In the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, CREMA researchers have been monitoring the population of juvenile hawksbill turtles, which flock to the rocky reefs in the area. These scientists concentrate their activities in the San Miguel area and the monitoring of these turtles has been conducted since 2018.
The main objective is to monitor this small population of turtles, collecting data, monitoring their growth, and recording their weight and behavior during their stay within these reefs. To record this data, periodic visits are made to the area and particularly to the shallow rocky environments, where the turtles are usually found.
DESCRIPTION OF THE AREA
At Cabo Blanco intertidal pools are formed during low tides. These sites are used by turtles to forage for food, and they tend to remain in the area for a period that is not yet fully determined.
During this time, researchers use a specialized net to capture and study them. The net is placed in the middle of the pools and the researchers must wait for a turtle to become trapped. Then, very safely, they remove the turtle from the net and take it to mainland, where all the data are taken.
CONTRIBUTING TO DECISION MAKING
The hawksbill turtle is a critically endangered species. In fact, for many years they were thought to be extinct on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Cabo Blanco is a Marine Protected Area; however, some extractive activities, such as fishing, are permitted.
Considering the above, CREMA, as a non-governmental organization, supports the Ministry of Environment in the management of this area, sharing with them knowledge and information about these species. In this way the authorities have technical information to establish some rules and protect the area from unsustainable activities.
IMPORTANCE OF OUR RESEARCH
We always thought that hawksbill turtles were extinct in the Pacific of Costa Rica, but now, we know that there is a population of these turtles in Cabo Blanco, and we can investigate and protect them.
If the measures taken by the authorities are supported by the research carried out, and if these measures are respected by the locals, the population of the species will probably grow and reach the level it had in the past, when it was much more abundant in the Pacific of Costa Rica.
On the other hand, it is of utmost importance to highlight that sea turtles are an element of great importance for marine and coastal ecosystems, and the hawksbill turtle is no exception. Therefore, research and sustainable management of this small hawksbill population are equally important factors in maintaining the health and well-being of environments such as the Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve and the San Miguel sector.