Posted by Rick Civelli | 02.06.2012 | Sea Turtle Camp News

Come Change the World in Costa Rica!

At Sea Turtle Camp, we’ve always been inspired by the change that students can create. Over the years we’ve watched students return home carrying a conservation message, and we’ve seen their grassroots campaigns flourish in their own community. This is why we are proud to have committed to a sea turtle cause in Costa Rica.

Parismina is a small village of 400-450 people located along the Caribbean Sea. It has long been isolated from the mainland by rivers and the ocean, and is accessible only by boat or plane. The people have long been supported by the ocean by fishing and, in the past, the sale of sea turtle eggs. However, over a decade ago the young people of Parismina banded together to literally create a sea change.

The students reached out to the Coast Guard to receive training on nest patrols and relocations. They then began to patrol the beaches nightly, from February with the start of the leatherback season through the fall with the mass nestings of the greens. They found more value in the beauty of a live sea turtle than in the profit of a stolen egg, and in doing so inspired a whole town.

In a town where everybody knows one another, the students already could identify the few individuals that were poaching the sea turtles. They were parents of friends or people that they saw in school or church. They felt that they could convince them to change their practices if they showed him the worth of protecting the leatherbacks, greens, and hawksbills that come to the area. Usually, all it took was one night out on the beach learning the importance of the nesting females to the entire village.

The initial collaboration of teenagers and the Coast Guard has grown into the community-based, non-profit conservation group known as Save the Turtles of Parismina. And as their organization has expanded through the community, so have their successes. Poaching has decreased by almost two-thirds and an astonishing 10,000 neonates are saved each year. As Save the Turtles of Parismina has grown they have continued their support of the community, and now support approximately one-third of the village.

While the work involves long nights, patrolling stretches of beaches by moonlight in small groups, the value of protecting the turtles is priceless. Once you’ve seen the first mother cresting in off the surf and pulling herself across the volcanic black sand, we’re sure you’ll agree.