Sea Turtle Conservation

The southern quarter of the Santa Teresa municipality is the Rio Escalante-Chacocente Wildlife Refuge, a Nicaraguan protected area. The Refuge is a mountainous area of dry tropical forest along the Pacific Ocean.  Chacocente has one of the world’s eight remaining olive ridley sea turtle arribada (mass nesting) beaches, where thousands of these turtles will arrive to lay their eggs within the space of a few days. The reserve also hosts a small nesting population of the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle.

The SCP helps with:

Equipment for the arribada beach guards

We provide support for the MARENA (Nicaragua’s DNR) station at the arribada beach—funding equipment and emergency food for the Chacocente  rangers from the local communities. The protection of the turtles has improved, and the number of nesting olive ridley turtles has been increasing, with over 71, 000 nests in 2012-13. We stay in close contact with the Refuge director, in order to help with any quickly needed turtle protection advocacy.

Arribada beach clean-up day

SCP organizes regular clean-ups of the Chacocente nesting beach in order to remove obstacles and harmful substances before the arribada season begins. In 2013 the Santa Teresa mayor and municipal office workers helped SCP coordinator Alma Susana Chávez and secondary school students remove 500 pounds of trash from the beach.

 

 

Cooperation for the leatherback hatchery.

SCP helps provide wages for local men working as guards and data takers at Fauna and Flora International’s (FFI) Chacocente leatherback hatchery. The numbers of leatherbacks coming to Chacocente is very small, but the hatchery is important, because these giant turtles are disappearing all over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

 

Bringing sea turtle education to the Chacocente schools

An educational sea turtle coloring book created by the SCP has been used for years by Chacocente children. Regular workshops about sea turtles are given in the community schools.  A one-day visit was made by all the Chacocente schoolchildren, many who had never seen the ocean, to the arribada beach. The children took a pledge, marked by their handprints, to protect the sea turtles, and received t-shirts to remind them of their promise. 

 

 

“I don’t eat turtle eggs” campaign

The taking and consumption of sea turtle eggs is now illegal in Nicaragua. This national campaign, begun by FFI, raises consumers’ and seafood vendors’ consciousness about the negative effect the sea turtle egg trade has had on these endangered animals. It also addresses the illegal sale of tortoiseshell from the hawksbill sea turtle.