25 km of nesting beaches protected
The Costa Rican non-profit Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas PRETOMA recently launched a new sea turtle conservation and investigation network to protect more than 25 kilometers of nesting beach and provide benefits for coastal communities along the southern Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The network, known as PLANS (acronym in Spanish for Nesting Beaches of Southern Nicoya), includes PRETOMA’s already existing projects in San Miguel and Playa Caletas, as well as two new projects in Costa de Oro and Camaronal. In 2007 PRETOMA intends to expand the project to include the protection of two additional nesting sites in Corozalito and Bejuco, located between Camaronal to the north, and San Miguel to the south, thus completing the network of six nesting beaches, spanning more than 25 km.
The first new project incorporated into PLANS for the 2006 season began on July 7th at Camaronal, a site declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1994 due to the fact that thousands of sea turtles nest there each year. Even though the site has enjoyed official protection since 2004, until now the beach has never been the object of a formal investigation to determine which sea turtle species nest and in what quantity, as well as poaching levels, hatching success rates, etc. PRETOMA is currently conducting research at the site in collaboration with the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) of the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment (MINAE).
The second new project incorporated into PLANS for the 2006 season began on July 20th in the community of Costa de Oro, which has been soliciting the help of PRETOMA for several years due to the fact that poaching is practically 100%. The project in Costa de Oro opened with a workshop organized by PRETOMA staff, followed by the construction of a project hatchery by community members as well as project staff, where sea turtle nests will be protected throughout the nesting season.
In addition to conserving and investigating sea turtles, PLANS will provide benefits for surrounding communities in an effort to offer alternatives to the consumption of sea turtles eggs, a tradition deeply rooted in Costa Rican culture, but with disastrous consequences for sea turtle populations. The benefits provided by PRETOMA’s projects include classes and activities with children and adults incorporating conservation and English themes, the creation of jobs with the projects and the generation of funds with the renting of cabins, provision of food, tours, etc., for project volunteers, which are recruited from other countries.
With the tagging of the first sea turtle in Camaronal, ACT functionary Alonso Vindas Angulo commented, “with the start of the investigation and conservation of sea turtles at Camaronal we are achieving an advancement that we have dreamt about for years. This project will provide protection of thousands of sea turtles, helping to ensure their existence in the future”.
Regarding the initiation of the project in Costa de Oro, PRETOMA’s Nesting Beach Projects Coordinator, Ingrid Yañez stated, “sea turtle nests laid on solitary nesting beaches such as Costa de Oro, which do not receive any official protection by the government, are poached almost without exception. Without their protection, sea turtle populations will have a difficult time recovering from their already endangered state. We are extremely excited about the Costa de Oro project and the support it has received thus far from community members”.
“The information that will be provided by this network for the management of these species is invaluable” commented Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA. “We have been protecting sea turtle nesting beaches in Costa Rica for over a decade, and PLANS represents PRETOMA’s most important nesting beach protection milestone to date.
To see a map of PLANS as well as photos of the construction of the hatchery in Costa de Oro and PRETOMA’s work with sea turtles, visit:
PRETOMA (Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas) is a Costa Rican non-profit, non-governmental, marine conservation organization that works to promote sustainable fisheries and protect sea turtles, sharks and marine biodiversity. PRETOMA is a member of the IUCN
(International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.tortugamarina.org.