Reserva Playa Tortuga
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center collaborates with a research and education center in Ojohcal, Costa Rica. After my Americorps position in Georgia I went to Reserva Playa Tortuga as the Field Project Coordinator.
Crocodile and caiman project
While at the GSTC I was trained in properly capturing crocodilian species and collecting tissue samples to support the caiman and crocodile project in Costa Rica. Crocodiles are poached for the meat in their tails and many times are killed with a machete to the head and then the tail is removed. In order to determine the status of the population ins southern Costa Rica we were capturing crocodiles and caiman by a mark recapture study with tail notching. In addition, rivers are often polluted from poor sanitation and trash disposal causing contamination from upriver down impacting wildlife and humans. To determine if the crocodiles are absorbing pollutants we used the tissue samples from the tail notching for contaminant analysis.
sea turtle project
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) visit the beach in Ojochal to lay their eggs. A large problem in Central America has been poaching the eggs to sell at markets. Sea turtles around the world are suffering from population declines. Due to the long maturation period of sea turtles it is important to protect the beaches to increase the number of sea turtles. Conservation programs for these species is important and thankfully occurring in many countries. Reserva Playa Tortuga has a beach camp for a team of technicians to monitor the beach round the clock. At night they patrol the beaches for nesting females. Once a female starts to lay, the eggs are collected and taken to the hatchery. There the eggs are put into a nest buried in a grid system to protect from poachers. Unfortunately, poachers also walk the beaches at night and if they manage to get to the nest first they take all the eggs. It is a tough and sometimes dangerous job but truly important in preserving this species. A few times the local grade school would come out to the beach during the day if the hatchery had baby sea turtles to release.