Sea Turtles, Jacinto Rodríguez-Murillo

Jacinto with participants in the June 2012 workshop, c. Guillermo Duran

On June 30, 2012, Jacinto Rodríguez-Murillo from the Water and Earth Foundation taught a sea turtle conservation and monitoring workshop in Pedasí. In this event, he explained that, “the sites of Isla Cañas and La Marinera are the only two massive nesting sites in Panama, and two of the nine places in the world where there are massive nestings of sea turtles. More than 10,000 sea turtles nested in a 600 m stretch of La Marinera beach last year. It is necessary to protect other beaches in the region so that this beach does not get saturated due to altered migrations of turtles that no longer find a plast to nest in other nearby beaches.”

The Azuero Earth Project organized this event in collaboration with the Pedasi Ecotourism Cooperative to train volunteers to lead monitoring runs on regional beaches. These runs will take scientific data to inform future conservation initiatives in the area. In Panama, there have been sightings of turtle species such as the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivaceae), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriácea), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). The Hawksbill and the Leatherback are in critical danger of extinction. “At the beginning of the last century, Panam became the second largest exporter of Hawksbill in the world,” mentioned Jacinto, “The original traditional combs worn with the pollera, a traditional dress,  were made out of Hawksbill shells.” Today, even through the extraction, sale and purchase of turtles and their eggs is prohibited, it is still traditional to eat turtle eggs and to use the Hawksbill shell to make the spurs used in cockfighting in Panama. “Right now,” commented Jacinto, ” Panama is in violation of the International Convention about sea turtles because of the case of Isla Cañas,” a site where turtle eggs are harvested. Among other dangers to sea turtles are the destruction of coastal habitats and light contamination on beaches. During the workshop, Jacinto recommended using red light and to avoid illuminating coastal zones with white light and to conserve coastal vegetation, “the turtles need that there is small forest along the beach given that that protects them from light, temperature fluctuations and erosion.”

The Tortugueños Pedasieños Turtle Monitoring group seeks to resolve the dangers to sea turtles through using the theoretical and practical training in this workshop to identify the species and characteristics of turtles that nest near Pedasi. For more information about this initiative please contact tortugaspedasi@gmail.com

Sea Turtle Presentation

Presentation on Monitoring and Nest Relocation Techniques in Sea Turtle Nesting Sites

Azuero Resource Center Sea Turtle Resources