The work to ensure the long term survival of sea turtles may focus on several approaches. One that PRETOMA considers very efficient and gratifying is the protection of nesting beaches. In many cases, the most effective way of doing so is to work directly with the members of coastal communities who have exploited the sea turtle resource for generations.
Poaching of sea turtle nests and the consumption of their eggs is a deeply rooted practice among people who live along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and it will not end from one day to the next. An important investment in time and education is necessary to change the perception of coastal communities regarding sea turtles, as well as the creation of clever alternatives designed to encourage the population to abandon this practice.
A modern threat occurring on nesting beaches is the alteration and destruction of habitat, to satisfy the demands of the tourist industry. In many ocassions these developments are carried out in open violation of Costa Rican laws that protect the beach, or Public Zone.
PRETOMA’s nesting beach projects cover the following aspects:
Reduction of nest poaching
The beach is patrolled nightly by project personnel, in search of nesting turtles, with the objective of protecting the nests from the “hueveros” or poachers. All sea turtles are identified by species, measured, and tagged with inconel tags on the front flippers, to study nesting and migration patters.
Increase of hatchling production
Nests are relocated into one or more hatcheries for their incubation. As the ratio of male to female hatchlings is dependent on temperature and in an effort to improve hatchery management, the temperature of nests are monitored throughout the season. Hatchlings are released upon hatching, in sectors of the beach where the nest was originally laid.
Participation of community members
PRETOMA hires a couple of local community members each season to help with nightly monitoring of the sea turtle nesting activity. PRETOMA also generates money for the local community by renting the station house and overflow cabins, providing homestays, feeding project members at one of the local restaurants, direct donations, and by simply bringing in people who then take advantage of local goods and services.
Project volunteers are encouraged to make a strong effort to integrate into the community and get to know the locals on a personal level. However, locals are fairly timid and whether or not this happens will depend greatly on each individual participants!
The presence of PRETOMA in these coastal communities helps educate locals on the plight of sea turtles. Many of the volunteers who work in the project are biologists or conservationists, and they help out with the dissemination of their specific knowledge. Frequently, the flow of information is inverse, and the locals end up teaching volunteers. After all, they are whom have interacted with the turtles their whole lives.
Litigation and Legal Cases
Sometimes, in order to maintain the ecological integrity of these fragile beaches, it is necessary to file Court Law suits because of the violation of Laws designed to protect Costa Rica’s public beaches, as well as violations against the Wildlife Conservation Law.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?
Turtle Trax S.A. is contracted by Pretoma to manage all international and National volunteers who wish to work alongside pretoma on one of their four nesting beaches protecting marine turtles of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. We will provide information and support before and during their trip to ensure that they receive an experience of a lifetime.
To provide a unique community based volunteer experience immersing volunteers within local traditions and cultures, providing important economic benefit to coastal communities whist aiding in the direct conservation of endangered marine turtles.