First Pacific Leatherback Nest Protected in Proposed Caletas Refuge
October 14, 2005 – San Jose, Costa Rica
On October 11 the PRETOMA sea turtle conservation and research team recorded the first leatherback sea turtle nest of the season at the proposed National Wildlife Refuge site, Playa Caletas, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The leatherback observed laid 42 eggs which were transferred by Project Assistant Viktor Poor and Chris Eaton to the project hatchery for protection until they hatch. The turtle had a carapace length of 1.38 meters and had been tagged by a PRETOMA biologist at Caletas in February of 2004.
Leatherbacks in the Pacific waters off the coast of the Americas are the most endangered sea turtles in the world. Their population has declined 99% during the last 25 years. In 1980 it was estimated that more than 91,000 adult females existed. It is now estimated that fewer than 1000 remain.
Costa Rica is the most important country for nesting Pacific leatherbacks in the Americas. Playa Caletas, where there were 6 Pacific leatherback nests last season, is considered the second most important nesting beach in Costa Rica for these turtles. Playa Grande, in Las Baulas National Park, is the most important beach where fifty-two leatherbacks nested last year down from nearly 1400 just 15 years ago. These figures demonstrate the severely endangered status of leatherbacks and demonstrate the critical need to designate Playa Caletas as a National Wildlife Refuge, a task PRETOMA is working on directly with the Ministry of Environment (MINAE).
“We are very excited about this event because every single leatherback nest counts,” says Ingrid Yanez, Co-Director of PRETOMA Beach Projects. “It also counters some sad news that a leatherback nest had been poached just days before in Playa Avellanas, 20 km north of Caletas. It is vitally important for us to realize that when any leatherback nest is poached the chance of recovery of this species is severely reduced. We make an urgent call to end nest poaching so that generations will be able to see leatherbacks on Costa Rican beaches in the future.”
PRETOMA is currently conducting a campaign urging the Costa Rican government to lead the way at the UN to save leatherback sea turtles. To sign the petition, please call ++(506) 236-0884.
Link to leatherback fotos:
http://www.tortugamarina.org/downloads/images/baulanadando.jpg (cite Doug Perrine)
Link to TV PSA (Footage from “Last Journey for the Leatherback?”): http://www.tortugamarina.org/index.php?lang=en
CONTACT: Ingrid Yanez, PRETOMA
TEL: +(506) 241-5227
FAX: +(506) 236-6017
PRETOMA (Programa Restauraci