Richland Center - Santa Teresa Sister City Project
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.
Arribada beach clean-up
SCP coordinator Alma Susana Chávez organizes regular clean-ups of the Chacocente nesting beach to remove obstacles and harmful substances before the arribada season
begins. She is shown here picking up trash along with other local residernts. Participants include secondary school
students and people from the mayor’s office.
Sea turtle education in the Chacocente schools
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. The visit has become
an annual event.
Cooperation for leatherback hatchery
helps provide wages for local men rotating shifts 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 sea turtles
are disappearing all over the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Santa Teresa Sea Turtle Festival
SCP participates in the annual Santa Teresa Sea Turtle Festival, first held in 2016. This event, held during the nesting season, brings together people from the city of Santa Teresa, Chacocente and tourists, to celebrate and learn about Santa Teresa’s exceptional marine reptiles.
SCP also is active in the national “I don’t eat turtle eggs” campaign, which raises consumers’ and seafood vendors’ consciousness about the negative effect the illegal sea turtle egg trade has had on these endangered animals.