Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica

by Asociacion Latin American Sea Turtles - LAST
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Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
Protect endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica
night work under red lights!
night work under red lights!

Since 2017 Asociacion LAST has protected a total of 644 sea turtle nests in Pacuare Beach, 492 from Leatherback, 126 from Green and 26 from Hawksbill turtles. The 492 Leatherback nests represent 60.5% of the total nests laid by this species on the 7.1km beach in the last three years, with an average hatching success of 68.7%. This had led to an astonishing 24,804 released baby Leatherback turtles, who one day will hopefully find their way back to the same beach.

Regarding the Green and Hawksbill baby turtles, we have released a total of 6,540 and 2,027 respectively. There are still many nests in the hatchery that will hatch over the course of the coming months, so the number of these Green and Hawksbill baby turtles is yet to grow.

In 2017 we were pleasantly surprised with the visit of one Loggerhead turtle during one of our patrols. We were able to protect and collect this nest and after 60 days, 80 Loggerhead babies were released.

All the above was made possible thanks to the many agencies and supporting partners of LAST. Many volunteers were trained to work alongside our staff.

Unfortunately poaching and hunting remain as threats to the turtles in Pacure beach. 25 Green turtles and 3 Hawksbill turtles were killed by poachers during our patrols. The poaching in Pacuare is a testament to the importance of the work we do to protect turtles. It also shows the importance of involving the community in our work. Over the last three years LAST has involved the community more and more with great results. Many locals who started out as poachers were employed by LAST as patrol guides. Thanks to their dedication and help we were able to reduce the number of poached nests by having more shifts to patrol at night.

We are proud to announce that NO hawksbill turtles were poached in 2019!
LAST hopes to inspire many other locals to become part of the turtle community. This year LAST has offered English lessons to the locals given by our research assistants. The volunteers were able to learn Spanish along side them. This way the volunteers and the locals were able to interact more and this has strengthened the relationship between the Pacuare community and the LAST community. 

Every year we learn more ways to sustain our work so we are able to achieve better results and save more turtles. The equipment for the patrols is essential to our work for collecting scientific data, as is the equipment in the hatchery. The equipment for the hatchery and for the patrols needs to be updated or replaced for the next season. Every year the hatchery needs to be built from scratch. Building the hatchery is hard labor and asks for the right materials. Scientific research has shown that the emergence success of the nests is related to the structure of the hatchery and its maintenance. With new materials and equipment for the hatchery we hope to keep up the good work and the high number of emergences.

LAST has invested most of its funds towards the turtle related work. However, an important part of our mission is to inspire more people around the world to play their part in protecting the turtles. This means recruiting more volunteers and giving them a pleasant stay at our project. Next year LAST hopes to invest more in the maintenance of the station where the volunteers stay. The dock is going to be rebuilt and so are the cabins. The volunteers are brought into the project with boats over the local rivers. Just as the station needs renewal, so do the boats. We hope to be able to create a homely and welcome stay for the volunteers who participate in the conservation work at LAST. They will be the ones to inspire others and share their stories at home. This way the work and awareness will not only be done at Pacuare but all over the world. Protecting and conserving our planet and its endangered animals is a responsibility we all share.

Although slightly short of our final goal, we managed to reach our objectives, and we have decided to withdraw this project from the donation platform.We will soon be launching our new donation project, so if you wish to continue helping the endangered turtles in Costa Rica, please leep an eye on our organization page, and social media!

We would like to thank all the partners, sponsors, donors, volunteers, locals and everyone else involved. Without you we would not be able to achieve our goal to protect and conserve all the species of Sea Turtles in Costa Rica.

results!
results!

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Our nearly full hatchery!
Our nearly full hatchery!

Leatherback turtle season in Pacuare has been very successful. This year the number of saved nests is higher than the previous years. So far 176 nests have been protected. 169 from Leatherback, 6 from hawksbill and one from a green turtle. An estimate of 5, 000 neonates were released from the nests buried in the hatchery and there is still a good amount of nests about to hatch. No green turtle or hawksbill turtle have been killed  this season.

During leatherback season a new scanner was bought to improve the data collection and get more information about the nesting females. The backpacks for the equipment were also replaced.

For the hatchery all of the wire fence was painted to protect the metal from rusting. Two scales and one caliper were bought to weight and measure a certain amount of neonates after they emerge from the nest. Six special tubs were brought to contain the neonates while they’re being counted and measured. Due to the high amount of nests 40 baskets needed to be made we had to get more metal wire and mesh.

In the station the new set of bathrooms were properly painted, especially the doors, to protect them against bugs.

Mosquito nets were bought for each bed in the station and two more bunkbeds were placed in the project. Now there is more capacity in the project and we can welcome more volunteers.

The boat with capacity for 7 persons is being repaired and painted, when new volunteers enter to the project.

Latex gloves, alcohol, cotton balls and clipboards are constantly bought.

As you can see, your donations are necessary for the constant replacement of equipment, and also allow us to contnue to receive volunteers to help us with our work!

the team of staff and volunteers!
the team of staff and volunteers!
measuring the babies
measuring the babies
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Leatherback turtle season started very early this year, during February and, even before the arrival of the staff to the project, two leatherback turtles had laid eggs. Between then and the first week of April, 26 leatherback nests have been saved and moved into the hatchery.

During this period, six leatherback females were found without any kind of tag or evidence or previous tags therefore those turtles were tagged with metallic tags and a PIT tag.

Hatchery building commenced on March 4th and was completed on March 31st in the same position as the previous year. The sand was sterilized with a solution of 4% concentrated bleach mixed with ocean salt water. Shovels and wheelbarrows were purchased to assist in the transportation of sand throughout this process.

To secure the hatchery, 65 meters of wire fence were bought and placed around the sterilized sand, to protect the buried nests from predators and humans. A watching station, which also included plastic roof panels, was constructed alongside the hatchery to ensure the safety and comfort of the volunteers.

For the station, a new cabin with a private bathroom has been built from concrete with a plastic roof to avoid using wood and metal that are not resistant to the weather conditions. This increased capacity for a further eight volunteers.

An additional two showers and two toilets were built in the public bathrooms at the station to ensure groups and independent volunteers felt comfortable throughout the duration of their stay. As this required an increased drainage capability, the tubes used to pull water from the cisterns were replaced for wider tubes, allowing an efficient distribution of the water throughout the property.

The wire fence surrounding the property has been replaced to continue defending the property against unauthorised people and animals from entering and potentially damaging the equipment. The wire fence was protected with a specialised paint to prevent the oxidisation of the metal and increase longevity of the fencing.

A new generator has been bought to decrease the dependency on the solar panel. This will prevent the lack of water used during the project and will also allow us to charge batteries, radios and other equipment. The solar panel will now only be used for the fridge and lighting during the night.

We wanted to increase involvement within the community, alongside our use of the local guides. Within this project, we have started bi-weekly English lessons, held by a research assistant, covering basic verbs in addition to specialised specific language relating to the work. We have continued the weekly Sunday market to allow volunteers to purchase snacks and souvenirs from a reputable source. To continue building relationships, we are in the process of planning a communal meal, to which the local guides and their families could eat alongside the LAST volunteers. We propose that this would continue as a tradition once a month throughout the season.

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LAST Association has a couple of improvements in the station for all the volunteers coming throughout the season that we want to share with everybody:

• The cabins are being cleaned and fixed (woods, locks, mattresses and mosquito nets).

• One of the cabins is being re-built with concrete to make it safer (unfortunately Pacuare is a remote place where the habitants are extremely poor and robbery is a common activity) for the volunteers and their belongings

. • The boats will be maintened and painted again.

A new set of activities for the volunteers will be updated from which volunteers will learn about:

• Recycling trash within the community, thanks to our new separation centre, we can now educate the community on the different types of plastics and how to dispose of their trash  correctly.

• Making our own sustainable garden using any waste and seed at hand - we aim to grow some of the fruits ana vegetables consumed at the project.

• Interacting with the community teaching them English - we feel this is vital for the community to feel more connected to the project, and to give them an opportunity to be involved in our work.

• Turtles and what we can do to protect them and other endangered species - education, education,  education!

• The vegetation and animals around the Caribbean Coast. Wiith a long term plan to reforest some of the indigeounous tree species.

New equipment for the night patrols and the hatchery has been bought, for this season some of our goals are to protect and relocate at least 80% of the total nests laid in the 7.1 km of the beach into the hatchery,

We aim to work closer with the public authorities as police and coastguards protecting sea turtles to avoid poaching and create a friendly environment in Pacuare.  Their presence is of the utmost importance.

In 2019 season we want to involve more people into conservation and share our work with everybody, this way people could learn more about the turtles and our work as a nonprofit organization.

Technology such as thermal camera, radios and drones will be improved to make conservation easier and more successful.

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the weekly market at the station
the weekly market at the station

The hatchery is one of the conservation strategies that gives the project useful information about the incubation methods of sea turtle eggs. It also gives the sea turtles a chance to increase the number of neonates released into the ocean. During the 2018 season the hatchery had an area of 180 m2 with space for 300 total nests. For the 2019 season we are trying to build a bigger hatchery to have enough space for all Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill nests of the season because we are expecting a high number of nests. We will also need more equipment to finish in time for the season.  

The watch station of the hatchery has always been made with the same fence that surrounds and protects the hatchery from predators. For the next year we are hoping to buy a shed to use as a watch station to make the volunteers feel more comfortable and keep them safe from robbery and the weather.

One of the goals of the organization is to increase the information about sea turtle populations in order to develop more and better conservation strategies. To achieve this the tag equipment needs to be fixed and more needs to be bought. During the season we would like to get at least 4 scanners to read and apply the PIT tags on Leatherback turtles, and each patrol needs an applicator and metallic tags to use on the nesting females. With that we would have enough equipment and information for all of the turtles present at Pacuare beach.

During Green turtle season the project is constantly facing the illegal hunting of the nesting females. One of the strategies against this problem is to work with authorities, such as the Coastguards and the Police. We are trying to use a thermal camera that works by attaching it to a cellphone in order to see the tracks made when poachers are hiding a turtle in the vegetation. This  would allow us to rescue and avoid the illegal hunting of Green and Hawksbill turtles.

The station will be fixed and modified for the 2019 season. We bought 102 slabs of plastic roofing, 72 planks of wood, and 4 kilograms of nails to fix the roofs of the Rancho, kitchen, bathrooms and some cabins because the extreme weather, humidity and insects are constantly damaging them. The kitchen will get metallic mesh all around to avoid any robbery.

We would like to get new batteries for the solar panel so that it will have enough electricity for us to use electronic devices such as scanners, cellphones, rechargeable batteries, and a thermal camera for the turtle work. This would also help with lights, a fridge, and radios for the station.

The boats will be painted and the motors will be checked by a mechanic to receive maintenance.

LAST Association will try to employ more local research assistants to increase the economy of the local community. The staff will prepare different activities throughout the season to involve the community in activities with the volunteers, and more locals will be invited to join to the local market held at the station every Sunday.

The hatchery at sunrise
The hatchery at sunrise
our boat
our boat
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Organization Information

Asociacion Latin American Sea Turtles - LAST

Location: Tibas, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @widecast1
Project Leader:
LAST VOLUNTEERS
Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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