It´s always turtle season

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Lora turtle digging a nest to lay her eggs on the beach where she was born.

Lora turtle digging a nest to lay her eggs on the beach where she was born.

By Ursula Kiener Ford

Turtles do not, as we asked on Page 1, lay golden eggs. But for the tourism industry, they are a year-round nestegg for a tour opportunity. If one knows where to go, that is.

Tortuguias is a non-profit foundation that works to create awareness and educate about the importance of preserving the sea turtles. The foundation has conservation programs nationwide to repopulate the different species, as well as beach clean-up projects. In workshops they work with local communities and schools in an effort to promote a responsible use of coastal marine ecosystems and resources.

Sustainable tourism is a way to get these communities to obtain income without affecting the turtles. Tortutrips are tours to beaches for the visitor to see the process of turtle hatching and nesting in their natural environment. Visitors participate in a night watch of the beach to see the nesting of sea turtles, as well as relocating turtle nests to the nurseries. Learn about sea turtles: biology, life cycle, importance in the ecosystem, threats they face and conservation initiatives. The group will do a beach clean up and will visit tourist spots in the area.

From September to December Tortuguias will be doing a monthly trip the last weekend of each month.

Baby turtles on route to the Pacific Ocean.

Baby turtles on route to the Pacific Ocean.

Cost: is $100 per person (includes transportation, lodging, 3 meals a day and a specialized guide in sea turtles)

Dates: 27-29 of September, 26-27 of October, 23-24 November, 28-29 December

Location: Cambutal, province of Los Santos

Contact info: Gerardo Alvarez, cel: 6386-3735, gerardo.alvarez@tortuguias.org tortutrips@tortuguias.org

Facts about turtles:

  • If you know where to go it is possible to see turtles hatching all year in Panama
  • Peak season for the Caribbean: turtle nesting from April to July, turtle hatching from May to August-September
  • Peak season for the Pacific: turtle nesting from July to November, turtle hatching from August to December
  • It takes anywhere from 45 days- 2 months for sea turtle eggs to hatch, and most hatchings take place at night. If eggs hatch in the wild during the day, there is very small chance of the turtles making it to the ocean because of predators that populate the shores.
  • There are seven sea turtle species worldwide, and five of them lay their eggs in Panama. These species include: green, leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley and hawksbill. All of them are endangered species.
  • Sea turtles have been on earth for nearly 100 million years, truly modern dinosaurs.
  • The temperature of the eggs in a nest will determine the gender of the baby turtles.  Higher temperatures lead to a shorter incubation time, and mainly female offspring.
  • Humans are the greatest threat to sea turtles.  Every year turtles are caught in fishing nets, their eggs are poached for food, and lights on our coasts disorient and confuse turtles looking to lay their eggs.  Also, human trash on the beaches attracts non-natural predators of the baby turtles such as feral dogs and cats.

September is the month of the oceans in Panama

.Group participating in a Tortutrip at the conservation station La Marinera in Tonosí, Province of Los Santos.

.Group participating in a Tortutrip at the conservation station La Marinera in Tonosí, Province of Los Santos.

Healthy Oceans for Humanity” is the slogan of this year’s campaign to create consciousness about the importance of preserving our oceans. Each September Panama celebrates the Month of the Ocean uniting over 30 environmental, scientific, government, education and private organizations and institutions.

Human beings depend on the oceans to provide us with natural resources and services. Oceans cover almost three parts of the earth’s surface, contain nine out ten parts of our aquatic resources and over 97% of the living creatures of the planet. Oceans are the earth’s lungs absorbing approximately 25% of all the CO2 released by human activities.

The month-long campaign will organize activities during September which will involve the population. Organized activities include distribution of garbage bins at beaches nationwide, painting contest for children, poet encounters, a Fair of Science of the Sea, a competition for social communicators, conferences, contest of sand figures in Veracruz beach, underwater cleaning in Portobelo, triathlon in Coronado, the IX Forum “Healthy Oceans for humanity” and to conclude, the XXII nationwide cleaning of beaches, coasts and rivers.

For more information contact: mesdelosoceanos@yahoo.com.

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