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

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.  The visit has become an annual event.

Cooperation for leatherback hatchery

SCP 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.