To protect nesting females ( in particular hawksbill turtles) and their eggs from poachers, we are conducting nightly patrols throughout the nesting season. We stay with the females until she has returned to the water and we relocate their nests to safer spots if necessary and camouflage those nests that are left natural. We mark each turtle (except the hatchlings) with flipper tags and if funds allow, internal passive transponder tags (PITs) to estimate population size and we further collect data on the reproductive output and health of the population. At the end of each nesting season, we are excavating the nests that were laid and estimate the hatching success and the numbers of hatchlings (babies) produced.
To study the sea turtles that are feeding in the coral reefs and seagrass beds within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, we conduct in-water surveys throughout the year. We use entanglement nets or hand-captures to catch sea turtles. We then mark them and measure them before we release them back into the water.
To study the in-water movements of our sea turtle populations, we apply satellite transmitters to a subset of individuals (nesting females and turtles captured in-water) to follow their travels during the nesting season, as well as post-nesting and on their feeding migrations.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION & CAPACITY BUILDING
To guarantee the safety of sea turtles and their eggs and prevent their poaching in future, we want to achieve a true cultural change in the way how local communities think of sea turtles and how they interact with them. To accomplish this, we are engaging in environmental education of the next generation and are also organising capacity building activities to encourage different ways of income.
To create alternative income for the communities of Gandoca and Manzanillo, and to discourage the exploitive use of sea turtles, we support touristic activities related to sea turtles (tours and volunteering), as well as ecotourism related to community development and agriculture.