With their impressive beauty and gigantic stature, the fabled sea turtle is on the verge going bye bye from planet earth. Species extinction is largely the result of human development and the destruction of the environment. The once abundant sea turtle now dwindling population reveals the problems caused by unsustainable development. Conservation groups play a critical role in protecting endangered species.
In the Osa Peninsula, these groups rely heavily on the help of volunteers and resorts. These volunteer programs are part of a global trend where people spend their vacation or even honeymoon doing something that makes a positive contribution to the world. And in exchange, many of these volunteers experience a sense of inner personal fulfillment that is priceless.
In Native American culture, the sea turtle is a symbol of wisdom, creativity and longevity. They are one of the earth’s most mysterious and time-honored species. Swimming in the oceans for well over 100 million years, sea turtles predate many species of dinosaurs. Hundreds of years ago there were millions of these ancient creatures, but today they are a critically endangered species. Part of both beach and maine ecosystems, these reptiles spend the majority of their lives in the ocean, and their health is an indicator of the overall vitality of the marine environment.
The destruction of coral reefs, loss of nesting beaches through human development, pollution of the oceans by chemicals and gardens, harvesting of shells, leather and meat, poaching of eggs, deaths in nets and other fishing gear, and a mysterious fatal disease threaten the survival of sea turtles.
The destruction of their nesting habitats is a critical problem. The females don’t reproduce until 35 to 40 years of age, at which time, they return to the beach of their birth to build their nests and lay their eggs. It is the protection of these hatchlings up and down the coasts that ensures the survival of the species.
In the Osa Peninsula, there are four species of sea turtles: olive ridleys, green turtles, hawksbill turtles and leatherbacks. Osa Conservation works with the Costa Rica National Park Service to monitor and protect sea turtles nesting on the beach between Matapalo and Cerate. They have protected over 16,000 sea turtle hatchlings through their efforts and volunteer program. Such volunteer programs are playing an increasingly important role in global sustainability and conservation initiatives that rely on the help from ordinary people in efforts and programs that protect the environment. Crocodile Bay funds the annual patrolling and monitoring of Plaja Pejo Perro, which is one of Osa’s most important sea turtle nesting areas. The resort also donated GPS equipment to aid in tracking the turtles. The combined efforts of conservation groups, volunteers and environmentally responsible resorts together make a significant contribution to ensuring the success of protecting these sea turtles.
Modern society is estranged from nature and places such as Costa Rica are where visitors can connect with nature and become more environmentally literate. The Osa Peninsula’s program initiatives to protect sea turtles are an inspiring example of how conservation and ecotourism work together.