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May 19, 2016

Global Giving Donors visit our Rescue center

Global Giving donors with a green turtle
Global Giving donors with a green turtle

Since we have started our campaign for the Rescue Center, we have received 165 donations! Sea turtle friends from many different countries have donated to our cause. We, at LAST, are very grateful and sincerely appreciate every help. Donations have helped to improve the Rescue Center, supported sea turtle medical treatment, motor repairs, mangrove reforestation, population and health studies.Two donors from Germany had the opportunity to see first hand, how donations make a positive impact. They combined her vacations in Costa Rica with a site visit to the Osa Peninsula and watched our staff and volunteers during the sea turtle work and mangrove reforestation. What is written on Global Giving’s webpage about the project, had turned into real life for Rita and Gisela and we are very happy to say that they had an amazing experience during their stay with us! As you all know, there are many ways to join conservation efforts, whether you make a donation, you sign up for volunteering or you simply help to raise awareness about the importance of protecting marine life. Besides volunteer groups, like Ecoteach groups, the Osa project receives also day visitors. People who cannot commit to volunteer for a longer time, but still want to support the cause, can give one day and volunteer with us. Give a Day Global connects international travelers with daylong volunteer opportunities in order to help nonprofits. Colin and Jen didn’t miss this opportunity and joined the In-water studies for a day. Lucky enough, our team caught a huge green turtle, that had no tags so far and that could be registered as a new individual in our data base.

Another sea turtle patient at the Rescue Center:

Part of our routine when we catch a turtle at the Osa In-water project is to undertake a thorough external health check. We check the turtle for any signs of injury, ill health, abnormalities and parasites. The main parasite we are concerned about is the parasite called Stephanolepas muricata (Steph). It looks like a small spikey ball, a bit smaller than a pea, and it floats around in the sea and latches onto turtles when it encounters them. Once attached they bore into the skin, usually between the scales on the flippers and slowly predate the turtle. Last week we caught a critically endangered adult female hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). Her general health was good, she wasn’t underweight or showing any signs of injury however she was carrying a parasite load of over 200 Steph, mostly in her front flippers.
The treatment is simple and effective. The turtle is checked into the rescue center and kept for 24 hours in one of our fresh water tanks. This is enough to kill the parasites that can only survive in saltwater. We then restrain the turtle on a work bench and systematically remove the dead parasites by tweezing them out and disinfecting the wounds with Vanodine. She was released back into the ocean as soon as the last Steph was removed, and, because we tag every turtle with a unique code we will be able to monitor her progress when we capture her again.

Border-crossing conservation actions improve positive impact on sea turtles

During 26. – 29th of April, LAST and ICAPO (Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative) held an international workshop about sea turtle monitoring and capture methods. 14 participants from Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Ecuador participated and took action themselves. All conservation groups are working with sea turtles and came together to evaluate the best practices for successful monitoring. The goal is to standardize work protocols so that data can be shared easily and meaningful results can be produced. As sea turtles are a shared resource because of their migratory patterns, those results are key for a good conservation management in the Pacific Ocean in the long term. During the workshop, participants had the chance to take data and samples from six hawksbill turtles that were captured during the survey in the Golfo Dulce. We hope to continue using the Osa Rescue center for learning and exchanging experiences on an international level to bring out new conservation leaders and to implement conservation strategies on a broader level.

Motor problems threaten project activities

We had to set up a small micro project with the goal of raising US$ 2500, as our project boat motor kept failing and new parts needed to be bought. In Osa, conservation work depends on a running boat, first to conduct the population studies, and second to be able to transport injured sea turtles that are found in trouble. Thanks to Global Giving Donors we could solve the problems partly and assure repairs but we would urgently need a new motor to secure our work for the future.

Please have a look at the link above and share with colleagues, friends and family. Together, we hope to achieve our goals soon and provide you with more information when our campaigns will end successfully.

Sincerely grateful for all your support,

LAST team in Costa Rica

Preparing the transport for a turtle
Preparing the transport for a turtle
Donors visiting the rescue center
Donors visiting the rescue center
Hawksbill turtle with Stephanolepos parasite
Hawksbill turtle with Stephanolepos parasite
Front flipper loaded with parasites
Front flipper loaded with parasites
During ICAPO and LAST workshop
During ICAPO and LAST workshop

Links:

Feb 22, 2016

Global Giving moves conservation in Osa forward - recent donations support health studies and tools

Evaluating a hawksbill turtle
Evaluating a hawksbill turtle

Sea turtles spend the maximum of their life span in the ocean, using different marine habitats for different stages in their lives. Their migration patterns make it difficult to access and to monitor the species in their natural habitats. Present existing threats increase the pressure on sea turtle populations, and require a holistic conservation program. It is therefore essential to understand marine resources and foraging ground utilized by green and hawksbill turtles in Osa in order to develop a conservation plan for the future. LAST addresses those needs at the In-Water Project at Playa Blanca, conducting habitat studies, operating a rescue center for rehab, reforesting mangroves and monitoring sea grass beds. Volunteers who participate in the project stay with local families and generate a financial benefit to the small local community. We have launched the first online fundraising campaign in September 2015 through Global Giving to be able to improve the rescue center facilities at Playa Blanca. Since then, donors from all over the world have supported this cause and ensured that important equipment could be delivered to treat and evaluate sea turtles in need.

How Donors make a positive change:

We have been able to buy important material and equipment for rehabilitation and research and have received the great amount of 6473 USD up to today. 140 engaged and sea turtle friendly donors have put their monetary efforts into our campaign wanting to save the endangered. Since the last report we were anxiously waiting for the purchase of an adequate treatment table. Now it is done and it will allow to manipulate the specimens in a professional way. The 200 USD stainless steel table will serve for body evaluations, treatments and necropsies. 200 USD were spent for the all-important latex gloves, 350 USD for waterproof survey paper and water thermometers. 550 USD bought us a water quality test that helps ensure the optimum water quality needed for turtles kept in a tank. 2 new super quality wheelbarrows are being used now for a safe transportation of sea turtles, and if needed for monitoring equipment. Volunteers are crucial to our conservation program, as they provide manpower for work activities and assist in sea turtle care and habitat studies. Everyone needs to be prepared at any time to jump into the boat and rescue sea turtles, as at times stranding can occur. 1500 USD were invested in life jackets and boat repair to guarantee safety for all. This year 2016, our team at Playa Blanca conducted 18 surveys so far, with 15 volunteers helping to take data. 9 hawksbill and 8 green turtles have been evaluated, eight re-captures indicated that there was no incident of re-grow of parasites! Nine new individuals have been tagged.

Remember the hawksbill study in the Dulce Gulf, a project of Estefania, a veterinarian and marine biology student? She was working on stable isotopes to investigate the habitat use of the critically endangered eastern pacific hawksbill turtles. The studies aim to gain knowledge about the health status of the population, to determine migration patterns and time spent in foraging grounds, based on components of the turtle’s diet. We are delighted to announce that we could send 50 blood samples of the examined species to the laboratory Albeitar (800 USD). The results are expected very soon and will bring important insights about this specific sea turtle, its preferred diet and habitat – a milestone in sea turtle conservation for the Dulce Gulf in Osa. This research benefits to comprehend the trophic ecology of these species. Evidence on where and what sea turtles eat is key to preserve the locations they use mainly and for risk assessment of human caused threats, like by catch in fisheries or pollution.

 

Next steps: 

The Global Giving campaign has been crucial so far for the advancement of our rescue center and expanded conservation activities. Essential equipment for sea turtle rehabilitation and the ability to conduct further population studies as well as sending 50 blood samples to the laboratory will bring our efforts on a new level – and another step closer to our main goal: Establish solid conservation measures for the region, based on our research and collected data to reduce threats to the critically endangered hawksbill and endangered green turtle significantly. The next report will publish the main results of the hawksbill turtle studies. Our vision is, to work closely with small scale fisheries, helping to create a turtle friendly alternative income, raising awareness about marine life and the importance of the ecosystems of the Dulce Gulf in Osa! There are only 487 USD missing to achieve our fundraising goal. We dearly hope to succeed soon – please feel free to share our cause with your friends and family. Sea turtles will be thankful!

With lots of gratitude, 

LAST team in Costa Rica

Taking a blood sample for isotope study
Taking a blood sample for isotope study
Removed parasites
Removed parasites
Turtle transport to re-release
Turtle transport to re-release
Teamwork
Teamwork

Links:


Attachments:
Nov 24, 2015

A sea turtle's story - vital equipment arrives at the Osa rescue center due to recent donations

Hawskbill turtle on its way to be released
Hawskbill turtle on its way to be released

A sea turtle’s story – vital equipment arrives at the rescue center due to recent donations

Little is known about the population origin and the health status of sea turtles swimming in the Dulce Gulf- the urge for more scientific information and the wish to study sea turtles in their natural habitat have led to the opening of the In-water project at Playa Blanca in 2010. First studies revealed that especially hawksbill turtles show a high presence of a specific parasite, called Stephanolepas muricata. The parasite might not be fatal for the turtle, but if growing, it can affect the flippers so badly that it hinders the animal to swim or dive. Global warming effects have apparently stimulated the parasite to find a new niche – a sea turtle! LAST set up a basic rescue center with few tanks to be able to treat those patients at the project.

Fishery interaction is one of the most serious threats to the recovery and conservation of sea turtle populations worldwide. According to a study, Costa Rica has the highest rate of sea turtle capture by long-­lines, hooking 14 turtles for every 1000 hooks. This mortality rate increases when the long-­liners use live-­bait, as occurs in the Osa region. In January 2013, a massive stranding event was detected by LAST and other organizations. About 280 sea turtles were found dead in the Dulce Gulf in Osa, the result of unsustainable fishing interactions! This unfortunate event had brought our small center to its limits, as we didn't count with all necessary equipment and supplies to deal with so many stranded turtles – and the next rescue center is far away from Osa!

Up to today, more than 600 sea turtles have been studied and more than 75 individuals have been brought to the rescue center. The rescue center serves as well as a learning spot for veterinarian students and young scientists that work towards the investigation of marine turtles in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. This year, more than 450 volunteers took action, including 2 vet student groups and 1 veterinarian is studying the trophic relationship of hawksbill turtles by stable isotopes, using our facilities. One more is just starting his studies on seagrass beds as a critical habitat for sea turtles in Osa.

In recent years, we have observed the need for a better medical treatment at the center, as more and more turtles suffer the negative impacts of contamination and illegal fishing activities in the Dulce Gulf.

How Global Giving has helped:

The participation in the Open Challenge with Global Giving opened up the chance to fill this need. More than 5000 USD for urgently required improvements were raised, thanks to dedicated and environmentally concerned people – our donors! Your efforts make the difference! We are so pleased to announce the purchase and arrival of the first parts of equipment and supplies that are crucial for sea turtle rehabilitation! We were able to invest half of the donations in turtle medicine, holders, thermometers, tank filters, latex gloves, glucose liquid and syringes! Shortly after the new turtle holders had arrived, the Osa team received its first turtle since its partnership with Global Giving on Wednesday, November 11. The adult female hawksbill turtle was spotted in the Dulce Gulf for her 3rd time since the project began. With the records from her previous captures the biologist was able to see that the number of parasites on this turtle was drastically increased since her last capture, in January ’15. The turtle was transported back to the rescue center and placed in a fresh water tank for 24 hours. The parasites cannot survive in fresh water and were afterwards removed by the biologist, in order to avoid re-growth. After data recording, the turtle was then released back into the Dulce Gulf. With the new equipment to come, we will be able to provide the firstlist of blood chemistry that will benefit patients recover in captivity, will complete our studies at the center to find out where our turtles move and support not only the development of joined projects but further more complete and robust conservation strategies for the Dulce Gulf.

Moving forward: 

Half of the donations will be used for purchasing the treatment table, the all-important blood exam kit, a blood lector, an ambulance boat for sea turtles and the creation of a transport fund for turtles to the center or to the vet school in the capital of Costa Rica. We expect to upgrade the rescue center so that we will be able to give an adequate lifesaving treatment for sea turtles in Osa with lighter traumas and injuries. We have pledged for 8000 USD right now on Global Giving to make our dream come true! Take part of a positive change for Eastern Pacific sea turtles, please share our campaign, sign up for a monthly donation or help us to reach our goal with a donation or Gift card for Christmas.

 With much gratitude,

LAST team Costa Rica

Female hawksbill turtle with parasites
Female hawksbill turtle with parasites
Fresh water bath at the center
Fresh water bath at the center
New turtle harness for transportation
New turtle harness for transportation
Equipment and supplies for sea turtle rehab
Equipment and supplies for sea turtle rehab
Rescue center rebuilt after heavy storm
Rescue center rebuilt after heavy storm
Taking stomach content sample for isotope study
Taking stomach content sample for isotope study
Stephanolepas parasite on a hawksbill turtle
Stephanolepas parasite on a hawksbill turtle

Links:

 
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