized and the first marine turtle nursery in San Francisco (a.k.a. San Pancho), Nayarit was built. By June of that year protection of Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtle eggs had begun.

In April of 1993, Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. received authority from the Mexican Government, SEMARNAT (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources), to begin the first environmental group in the State of Nayarit. The group's purpose follows according to the group's website:

"Protection of the environment with special interest in the preservation of the marine turtles as well as all other endangered species of flora and fauna along the Pacific Coast of Mexico.


  • The preservation and improvement of wildlife habitats with special interest in coastal forest, wetlands, beaches, and rivers.

  • Provide environmental education programs emphasizing environmental accountability and preservation.

  • Protection of visual and natural resources of the coastal region by introducing alternative lifestyles, including but not limited to acceptable methods of fishing, farming, building, and landscaping, that will in the long term minimize negative impact on the environment.

  • Assisting government agencies and other environmental groups by developing plans and programs designed to protect in perpetuity the terrestrial and marine environment for wildlife, ecological and aesthetic purposes beneficial to the public interest.

  • Improving the development of communities by providing as necessary trash containers, community clean up campaign, care and maintenance of parks, and other programs and plans as required to insure public health and welfare.


Financial support comes from the sale of the San Francisco Home Directory, T-shirts, public donations, and from Frank's retirement. All donations and sales go directly toward the Group's environmental objectives.
The large scale protection of Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtle eggs has caused, within a 24 year period, the turtle population to increase from 200 to an average of about 1,400 nests per year.


Volunteer Requirements

Time frame

Our marine turtle program begins at the onset of the Olive Ridley nesting season, generally around June 1st, and ends around November 15th.

To be accepted volunteers must stay with the program for at least two months and pay their entire expense.



No special skills or education is necessary, only the willingness to work in adverse weather conditions during the night.



Volunteers receive no salary and will be responsible for their entire expenses including food for about $120 to $170, and lodging at $300 dollars per month per person. The Group will find volunteers housing for families that fits their needs well before they arrive. In most cases volunteers will share a house. Volunteers with young children are asked to rent a house near our nursery and can hire house keepers, cooks, and baby sitters for $10 to $15 a day.


Our work

  • Collect nests from local beaches and relocate to the nursery between the hours of 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 am, depending on time of nesting season. 

  • Monitor and regulate nursery temperatures, the hatching and releasing of hatchlings, and the cleaning of nest boxes. 

  • Keep the greenhouse nursery in good condition around the clock. 

  • Maintain computer records on nests collected, temperatures, and the cleaning of nests. 

  • Maintain and operate an all-terrain-vehicle, (sometimes during periods of heavy rain and very poor road conditions). 



(Much of this page has been directly copied and pasted from the website of

 Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. with permission of director Frank Smith)  


the following link goes directly to the group's website





© 2014 Joy