Turtle Conservation in Nicaragua
Well, it’s here, it’s officially World Turtle Day people! And even though we love ALL types of turtles, we’re especially fond of the baby turtles at Rise Up Surf. We developed a bit of a soft spot for these little guys earlier in the year when we got to assist in the release of a couple-hundred hatchlings with a local conservation project at Jiquilillo beach.
World Turtle Day – Sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue – was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Interestingly, Nicaragua is among the few countries in the world where sea turtles come to lay their eggs.
Understandably, this event is attractive to international tourists. Because it’s such a rare occurance, happening only a few times a year, there are several factors that threaten the longevity and viability of the eggs. Because of this, there are several organizations throughout Nicaragua that aim to increase the chances of survival for all of our little friends.
Unfortunately, the journey from the nest to the open water is the most dangerous part of the baby turtles’ lifes. There are many threats to the small turtles, and only few out of the thousands hatchlings survive until adulthood. But aside from predators that form part of the natural cycle, these turtles face even graver danger from humans.
Up and down the Pacific coast, there exists much poverty for the local people, many of whom have inherited the tradition of utilizing sea turtles and their eggs for food and commercial product. While this has been made illegal in Nicaragua, there is little enforcement of the law. While there are organizations aiming to control the impact that this hunting has on the turtle population, there are few covering the Pacific coast, which has brought us to an alarming situation. Sadly, the two species that frequent this coast are both in danger of extinction.
And that’s why the experience that we got to have was so special. It’s because of these small, locally-run conservation projects that any of these turtles have a chance of survival. And when you’re out in the surf and see a tiny turtle-head bobbing by, you can’t help but smile and chear the little guy on.
Thankfully we had videographer Clem on hand to document the special moment so that we could share it with you all. Check out the video below, or hop on over to Youtube and subscribe to our channel so that you never miss a video.
So if turtle-conservation is something you’re passionate about, there are a couple different ways that you can get involved. Two notable organizations in Nicaragua are the Cocibolca Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), both of which you can donate to online. But if you’re looking into a stay with us at Rise Up and want to get involved with a turtle-release project, then consider coming during the peak hatching season (September-February) or just mention it in your reservation inquiry and we’ll try to make your turtle dreams come true. You can book your trip here.
And while we want you to enjoy the beautiful Pacific beaches and these wonderful creatures, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you do encounter them in their natural habitat, curteousy of Vianica.com.
When watching turtles, please take the following guidelines into consideration to ensure that the turtles can safely come to the beach and lay their eggs.
- Always stay at a distance of at least 3 meters, and never get in front of the turtle – always watch the turtle from behind.
- Remain very quiet and do not move around when the turtle is laying her eggs. Instead, sit down and relax while enjoying this natural miracle.
- Once the turtle finishes laying her eggs, immediately step away to create space for her to return to the ocean.
- Do not form a circle around the turtle; this can be very stressing for the turtle.
- Visiting at night? Do not shine light on the turtle because this can cause her to stop laying eggs and return to the ocean.
- Taking pictures and especially using flash or other unnatural light is restricted and controlled by the guides. The only moment to take pictures is when the turtle has started to lay eggs and the guide indicates that pictures can be taken.
- If there are baby-turtles getting out of their nest, do not touch them. Bacteria, repellent, or any food rests can harm the hatchlings. If it is absolutely necessary to pick them up, be sure to wash your hands carefully. If a hatchling is trapped just put it back on track, do not bring the turtle all the way to the ocean.
- Garbage does not form part of the natural environment. Do not throw it on the beach.