Sea turtle nesting season is now in full swing...
Sea turtle nesting season is now in full swing...

Sea turtle nesting season is now in full swing at the La Flor Wildlife Refuge in the Paso del Istmo. Olive ridley sea turtles are gathering in large groups offshore. When the right environmental cues signal them to come ashore, thousands of female turtles will land on the beach and lay their eggs. Anywhere between 5,000 and 30,000 turtles may nest in a three day period. This is one of the most extraordinary nesting events in the natural world and the La Flor Wildlife Refuge is one of only a handful of sites in Latin America where it occurs.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Nicaraguan army work to protect the nests on the main beach at the La Flor Wildlife Refuge. Paso Pacifico sea turtle rangers play an important role at safeguarding nests at three neighboring beaches which also receive turtles from these events. Our rangers patrol these beaches 24 hours a day, helping to prevent poaching and collecting important biological data.  At the same time Paso Pacifico’s female rangers work with the communities in Ostional and El Coco to move solitary nests to hatcheries.

Endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles are also arriving on the shores of the Paso del Istmo during these summer months, though they are solitary nesters. These species are extremely rare and are a conservation priority. Recent research from our partners at ICAPO indicates that the hawksbill turtles nesting on beaches in the Paso del Istmo are genetically distinct and need strong protection. The conservation surrounding the La Flor Wildlife Wildlife Refuge by our team of community rangers is supported through generous grants from a range of donors and partners including the IADB Multi-Lateral Investment Fund, Billion Baby Turtles, USFS-IITF, and the Woodtiger Fund.

“El Niño” is the name for the periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This warming event occurs every 3-7 years and dramatically shifts global weather patterns. Recent computer modeling is predicting a greater than 95% chance of strong El Niño conditions this coming year and a 60% chance that this will be the strongest El Niño on record.
Typically, during El Niño conditions the majority of Central America experiences below average levels of precipitation. These changes also affect the region’s ocean productivity for sea life. The reproductive success of leatherback sea turtles has historically suffered during these conditions. We are working with local communities to share the news of this climate event and to help them prepare for the possible drought, hoping to minimize the impacts on local families and to avoid additional pressure on the region’s flora and fauna.

Since 2007, Parque Marítimo El Coco has been a generous and supportive partner in protecting sea turtles and supporting the local community with training and economic opportunities. Through this collaboration Paso Pacifico’s rangers have built and now manage a sea turtle nursery at the hotel site. This sea turtle nursery has been very effective at protecting sea turtles, last year over 8,882 were released to the sea. In particular, we are grateful to Rodolfo Chåvez Våsquez, the manager at El Coco, who has been especially supportive. He has maintained a keen interest in our sea turtle conservation projects and much of our work at El Coco can be attributed to his interest and enthusiasm.
Over the years, the hotel and its staff have been gracious hosts to our many visiting rangers, researchers, and staff. It is worth noting that El Coco also actively supports and participates in our local beach clean ups including the annual International Coastal Clean-up. Together with Parque Maritimo El Coco we continue to provide a safe haven for nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. We look forward to many years of continued partnership.
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Jairo Coronado has been working for us since 2007 in our sea turtle conservation program. He is a natural born leader and is always willing to take on new and challenging projects.

He has helped replicate our sea turtle conservation model at multiple beaches throughout the Paso del Istmo, including at partner hotels Aqua Wellness Resort and Rancho Santana. His comprehensive knowledge and expertise in sea turtle conservation make him a great ambassador for our organization. 

Thanks Jairo for your commitment to these amazing sea creatures.

We are grateful for the support we have received from the mayor’s office at Alcaldia San Juan del Sur, specifically from Vice Mayor Randall Granja. Randall oversees the environmental department of the municipality and has helped facilitate our relationship with a range of government entities. San Juan del Sur is the municipality that covers the western portion of the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor.
The vice-mayor takes the time to learn about the biodiversity issues affecting his city and its territory. He also is very receptive and frequently receives Paso Pacifico staff at his office to learn about our conservation programs. Recently, he and his staff effectively responded to illegal hunting of monkeys in the area. Through careful planning and promotion, he and his staff also demonstrate that they are keenly aware of the importance of the local ecosystems to tourism.  
The alliance we have forged with the local government greatly enables us to protect important wildlife species, empower local community members, and build the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor.  
Thank you Randall and the municipal government for your environmental commitment and leadership.
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