Helping our local turtle population – Story of a family man with a passion
Turtles are one of the most iconic and majestic encounters that you can have underwater. Scuba diving and seeing one is always a thrill. But like many of our amazing creatures they are under threat. Some scientists estimate that sea turtle populations have decreased by 90% over the past 100 years. 90%!!! Think about that for a moment.
Turtles are under threat
There are many factors that have contributed to this . Humans, as ever being the major cause of most of them. They do face natural threats like predation, but, with things like long lining, marine debris, consumption of turtle eggs and turtle meat and marine pollution, the odds of their survival are ever smaller.
One of the factors that make it hard for nesting populations to recover is the fact that only 1 in 1000 to 10,000 of sea turtle hatchlings actually get to adult hood. All these threats combine to make life very hard for them. But, we as ever want to what we can to help.
Isla Damas Turtle nesting beach
Just 1 km from our town of Quepos is the beach of Damas. On this beach, every year Olive Ridley turtles, one of the seven species of sea turtles come up and nest. They visit between the months of June and November with the hatchlings emerging from October to December time. They are on an unprotected beach and subject to poaching from the nearby community. This makes it hard on the population that comes to nest.
But, they have some help. One man, Francisco “Milo” Duran Parra has taken it upon himself to do what he can. Helping the population that is coming and nesting there over the past few years and we want to help him. He lives about 3km up the beach in a very isolated area and most nights when he can he patrols the beach. Retrieving nests that he can to place them safely in the nursery that he has then constructed. He hopes to get there before another person, out to poach the nests does, but sometimes he is not lucky. With the currently situation, we fear that more people will be out looking for the eggs to sell and eat as times are more difficult.
Once they begin to hatch, he releases them again, back into the ocean to make it on their own. By doing this, he is increasing their chances, even a small amount, which makes all the difference.
He has help from his family and a couple of neighbors, who, when able to, will assist him with his mission but this is not a regular occurrence. When the hatchlings are released many of the local community will go and see this amazing event but he never asks for anything. He loves the turtles and wants to help in whatever way he can.
How can we help?
Here at Marine Conservation Costa Rica, we love all aspects of our ocean world and want to help. This project is on our doorstep and we want to help Milo with his mission. Right now, the new season is fast approaching, he has already begun preparing and repairing the nursery for the nests as the turtles come up. But it needs help. The nests need protection from natural predators, like crabs and birds, and from other predators like curious dogs and raccoons. How do we do that? By building the nursery down at least 80cm and reinforcing it with fencing. This takes materials and man power.
We have worked out, that to get the nursery built, that it is reinforced and well protected it will take approximately $500. This includes the materials and the labour to dig the existing perimeter down deeper to protect it from scavenging crabs. We need your help with this. We are asking for donations that we can pass to Milo and his family to help them this upcoming season. Looking to the future we will want to expand our help with this project, including volunteering with his patrols, but right now, this is the most urgent need for the project before the larger nesting population arrives.
This is just one of the small things that we can do to help Milo with his amazing mission of protecting the sea turtles and we hope it will be the start of something more that we will be able to do in the future.
If you can donate any amount to the Damas sea turtle project, please click below, enter your details, and we will see that your generosity goes to the right place.
Let’s help Milo with the turtles. Thank you!