Six of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered or at risk of becoming endangered. Only about 1 in 1,000 baby sea turtles will make it to adulthood. The natural obstacles faced by young and adult sea turtles are staggering, but it is the increasing threats caused by humans that are driving them to extinction.
At the FCOLC we strive to change the odds of these beautiful marine animals. So far, we’ve achieved some BIG milestones. To date, our Sea Turtle Program has saved over 750,000 sea turtle eggs from the illegal market and released over 680,000 hatchlings into the ocean since its inception.
The FCOLC has brought its Sea Turtle Program devoted to education, research, and rehabilitation to the northwestern Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
On the coasts of Nicaragua, five of seven sea turtle species in the world feed, mate and nest. In Nicaragua, and elsewhere, sea turtles have historically been used as a resource by Caribbean coastal communities, who see these precious animals as a means of satisfying their food needs and obtaining economic income through the sale of eggs and articles made from sea turtles, With growing demand driven by overpopulation, these practices have placed sea turtles at more risk for survival.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAM
Execute nest relocation methodology with local community participation
Identify different types of congenital malformations
Establish women’s empowerment program via sustainable tourism and environmental education
Enable the participation of 300+ students from UNAN-Leon (Biology, Veterinary, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Medicine, English, Law, Social Work)
Involve 75+ children and young adults from the community to create an environmental exhibition and educational program
Boost tourism and economic benefits by creating interactive events and guest participation in the release of sea turtles
In 2010, Fabien began work in El Salvador, collaborating with VIVAZUL (Live Blue), an El Salvadorian conservation organization dedicated to protecting sea turtles. With the Ocean Learning Center, he focused efforts on restoring sea turtle populations with the tortuguero communities in El Salvador.
The FCOLC established hatcheries for rescued eggs and developed alternative sources of income for the local community while extending the outreach via educational programs to help save and release as many hatchlings as possible in multiple locations in El Salvador.
In Nicaragua, the FCOLC, along with the UNAN-León have joined forces to conduct on-going research projects and environmental community education programs that aim to protect and conserve the sea turtle populations.
Participating organizations include:
UNAN-Leon (state-funded public university of Nicaragua)
Juan Venado Island Nature Reserve
MARENA (Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources)
Local community members
SEA TURTLES FROM THE START
The program works with women from local communities to build and maintain women-owned and operated facilities responsible for conducting sea turtle research, conservation and education.
Central to this program is the focus on empowering women from local communities to build and maintain female-owned and operated ecotourism companies and emphasize activities to significantly reduce economic dependence on egg extraction.
Women in the program are able to gain knowledge and skills to facilitate operations of the egg collection on the beach and coordinate the management of hatchlings in the nursery. These activities are traditionally carried out by men, thus achieving an important change in the role women play in the conservation of sea turtles.
Continued funding for this women-led research project will support training, salary, infrastructure and equipment intended to provide a foundation for initiating ecotourism operations.
EMPOWERING LOCAL WOMEN
At the FCOLC, we strive to create better odds of survival for these beautiful marine animals while impacting the lives of local women. In the upcoming months our teams will continue to relocate, monitor, release, begin to tag and collect data on thousands of sea turtles ensuring the program continues successfully.
We will continue to foster environmental awareness and instill conservation ethics among more local communities and tourists, while allowing all participants to be trained and assist in marine preservation activities. Our goal is to increase our impact even further and expand our program to other locations in Nicaragua and around the world, including Florida and the Maldives, among others.