Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes

by Asociacion Latin American Sea Turtles - LAST
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Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes
Improve conditions for our sea turtle heroes

The work at the station does not cease, although the leatherback turtles are already reaching the end of their season, we are starting the green turtle season and the births of the hatchlings that we have in the nursery, with the help of volunteers and the Research Assistants the collection of the following data has been achieved.

We take measurements from the hatchlings that are born during the night. From each nest 20 hatchlings at random are taken and we measure the length and width of the  carapace three times with the aid of special Instruments.  The 20 hatchlings are weighed, and once we have recorded all the information, the total of turtles from the nest are counted and are released. We always need to release harchlings in diffeent parts of the beach, so as not to create a "restaurant" for predators in the ocean. Up until  July 5th 2022 we have released 1618 hatchlings.

 

We have also been carrying out exhumations of the nests that already hatched. After the first group of turtles leave, we wait   approximately 3 days, for any other hatchlings to emerge naturally,  and then proceed to open the nest to verify the amount of hatchlings that came out and for the final analysis of the nest (no hatched eggs open and the development stage is determined). 

In one of the exhumed nests, dead twin turtles were found (they did not end their development), pitifully they were not successful but this information is used to understand more about the behavior of the population.

We have filled the hatchery this year, but we still have left 53 nests left to hatch, of which 49 are from the leatherback turtle, 1 of hawksbill turtle and 3 of green turtle. We monitor the nests 24hrs per day with the help of volunteers, so that each one can be released safely into the ocean

thats commitment.....

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marking the beach ready for nesting season
marking the beach ready for nesting season

Since the project started at the end of February until today, we have been working on improvements for the station and improvements that will help us on the beach during night patrols.


Due to the pandemic, few volunteers and other factors, the project had to be closed in 2021 earlier than planned, which led to the facilities being left alone for many months. As a result several of the cabins deteriorated due to humidity of the site, the insects that eat wood such as termites, the rains and the high solar radiation received by the area where the station is located. Although some are natural factors, since the site is uninhabited, they generate a greater negative impact.

With the idea of resuming the project and data collection this year 2022, some parts of the station are being remodeled, such as the kitchen, the office where the equipment is kept, the cabins, are being fixed where the volunteers stay, El rancho where the work team is trained etc.

On the other hand, the first research assistants have already arrived at the station and, together with the biologist in charge, This has included marking the beach by means of "mojones" which allow establishing a relationship between the frequency of nesting of turtles and the beach site they prefer to carry out this process.  The mojones were made with wood found on the beach and we also used some trees that remained on the limit of the measurement, and were placed every 50 meters, painted with a white base, black numbers and a reflective tape that makes it easy to find them at night, the total number of mojones placed was 143, starting in Laguna perla with mojón number 0 and ending at the mouth of the Pacuare River with mojón 143.

In addition, these marks allow the beach to be divided into three sectors with the idea of making several patrol groups that cover one of these sectors during the established time (approximately 4-5 hours), thus contributing to having a greater possibility of observing the turtles that come out in the entire beach and expanding the amount of data that can be taken per night.

Training has been carried out for new team members, night patrols and the construction of the hatchery has already started.

hatchery construction
hatchery construction
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Every sector, industry, business and household has been affected by COVID 19.

Not just the virus itself, but the environmental, social, economic and psycological aftermath of repeated lockdowns, restrictions and new regulations.

Many issues that were previously a priority have been pushed aside, as the world struggles to recover.

Conservation is no exception - and whilst we hear wonder stories of wildlife thriving once again in a habitat with less human interaction, the reality in many places couldnt be more different.

As unemployemnt levels soar, rural communities are left with little option but to return to their hunter / forager status of times past.

We are seeing a dramatic increase of poaching levels on nesting beaches, and also the slaughter of turtles for their meat, as people look for a food source and a potential income.  

We have no manpower to protect the beach, the authorities are busy elsewhere closing down illegal gatherings and parties, and we have no funds to support these communities with salaries.

2020 was difficult, but we pulled through thanks to donations and grants, despite having no volunteers and onsite help.

But 2021 has brought new challenges - donations and funds have dried up,  staff are being laid off and taking cuts in salaries, and we have no money for much needed improvements to the installations - a disappointment to the few volunteers that have made their way to Costa Rica this year.

We managed to stay afloat for the main leatherback nesting period - but took the difficult decision to close in September , for the first time ever since the project has been running. Nesting turtles and their eggs had no protection.

We remain optimistic for the Pacuare project for 2022. 

Hoping that volunteers will start to travel again, hoping that we can secure some funding to purchase new beds and mattresses, fix leaking roofs, and build a new kitchen, so that those volunteers can have a comfortable experience.

We also hope that you can share this news with people that you think could help..

Thank you

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nests saved this year!
nests saved this year!

The nesting processes of sea turtles have been recorded in Costa Rica since the 1950´s , and before. The first project to work with sea turtles was the Caribbean Conservation Corporation , the CCC, located in Tortuguero, not very far from where LAST, with the support of  WIDECAST work in Pacuare.

For centuries,  people have being using and consuming a wide variety of sea turtles products . However the human population growth and thesubsequent  increase of the black market has put pressure upon the sea turtle populations along the Caribbean coast. 

 Due to this, many projects have decided to protect the populations of sea turtles in Costa Rica.  One of these projects is the Conservation Project of Sea Turtles in the North Pacuare beach run by Latin American Sea Turtles.

In this project, local community and international staff work together not only  to avoid the poaching of eggs, but also in the  non stop job of scientific research .  The more data we have the stronger our conclusions will be. Balancing society and science is fundamental within the objectives of the project. Local Assistants from the community work alongside international  Research Assistants in patrols, hatchery and other activities.

After COVID paralised the world in 2020, it has been a slow recovery.

We have been patrolling the beach since the 25 of February this year. Our patrols follow the protocols for the research information and the COVID protocol as well.  Thanks  to the hard work done by every patrol we have protected a total of 84 leatherback nests along the way, some of them have being relocated on the beach, while the majority were relocated on the hatchery.

The hatchery is home to 2969 eggs , those that have hatched, hatched with a success percentage of 80,5% which is a very good number, however we are still waiting for many nests to hatch still.

After 2020 , 2021 was a year to fix and rebuild many things, including our cabins which provide housing to our vital volunteers and research assistants. Thanks to the support, we changed the roofs of many cabins, as well, we have painted, changed walls, and with this we have improved the whole station. 

Within the many things we do here at the station one of our most important task is the social aspect. We have worked alongside the community and for the community. This year we havehelped local youths with their distance learning for school. We have also started English lessons for our local assistants.

The hard work that we do in Pacuare is complemented by the support we receive, conservation is always a shared task, and in that sense we have all managed to work together for a noble cause.

training staff and volunteers
training staff and volunteers
local community members involved in conservation
local community members involved in conservation
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freshly painted cabins!
freshly painted cabins!

We face this season with great enthusiasm but with hesitation, to advance in the conservation of sea turtles and their critical habitats,  in the midst of a difficult social and economic situation for the Costa Rican, and especially coastal,  society.

 GG's vital resources have allowed us to paint the station cabins; change the roofs damaged by sea salt;  fix the solar panel to power the project's electronic equipment (such as the microchip scanner for chips installed on the turtles). 

It has also allowed us to buy some kitchen equipment such as a new stove and cutlery for 30 people. These resources have also made it possible to repair the outboard motor starter and give our boat complete maintenance, with which we can not only go out to civilization to buy supplies but also to bring volunteers to support us.

Thanks to these resources we have been able to recruit 16 research assistants, employ a beach coordinator and plan so that at least during April we can have a workforce of about 20 volunteers. During February and March we have also been able to give a little help in food to some people in the community who have supported us with their volunteer work in the construction of the hatchery.

To date and since March 1, we have patrolled the beach and achieved the protection of more than 10 leatherback turtle nests, and it seems that due to this early number of nests,  we will be facing a good season thanks to YOUR support!

new roof being installed
new roof being installed

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Organization Information

Asociacion Latin American Sea Turtles - LAST

Location: Tibas, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website:
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Twitter: @widecast1
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LAST VOLUNTEERS
Tibas, San Jose Costa Rica
$1,482 raised of $8,000 goal
 
21 donations
$6,518 to go
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