"The Saving Race"for Turtles on the Caribbean!
About 2 weeks ago I was walking along our beach Playa Grande which extendes more than 40 km, most of it wild jungle and now and then some houses along the way, til it arrives in Limon, the big port of Costa Rica.
I came across several groups of nests, 8 in all each with 3-5 nests, of the great Baula (leatherback) turtles. It was amazing and I was so happy to see that these prehistoric gigantic gentle giants were coming to our beaches to lay their eggs! Or should I say their beaches, of course :) I was also sad and worried knowing this also attracted the poachers. Turtle eggs are much valued here as a tasty food and sell at a good price. It is also how this Caribbean coast was settled, when the Jamaicans came to hunt for the turtles, for their shells and meat. They would set sail from Jamaica every year and stay the length of the turtle season. Eventually they started to settle and live indefinitely here. Then, there were thousands of turtles and very few humans, the game was more fare and balanced than it is now. That was in the turn of the century. Now the Baula turtle is on the International Endangered Specis list and with reason.
The poachers, mostly locals, have taken the eggs as their tradition and their right. However it has become a big profitable money business as well. Many of these people are poor families from which these eggs provide a little income and food for their families. Others, the illegal poachers, profit and empty all the nests completley to sell them illegaly on the black market. I understand and feel for these families who are in need, but I also feel for the turtles with all my heart & soul that they MUST be protected and helped! Last year I had witnessed the same thing and felt the same way, but didn't know what to do. This year I still didn't know what to do, but knew we had to do something and soon! So I asked my neighbours of Playa Grande to come to my place for a meeting. They did, the ones that could, the ones that wanted to, others didn;t think to seem it worthwhile. I am sad for these ignorant people who do not realize that we share this land, this planet Earth with all living things and it is our duty to protect whom and whatever when needed, especially when it is us as humans doing the damage in the first place! We have a hope, a dream, that through education we can teach the ignorant ones and also start in the schools with the children who naturally feel attracted to animals and nature. For families in need who have the tradition to take the eggs, to offer them other ways to create an income for their families. Instead of hunters , they become protectors of these beautiful animals. The coast will need guards, guides and other jobs to protect and help the turtles. We not only have the leather back turtles, but 2 other types as well, that nest along our coast through out the year.
So we came together as a group to save the turtles of Cahuita & Playa Grande. The first name we chose "Tortuga Cahuita Rescue" but Lexi my daughter who is in Graphic Design and advertising came up with "The Saving Race"! Together thesavingrace sounds like the saving grace. A catchy phrase and idea for a turlte who looks like he has race tracks on his back, there is urgency in the name with the word "race" All put together sounds original, catchy, you won't forget it!Or I hope not anyways!
Ou goal to save & protect the turtles. How? Through help of the Costa Rican goverment and International Organizations already in place, Costa Rican organizations already in place (just not here) a volunteer system, guards, guides, biologists. Create funds from donations & organizations for all this to happen. To change the mind set of the community and create other jobs as sources of income for them. Educate in the school through talks given by biologists, enviromentalist, zoologist, marine biologists etc... All rather daunting and so few of us ready to commit. Is this project going to die before ever taking off? I dont know and won't think about it for the moment. When some say they don't have the time, frankly neither do I, but I believe it is important that we do make the time. If no one has the time to save the planet in what ever small way they can, well, there just won't be any planet worth saving one day. Are we that egoist and that stupid that we really want to hurt ourselves that way? I think we just need to start, each little step forward will make a difference and could make a big difference to the survival of these gentle giants, 3 largest reptile in the world, coming from their prehistoric relatives of over 110 million years ago. They survived all this time, and us little humans are going to wipe them out now? Really? Not if we can do anything about it! I will keep posting here of our progress and hopefully soon have a web site and Facebook up and running for "The Saving Race"
The Race has begun!