The Pacific coast of Nicaragua is a favorite nesting site for four of the seven known sea turtle species. As a result, efforts to protect and preserve this useful area are crucial to the long-term conservation of the turtles.
One species of turtle that is particularly troubled is the Eastern Pacific Leatherback – whose populations have dropped from tens of thousands of nesting females 25 years ago, to less than one thousand today. Part of the problem involves the poaching of sea turtle eggs. Despite a ban put into place in October of 2005, turtle eggs are still widely offered in urban market centers in Nicaragua. This fact - along with deteriorating coastal habitats, by-catch fishing, and pollution - are taking their toll on the area’s marine turtle populations. Experts predict that leatherback turtles could become extinct in the Pacific within the next decade unless decisive, coordinated conservation action is taken immediately.
That’s where Fauna & Flora International (FFI) comes in. Since 2002, the organization has been developing an effective sea turtle conservation program that focuses on three main objectives - the monitoring and protection of Leatherback nesting beaches, involving locals in the management of hatcheries, and conducting annual aerial censuses over the Pacific coast. And it appears that these efforts are working. Prior to putting their plan into action, 100 percent of the leatherback nests were being poached, now it’s estimated that 80-100 percent of the nests are protected.
The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has supported FFI projects since 2005 and is pleased to promote its goal of protecting key leatherback sea turtle nesting beaches on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua.