Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education

by Corcovado Foundation
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Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education
Volunteers at the Punta Mala Project
Volunteers at the Punta Mala Project

Merry Christmas, and may 2021 bring all families in the world the peace, health, and prosperity we all long! This report is long because, although this year was challenging, we moved every program forward.   With your help, we were able to accomplish more, serve more people, and be more impactful.

What a year this has been!

This year started with many changes; Steven stepped down as president of the foundation after more than two decades of leading it. As long-time members of the organization, Steven invited Jim and me to step on the board. I have served as president of this organization during these challenging times that have hit the world hard.

In mid-February, all the plans for the beginning of the year started to crumble, and in mid-March, everything changed. We had to suspend all in-person training and educational activities planned for the following months. Community park ranger workshops, consultant visits to community-based tourism projects, and meetings of environmental education groups were suspended.

To serve those that need us the most!

We quickly regrouped and committed to staying positive, proactive, and supportive. We soon understood that our duty was to assist the communities we serve, which are highly vulnerable to tourism closure in the area. In Bahia Drake, at least 85% of the people survive directly or indirectly from tourism, mainly international. We decided to readjust and rethink ourselves so that we could help the communities, our members. We started to rethink how to use our platforms and networks to support those who need us the most. To do this, we started using our media to raise funds and buy food and cleaning supplies for the elderly population and the most impoverished families of Bahia Drake. At this point, we have raised USD 14,000, and we have delivered 450 food packages to 50 older adults and families living in poverty since the end of March.

Regenerative agriculture

We have managed to refocus some of the funds approved for activities such as workshops and field trips, which given the pandemic, will not happen, and we have used them to promote regenerative agriculture in the communities. Regenerative agriculture will help us promote food independence and, at the same time, encourage practices that allow soil restoration. The idea is to help communities plant their gardens in their homes or farms in a regenerative way to guarantee their sustainability and productivity. With the pandemic's arrival, we realized regenerative agriculture could help local families alleviate the family's economic situation, reduce the pressure on natural resources, and reduce the hunting of wild animals. Thanks to that, 24 families have completed their regenerative agriculture training after receiving five theoretical workshops and three practical visits. They have learned about soils, preparation of cultivation beds, organic fertilizers and repellants, extraction and conservation of seeds, and seedlings preparation. They have also received all the materials and supplies needed to produce their crops.

Virtual environmental education

Regarding our environmental education program, we have also reinvented ourselves. Our environmental educator has been creating videos for children, challenging them to practice, research, or do an environmental educational activity from home. They send us back their photos and videos doing it, thereby keeping the children at home interested, active, and motivated. For the longest time, our environmental education activities were the only extracurricular activities these kids had. Then once the schools closed due to the COVID19, our activities were the only educational activities available. We delivered fruit trees, endangered trees, and educational supplies to each kid in the groups. More than 40 kids in the communities received watercolors, markers, cardboard, pencils, among other things. This material will help the kids participate in the remote challenges from the safety of their homes. We have carried out more than seventeen environmental challenges, in which up to 27 children have participated per session.  

Sea turtle conservation

This year, we did not have international volunteers. This was a challenge because we have been able to maintain the program through the support of volunteers who come to work on the beach and pay for their food, accommodation, and part of the cost of the project. However, instead of reducing our sea turtle project's impact and scope, we have expanded it and double its efforts. We are now working in two beaches: Punta Mala-Playa Hermosa on the Central Pacific and Rincón near Corcovado National Park.

We moved our sea turtle conservation program in Playa Rincón to Esteban's property. This local young man has spent several years working in turtle conservation and owns a beachfront property in the Rincon area. The results there have been excellent. We have been providing Esteban with the funds for his salary and to purchase food for his volunteers. He has managed to lead a group of local kids that have been very committed and successful at protecting the sea turtles. They had 17 volunteers and 102 nesting activities, of which 92 nests were relocated to the nursery and 7 nests were poached. 3800 baby turtles were released, which means a 95.1% hatching success.

In Punta Mala, we have had a team of 3 members, who with the support of 26 volunteers, mostly Costa Ricans, managed to take care of 924 nesting activities, including 490 nests that remained on the beach and were not depredated, 224 nests relocated in the nursery, 121 nests lost to predators, and 12 poached nests. This beach is crucial because of the massive amount of nesting, the pressure from predators and poachers, the eroded beaches, and other natural and human impacts on the sea turtle nesting activity.  

Other community accomplishments!

  • Seventy community park rangers trained and equipped to support the Corcovado, Piedras Blancas, Marino Ballena national parks, and Golfo Dulce Forestry Reserve.
  • Eleven people from the La Amistad-Talamanca communities trained to obtain their official guide certification, which meant an investment of $2000.00 per guide.
  • Eight grassroots organizations in the La Amistad-Talamanca region strengthened with technical support to improve their sustainability.
  • Together with Terri and Gary, we are organizing a castration event for 40 dogs on Dec. 13.
  • Thanks to a donation of 6000 kg of dog food from the Humane Society, we have provided 96 dogs in Los Planes and 67 dogs in Los Angeles with food, reducing predatory pressure on the environment.  300 more dogs will receive support soon.

After 10 years of waiting, and thanks to the leadership of our very own Mayra and our lawyer Estela, the Ministry of Education approved the land's purchase to build a proper high school for Drake Bay.

It has not been an easy year, but we have adapted and reinvented ourselves. We have been at the forefront of a series of initiatives, being among the first to move from doing face-to-face activities to online workshops, virtual environmental education activities, and fundraising to feed the most vulnerable. We are very grateful for your support. Everything we have achieved is thanks to you, who supported us and trusted us.

The seaturtle nursery
The seaturtle nursery
Regenerative agriculture 2
Regenerative agriculture 2
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Regenerative agriculture
Regenerative agriculture

Not every country celebrates Thanksgiving. It is not a Costa Rican tradition. But giving thanks should be a daily thing and having a holiday to give thanks it’s a wonderful idea!

Let us not fool ourselves, 2020 has been a really challenging year.   So many people unemployed all over the world -40% of Costa Rican households will fall under the line of poverty by the end of the year- and so many people have fallen to the COVID 19. It has also been a tough year weather wise; draughts, hurricanes, and floods are hitting us left and right. Not an easy year.

Yet, I can not help to feel grateful. This year you -and friends like- you have stepped up more than ever to show your solidarity! Your trust, generosity, and commitment have helped us bring relief to people in the most vulnerable and impoverished places in the Osa Peninsula. Thanks to you we have

  1. Supplied relief has brought food to 50 elderly every month since April 2020,
  2. Protected more sea turtles nests than ever before,
  3. Given remote environmental education every week to kids all over the Osa Peninsula
  4. Provided training, materials, and organic seeds to 30 families who are now practicing regenerative agriculture as a way to improve their food independence without damaging the environment.
  5. Trained and certified 11 tourism guides in the Talamanca Region
  6. Supplied training to 10 associations all over the Talamanca region
  7. And this end of the year we will be bringing Christmas gifts to 95 kids all over the Osa Peninsula whose parents are struggling.

There is so much need in the country and in the world, but through this bleak time that has been 2020, you have been a light helping stay on track.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy it, and if you don't, I hope you have lots of things to be grateful for anyway.   We are indeed thankful for you!

Stay safe and healthy! 

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Adopt a nest program
Adopt a nest program

Dear friend

Since Friday, August 14, a team from the Corcovado Foundation, coordinated with the MINAE and the Playa Hermosa-Punta Mala National Wildlife Refuge administration, has carried out Sea Turtle Conservation activities in this protected area. This effort seeks to promote the conservation of the populations of sea turtles that reproduce in the Central and South Pacific of Costa Rica, promoting responsible tourism and communities' participation through the sustainable use of their natural resources.

This wildlife refuge has proven to have an exceptional amount of sea turtle nesting activities. This Monday, October 26, we had registered 1,128 nesting activities, most of them: olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).

In our first patrol on the beach of Playa Punta Mala, we understood the enormous challenge and responsibility we had to protect this beach. Since then, our goal has been to preserve the most significant number of nests, release the largest number of turtles to the ocean, and create awareness among local people and tourists of the true natural heritage in this wildlife refuge.

Now we have the hatchery operating at full capacity, and we have relocated there 205 olive ridley nests and one hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) nest. To date, we have released a total of 2,261 baby turtles, including turtle eggs seized from poachers by Park Rangers in Playa Hermosa. This huge number of n demonstrates the importance of this collaboration between SINAC and the Corcovado Foundation.

On the other hand, despite the global complications that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated, and complying with all hygiene protocols, we have been able to work with national and international volunteers who have marveled at the natural treasure that protects this refuge. They leave the project satisfied that they have actively contributed to the conservation of this emblematic reptile, which has swum our seas since ancient times, and which today is dramatically threatened by human beings' activities.

Interaction with tourists entering the refuge has been important: most of them do not know that these beaches are nesting areas for sea turtles, so our constant work is to make them aware of the turtles that come to spawn. This has turned out to be incredibly positive and very well received, as everyone is captivated when they see the little turtles return to the ocean.

Definitely, the mutual support that has originated from the participation agreement between SINAC and the Corcovado Foundation, has allowed the Conservation Program to be implemented successfully, raising awareness among locals and tourists who visit the refuge and thus guaranteeing the conservation of this important species.

Your support has made our program possible.  Thank you so much!  You can adopt a nest for a loved one and we can name it after them, when the sea turtle babies are born, we will send you updates and pictures.

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Making our new nursery
Making our new nursery

Español a continuación

The lifeblood of our Sea Turtle Protection Program — our International volunteers.

 …. without them we are struggling.

 For 15 years, the Corcovado Foundation’s Sea Turtle program has been helping thousands of baby sea turtles make it to the ocean.  By the end of 2019, we had protected approximately 9,650 nests, and released close to 90,400 baby turtles, and, thanks to the protection of the nests on the beach, another 720,000 should have made it to the ocean. By 2020, we had launched three projects in three different communities; two of them now run by local leaders.  

We have been able to achieve this level of success because of committed donors, biologists, assistants, and local and international volunteers all of whom supported our efforts with their time, talent, passion, and yes, their generous financial support. 

Protecting 100 to 180 nesting sea turtle moms on our beaches is not a priority to prominent NGO's supporting sea turtle conservation. The numbers are not significant enough to attract their support. But here on the Osa Peninsula, the decimation of the population will cause the local ecosystem to deteriorate. When a species disappears, a critical balance is broken. 

We have only been able to maintain the program through the support of volunteers that come to work on the beach and pay their food, lodging, and part of the cost of the project. Biologists and assistants either donate their time in exchange for food and accommodation or charge us the bare minimum they can, to protect these reptiles. Our volunteers are the front-line warriors of conservation, working endless nights on the beach to protect the sea turtles, sometimes in drenching tropical rains, and facing all kinds of challenges.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, came challenges we simply could not predict. Our international volunteers and biologist are unable to fly as Costa Rica's borders are still closed to visitors. We have lost the dozens of international volunteers who come each season to stand vigil with staff and volunteers from the Corcovado Foundation, protecting the nesting sites from predators, including human poachers.

 COVID-19 also shut down Costa Rica’s vital tourism industry, leaving entire towns unemployed. With dwindling income for food and other essentials, even communities concerned about their surrounding natural resources are seeing their only options as hunting, gold panning, or logging.  

Sea turtles and their nests are easy prey for desperate people.  The sea turtle mothers are slow, and their meat is very well-liked. The turtle’s eggs are considered a delicacy and men eat them as an aphrodisiac. Therefore, sea turtles have been in significant demand in Costa Rica for decades, but more so now that jobs are scarce, and incomes have shrunk due to the lack of tourism.

 To meet this challenge, we are trying to hire local people, paying the much-needed full salaries in the communities. To afford these salaries and the food for local volunteers that are helping us, we have requested the support of some of our most committed donors.  They have come up with enough partial funding to get us through 85% of the season.  However, we need at least $2,000 USD more to bring the project to December to complete the full nesting season.  So, this year, more than ever before, we need your help, no matter the amount. Importantly, on July 15th, any donations from $100 up to $1,000 will be matched by GlobalGiving.  This is a great time to support our cause and help us make it to the end of the year

 

 


Nuestros voluntarios internacionales son el elemento vital de nuestro programa de protección de tortugas marinas

Sin nuestros voluntarios internacionales carecemos del apoyo que necesitamos para nuestro programa de conservación de tortugas.

Durante 15 años, el programa de tortugas marinas de la Fundación Corcovado ha estado ayudando a miles de tortuguitas marinas a llegar al océano. A fines de 2019, habíamos protegido aproximadamente 9.650 nidos y habíamos liberado cerca de 90.400 tortugas bebés.  Gracias a la protección de los nidos en la playa, otros 720.000 deberían haber llegado al océano también. Para este 2020, hemos arrancado tres proyectos en tres comunidades diferentes; dos de ellos ahora dirigidos por líderes locales.

Hemos podido alcanzar este nivel de éxito gracias a donantes comprometidos, ¡biólogos, asistentes y voluntarios locales e internacionales!   Quienes han apoyado nuestros esfuerzos con su tiempo, talento, pasión y sí: su generoso apoyo financiero. Proteger de 100 a 180 madres de tortugas marinas que anidan en nuestras playas no es una prioridad para las ONG prominentes que apoyan la conservación de las tortugas marinas. Los números no son lo suficientemente significativos como para atraer su apoyo. Pero aquí, en la Península de Osa, la destrucción de la población hará que el ecosistema local se deteriore. Cuando una especie desaparece, se rompe un equilibrio crítico.

Solo hemos podido mantener el programa a través del apoyo de voluntarios que vienen a trabajar a la playa y pagan su alimentación, alojamiento y parte del costo del proyecto. Los biólogos y asistentes donan su tiempo a cambio de comida y alojamiento o nos cobran lo mínimo posible para proteger a estos reptiles. Ellos son los guerreros y guerreras de primera línea para la conservación de las tortugas marinas trabajan noches interminables en la playa a veces bajo lluvias tropicales y enfrentan todo tipo de retos.

Con la pandemia de COVID-19, surgieron desafíos que simplemente no podíamos predecir. Nuestros voluntarios internacionales y biólogos no pueden volar ya que las fronteras de Costa Rica aún están cerradas para los visitantes. Hemos perdido a las docenas de voluntarios internacionales que vienen cada temporada para vigilar con el personal y los voluntarios de la Fundación Corcovado, protegiendo los sitios de anidación de los depredadores, incluidos los cazadores furtivos humanos.

COVID-19 también cerró la industria turística de Costa Rica, dejando desempleados a pueblos enteros. Con la disminución de los ingresos por alimentos y otros elementos esenciales, incluso las comunidades preocupadas por sus recursos naturales circundantes ven sus únicas opciones como la caza, la extracción de oro o la tala.

Las tortugas marinas y sus nidos son presa fácil.  Las tortugas madres son lentas y su carne es muy apreciada. Los huevos de tortuga se consideran un manjar y los hombres de comunidades rurales los comen como afrodisíacos. Por lo tanto, las tortugas marinas han tenido una demanda significativa en Costa Rica durante décadas, pero más aún ahora que los empleos son escasos y los ingresos se han reducido debido a la falta de turismo.

Para enfrentar este desafío, estamos tratando de contratar a personas locales, pagando los salarios completos que tanto se necesitan en las comunidades. Para pagar estos salarios y la comida para los voluntarios locales que nos están colaborando, hemos solicitado el apoyo de algunos de nuestros donantes más comprometidos.  Ellos han aportado suficientes fondos para ayudarnos a operar el 85% de la temporada. Sin embargo, necesitamos al menos $2,000 USD más para completar el proyecto hasta diciembre y proteger toda la temporada de anidación.

Este año, más que nunca, necesitamos su ayuda, sin importar la cantidad. Es importante destacar que, el 15 de julio, GlobalGiving igualará cualquier donación de entre $100 hasta $ 1,000. Este es un buen momento para apoyar nuestra causa y ayudarnos a llegar a fin de año.

Adjusting to COVID
Adjusting to COVID
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As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to take human lives, the methods used in each country to protect the health of its citizens have also benefited wildlife and habitat. Unfortunately, there are also some unfortunate consequences for wildlife on the Osa Peninsula that are now coming into focus.

Sea turtles and their nests are easy prey for desperate people.  Without tourism, we have lost the dozens of volunteers who come each season to stand vigil with staff and volunteers from the Corcovado Foundation to protect the nesting sites from predators, including human poachers. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our program. They not only provide the workforce needed to protect the beaches, but their financial contributions help us pay the salaries of biologists.  No one knows when our volunteers will be able to join us again, and so, our sea turtle populations are once again at considerable risk.

The COVID-19 shut down of Costa Rica also shut down tourism, leaving entire towns unemployed. With dwindling income for food and other essentials, even communities concerned about their surrounding natural resources are seeing their only options as hunting, gold panning, or logging.   Sadly, this desperate and destructive activity is happening all over the Osa, and tragically, inside Corcovado National Park. There, Park authorities find themselves facing off with large groups of gold miners and hunters that are once again invading the park.

So just as we were making significant progress, saving thousands of baby turtles, educating people about their importance, and how a sea turtle alive is much more valuable than a dead one, the virus set us back — financially and in the number of volunteers.

Life is challenging enough for these tiny hatchlings, first being able to survive in their eggs, undisturbed beneath the sand long enough to hatch. Then, they have to run the gauntlet of jaws and beaks of the mammals and seabirds who stand between them and the water.  Once in the ocean, they're on their own to face a new wave of marine predators, among them, more humans. People will destroy them with chemical and waste pollution, fishing nets, and the plastics that wound, strangle and kill at every stage of their lives.

You are the solution. We understand that the economic times are hard everywhere, we're asking for any donation you can make to help us hire residents of the Osa Peninsula to replace our volunteers now and over the next few months. We'll pay them to build the new hatcheries, and help guard them against the dramatic increase in egg poaching and aggressive predators. Your support will help us give people a way to make even a little money and lessen the need for them to depend on jungle meat and turtle eggs.  

If you would like to get more information about the situation we are facing, or if you think that you can help us in one way of the other, please do not hesitate to reach me at alejandra@corcovadofoundation.org.

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Organization Information

Corcovado Foundation

Location: Moravia,, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website:
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Project Leader:
Alejandra Foundation
Moravia,, San Jose Costa Rica
$30,359 raised of $45,000 goal
 
457 donations
$14,641 to go
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