A volunteer absorbing the nature of Rio Oro
In 2015, the program took on a whole new level of responsibility, as we headed to the pristine wilderness of the Rio Oro National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. We had been trying to raise funds to set up a project at this beach for many years, and thanks to donations from individuals like you (and major funding from Pacsafe and the Rufford Foudation) we were finally able to realize that dream in July 2015. What we found was a nesting site of undoubted major importance, but one that was visited not just by sea turtles but also a huge number of poachers. They were somewhat surprised to see us there as the beach had remained abandoned for many years and it was well known locally that Rio Oro was the place to go to take sea turtle eggs.
It is difficult to tell exactly how many nests they took before, but suffice to say about half of all the nests poached during the 2015 season were taken within the first three weeks. After that, the number rapidly dropped off as more and more poachers realized that we were there to stay, and so our presence functioned as a very efficient deterrent to the less determined of poachers.
In the end just 0.7% of nests were taken, which is a huge success (in Drake Bay around 10% are lost every year). The best part was just how many nests we found – over 3,000 were registered in six months, and some nights over 200 turtles would crawl from the sea in just a few hours! What a privilege to have worked there! Here are just a couple of the comments from the record 196 volunteers who came to work with us this year, many more can be found here: http://cfseaturtles.blogspot.com/
“The Corcovado Sea Turtle conservation program was a very unique experience filled with great people and great memories. It is gratifying to feel as if I have made a difference even though it made be small...every little bit helps. Meeting new people, observing turtles and making long lasting memories are things that I will never forget. I have only positive things to say about my turtle time in Drake Bay and Rio Oro.” - Ange Mariano
“My time at Rio Oro was magical. I can´t explain the beauty or tranquillity of the place. I saw vacant beaches and rainforests filled with turtles, toucans and anteaters. I also formed friendships that will last a lifetime. The whole program is a must!” – Anonymous
“If technology was ever missed, it was soon forgotten by the magnitude of everything around you, and if anything it has begun to feel almost like a hindrance to experiencing real life. Would we had paid as much attention to the sound of the jungle had we been able to watch movies in our down time? Or been as impressed by the sheer volume of water that can suddenly erupt from the sky? This place has a wealth of intelligent, passionate people, scenes of sheer beauty that leave you in awe and 'things-to-do' that will inspire you and encourage you to reflect on more than just the superficial.” – Ada Poulsson
We couldn’t agree more, and we can’t wait to get started in Rio Oro again in July 2016. The program has lots more surprises in store too as we expand and diversify the activities we offer to volunteers. There is exciting news from Drake Bay as well, and so we will write again very soon to tell you all about it.
In the meantime we wish to thank you all so much for your extraordinary support and generosity this year, and we look forward to telling you all about our hopes and dreams for the 2016 season, and how we can convert your donation dollars into major conservation achievements and tangible socio-economic benefits for rural communities in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Images courtesy of the volunteers J
Volunteers at the turtle camp in Drake Bay
A baby Olive Ridley turtle on Rio Oro beach
A volunteer with an Olive Ridley turtle at sunrise