Science, Conservation and Environment
We still know so little about our oceans. The reason why ETC is a Scientific / Community NGO : To be able to protect marine species, we need to know how they live and survive.
Their diet, their habits and preferences, their behavior, and their threats …
Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Monitoring
ETC’s primarily objective and research activity is the protection and monitoring of sea turtle nesting beaches around Punta Descartes. ETC is currently monitoring El Jobo beach (650m in length), Coyotera (700m), Rajada (750m) and Rajadita (350m) for about 3-4 hours each night. Because ETC’s primarily goal is to protect sea turtle nests from illegal poaching, monitoring walks start between 1-3 am and are scheduled following the time and height of the tide. ETC staff and volunteers identify sea turtle tracks, nests and species, then tag and sample nesting sea turtles and relocate threatened sea turtle nests to safer places. The two most common sea turtle species on Punta Descartes’ beaches are the otherwise rare black turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), which both nest year-round on all beaches. From May – September, the extremely rare Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) may also be observed.
There are many reasons why we tag turtles. By tagging turtles with small numbered titanium flipper tags, we can study their migration patterns, estimate how many are currently living in the Pacific region and know which ones are nesting and where they are foraging.
Once this information is collected, it can be used to plan how to better monitor and manage the conservation of sea turtles in the Pacific region.
What should I do if I find a tagged turtle?
The most important thing to remember if you find or catch a tagged turtle is to not remove the tags from its flippers. Aside from causing the turtle pain, losing these tags means that the next time this turtle is sighted, we won’t know it’s history and will therefore lose a lot of valuable information.
Sea Turtle Foraging Ground Monitoring
When environmental conditions allow, two different foraging grounds are monitored, every two weeks in a successive mode: Bahia Salinas to the North and Bahía Matapalito to the South of Punta Descartes, accessed via a 30-45 minutes long boat ride. At foraging grounds, ETC monitors juvenile and adult turtles, which are caught using a specially designed sea turtle tangle net. Additionally, turtles are caught by hand. ETC Biologists, with the help of volunteers, bring turtles on board, which are then measured, weighed, tagged and sampled. The most common species found here are Hawksbill and green/black turtles at all sizes.
Sometimes with the help of donations, we receive a GPS, that is attached to adult sea turtles to monitor their migration routes.
The contamination of beaches has become quite common around the world. This is a result of many people not realizing the effect throwing trash into the sea has on the environment. When we see this problem, we cannot sit around and do nothing.
The North pacific Coast of Costa Rica is extremely rich in biodiversity (up-welling, cold water, protected sites, rocky reefs, coral reefs).
This area was relatively unknown just a few years ago, but now, the tourism sector is undergoing heavy development. A prime example is the large all-inclusive hotel (Dreams Las Mareas). There are smaller hotels scattered around, but as of yet there is no tourism hub, like shopping or entertainment facilities.
This tourism based development attracts people to the area, and has brought to light an incredible natural heritage that must be preserved.
Each Wednesday and Saturday morning, ETC’s children club (“Environmental Protectors”) meet and undertake different activities about the conservation of coastal marine resources, sustainable practices and other related topics. Because ETC operates in a fishing community, conservation and preservation of marine resources often create topics of conflict that have to be solved. We believe kids have the ability to change village behaviors in a progressive and efficient way !