sea turtles

Help Sea Turtle community after Tropical Storm in Costa Rica!

We need your help! The Team Tora Carey at El Jobo Guanacaste lost everything through the passage of Tropical Storm Nate in Costa Rica. Our fishing community is devastated, our two families the guardians of the nests lost everything they had including their homes, and our captain lost his family’s, subsistence, our “turtle boat”.El Jobo has opened its doors and helped us to take care of the turtles, today we need your help to restore the welfare of those who help us make the conservation of these species possible and move forward with them for this cause of all. In your donations, please indicate “Nate”, or specify “Nate-bote” or “Nate-casa” for the needs that you prefer to support.   Help us protect what we love. DONATE HERE  #HelpEquipoToraCarey

First Steps: A Pilgrimage across the Sand

Author: Kristen Sawyer National Geographic Student Expeditions Trip Leader, Costa Rica Community Service It all started with a baby turtle. I had never before held a baby turtle in my hands, its tiny fins pulling across my skin, as if it was churning up its own energy to embark on the longest journey of its short life thus far— surviving the sand, the threats of the water, and fighting for its right to live. I found myself here, on Playa Jobo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, through a perfectly timed connection, as so often happens when working on the ground in a location. My job as a trip leader with National Geographic Student Expeditions grants me the opportunity to plant new seeds in a location; in this case, the area in and around Cuajiniquil, Guanacaste. Nat Geo Student Expeditions is a branch of National Geographic that encourages students from all over the world to explore other cultures and engage with different communities. There are photography, writing, science, and community service expeditions in over thirty countries. I am one of the co-leaders for the Costa Rica community service expedition. Most of our work takes place in Cuajiniquil, a small fishing town close to the border of Nicaragua. There, we have painted the community center, created murals on the high school walls, taught English, assisted farmers clearing their land, and helped to increase tourism to this part of Guanacaste, but we have never before ventured onto the sands of Playa Jobo, even though it is just a mere thirty kilometers away from Cuajiniquil. My connection that brought me to this turtle release is in the form of a sinewy French woman named Mathilde; she is the Environmental Educator and volunteer coordinator of ETC, Equipo Tora Carey, or Team Black and Carey Turtle. Only a year older than me, Mathilde holds herself tall as a woman who has seen, and done, much more. She is the type of strong spirit you hope to win over as a friend, who you want supporting your arguments in a debate. Her values for conservation are strong, and extend into her everyday practices. A friend of a friend had connected us, encouraging me that the two of us should get together, and so, over coffee sips and talk of turtles, a new partnership was formed. That first meeting, Mathilde explained to me the work of ETC. ETC is a NGO based in the town El Jobo; it was started by Maike Heidemeyer, a marine biologist and conservationist,  almost two years ago. ETC has various branches, but its mission is based in conservation, research, and accumulation of resources for yellow neck parrots, sea turtles, and rays. It is an organization intricately woven into the fabric of the El Jobo community and the surrounding beaches. Maike knows that no change can be sustainable without the investment of the community members themselves. She and her team, including Mathilde, work with local fisherman to provide education about sustainable fishing practices, about turtle habits and nesting, and about recycling. The team also teaches kids in El Jobo about the same topics, as well as how to tag and collect tissue samples from rays and turtles. The data is used to prove migratory patterns, genetic of the species and to determine areas for protection. We planned that some of the students I was leading in Cuajinquil could come to help out at one of the kid camps on the upcoming Saturday; they’d clean the beach, tag rays, and snorkel to see the turtles. But before that day came to pass, Mathilde sent me a message early Thursday morning: ‘Baby turtle!’ Later that afternoon, I drove over. I had always loved turtles, but knew very little; in fact, turtles remain a mystery for many. Biologists know they eat jellyfish. They know there are eight species of sea turtle in the world (although this is arguable; some biologists say seven); five of them nest along the shore in Guanacaste. In this particular area of northern Guanacaste, around the peninsula known as Punta Descartes, there are three sea turtles that come to nest: Pacific Black, Olive Ridley, and Hawksbill. Pacific Green and Leatherback also frequent the coast further south. Playa Jobo, where ETC is based, has been said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, but it’s also one of the areas that has seen immense drops in the turtle population. Just off the shore of Playa Jobo, a little further south, a large alimentation site brings red snappers, manta rays, sting rays, sea turtles, lobster, octopus and more. It’s the secret feeding ground of marine creatures from here and from afar— sea turtles from the Galápagos Islands have been found at this site—but the secret is known by the large fishing companies as well. The majority of fishermen, who have fished their entire lives in these waters, utilize methods that optimize productuction, namely large nets with small holes. Even though the fishermen from El Jobo and the surrounding area operate on a smaller scale and don’t use such nets, larger companies from elsewhere in the country do. They drop their lattices to the ground and leave them there overnight, white-toothed jaws lying wide open; the jaws lazily close the following morning around baby fish not yet mature, and all colorful flaps and wriggles of bycatch– turtles, octopus, and even the occasional baby shark. What happens to these creatures when their existence is noted by the fishermen the next morning? Their corpses are left to float away on the waves, to sink or to be eaten; the fishermen shake their heads, counting what gives them profit, never noting the uncountable.    Along with the dangers in the water, the populated, touristic coasts of Costa Rica present their own challenges. The beaches, whether sand or rock, are often peppered with trash: plastic bottles, miscellaneous plastic, bottle caps, beer cans. Our Nat Geo group had worked with the Leatherback Turtle Trust in Playa Grande

Los Protectores del Ambiente del Equipo Tora Carey

En noviembre del 2016 el Equipo Tora Carey comenzó a su programa de educación ambiental dirigido a los niños del pueblo pesquero El Jobo. Estos cursos empezaron con una introducción al cuido de las tortugas marinas de la región. Dentro de los temas trabajados fue la concientización de los diferentes tipos contaminación que existe. Del mismo modo se relaciono la contaminación con el impacto humano sobre la sobrevivencia de estas especies. Estas actividades educativas han sido sumamente exitosas. Al dia de hoy seguimos trabajando con los niños de El Jobo. Nuestro objetivo principal ahora es informar, enseñar y sensibilizarlos en temas como: la importancia de los manglares, los arboles y la fauna de los humedades, la deforestación, la importancia del reciclaje, el consumo innecesario, las diferentes tipos de contaminación que afectan el agua, el suelo, el aire, y el impacto del turismo insostenible. Después hemos empezado temas mas científicos como las rayas y las tortugas. Justamente este último tema lo estamos estudiando ahorra en razón de la abundancia de tortugas a esta época en nuestra región. Cada tema siempre se ilustra con giras en el medio silvestre y apoya el contacto entre los niños y la fauna o flora que estamos estudiando . Así este sábado 5 de mayo hemos organizado una gira con 11 niños del grupo llamado por decisión de ellos “los protectores del ambiente”, gira cual tenía con objetivo observar , capturar y estudiar tortugas negras (Chelonia mydas agassizzi) en un sitio de alimentación llamado Isla los Muñecos. Este día fue rezumado en una historieta (comic) en la cual aparece el famoso SNOOPY acompañando los protectores del ambiente durante esta misión científica. Resulto que capturamos un macho de 83cm de casi 80 kg desconocido de nuestra base de datos. Los niños nos indicaron que esta tortuga era Negra y Macho por su cola larga. Observaron nuestra bióloga Maike Heidemeyer medir, pesar, marcar y tomar foto, tejido y sangre a esta tortuga con interés y respeto. Terminamos esta increíble experiencia observando la tortuga irse nadando bajo del agua y dibujando el comics resumen humorístico de nuestro día!