We work in partnership with local families & the communities around Padre Ramos estuary in northwest Nicaragua to save the three species of sea turtles that return to nest and lay their eggs, including hawksbills (critically endangered), greens (endangered), and olive ridleys (vulnerable). We offer incentives for nests found to local collectors in the area, who may otherwise be tempted to poach, as a mechanism to avoid sale of the species in domestic and international black markets.
Sea turtles are a keystone species and play an important role in a healthy marine ecosystem. However, they face massive threats due to destructive fishing practices, vessel strikes, degradation and loss of foraging habitat, entanglement and/or ingestion of marine debris, loss and alteration of nesting habitats, and egg poaching. Illegal harvesting of eggs remains near 100% at nesting sites without conservation management and this remains the most significant threat to population recovery.
We work in collaboration with the local communities and families to save and protect 3 species of sea turtles eggs. We give cash incentives for nests found to local collectors in the area, who may otherwise be tempted to poach, as a mechanism to avoid sale of the species in domestic and international markets. We document the origin of the eggs, quantity, species, collector, time, & tide. The outdoor hatchery is protected from the elements, as well as from poachers, with a full-time guard.
Our turtle hatchery program was up and running successfully from 2013 to 2017, funded primarily through volunteer tourism. In that time, we were able to release ~125,000 hatchlings with an amazing 93% average success rate across species. With more funding we would like to start new programs including a "head start" program for hatchlings, which research shows would mean a higher chance of survival once released.