A recent event in Costa Rica has me reminiscing about my time there. Today El País ran an article about the killing of conservationist Jairo Mora, a Tico, who worked to preserve sea turtles on the Caribbean coast of his country. This sad news highlights the high emotions that surround the preservation of sea turtles.
Some Costa Ricans – and people in other countries – eat sea turtle eggs. They are harvested by digging up the holes where female turtles have laid their eggs. Sometimes the occasional dog will do the same, and it is well known that baby turtles scrambling to sea can be swooped up by a seagull for lunch. Human poaching, however, is much more dangerous to the turtles’ survival than natural causes.
I volunteered through PRETOMA at Ostional, a beach located along the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. I will never forget seeing the giant female turtles waddle up and out of the waves, slowly dig their nests, and drop the large, white eggs into the sand. One of our responsibilities was to count the eggs – a laborious task but nothing compared to the amazing cycle of nature we were watching. Another responsibility was our night patrol, making sure that nests were not being dug up. This was the tricky part, as some community members support conservation efforts, and others do not.
A comment from the El País article rang true for me: “Comida para hoy y hambre para mañana…Cuando ya no les quede más playas vírgenes para asfaltar ni árbol por talar, se darán cuenta que el dinero por si sólo no se come.”
Photo credits: costarica.com; fws.org