¡Hola, amigos! This weekend I went with my Sustainable Development class to Ostional Wildlife Refuge to volunteer and learn about the conservation of sea turtles on Ostional Beach.
Although it took six hours to get there and the last hour was on the bumpiest dirt road, this weekend was well worth the trip! Ostional is a small little beach town made up of some of the kindest people you will ever meet. They have such a sense of community, and the sea turtle conservation project has helped them become even more tight-knit. We helped the community clean the beach Saturday morning at 6 a.m. by picking up sticks and logs to make a safe path for the turtles to lay their eggs. It was beautiful to see what a large group of people can do when we are all working together!
At nights, we would patrol the beach and look for sea turtles. Unfortunately, during the dry season there are not a lot of turtles. The “arribadas,” or “great turtle arrivals,” are most common in the rainy season, where up to 50,000 turtles can come per week! There are only eight places on earth where these arribadas happen, and Ostional is the number one spot for them! It was such a privilege to be a part of this experience and see a turtle lay nearly 200 eggs in one night! They are beautiful animals and I am so thrilled that the community is coming together to care for them.
One current “hot topic” in their community is the collection of the sea turtle eggs for sale. Ostional is for the sale of the turtle eggs as long as it is in the first few days of the arribada. An astonishing 70-90% of turtles are never even born, and a lot of this is due to overcrowding and turtles digging up old nests when they come to bury their own. For this reason, community members collect eggs the first few days. They say this does not make a large impact on the turtle population. In fact, although there are thousands of eggs collected, it is still a minuscule amount compared to the total number of eggs laid on the beach. This provides a steady income for families in the area allowing them to make an average of $70 extra per month. Pregnant woman and the elderly can get a share of the egg profits, and 30% of the eggs go to help with social needs, such as the local elementary school or nursing home.
I am so thankful to be a part of this experience and to learn more about the sea turtles and the people of Ostional!
Written by Taylar Miller, Social Media Journalist