Turtles

Sea turtles are large reptiles that have inhabited the Earth for approximately 70 million years. With small variations there are seven species of sea turtles that have reached our days and are divided into two large families: the Cheloniidae (with six species) and Dermochelyidae (with only one), the largest and most archaic sea turtles lacking a scaly carapace are the leatherback turtles. 

All of them make large migrations through our seas and oceans around the entire planet to get to nest in the tropics. 

Their life cycle is very complex and therefore they are even more vulnerable, as they go through a lot of different ecosystems with diverse hazards during their lives. 

They are reptiles, therefore they breathe through their lungs despite passing their life in the sea and they reproduce by eggs that will be incubated in the warm tropical sands without maternal care. 

The best time to spot and study sea turtles is on their nesting beaches, where they are also most vulnerable. In our beach of the Caribbean coast, , at the Refugio de vida silvestre Laguna Urpiano, we can observe up to four of the seven species that exist in the world, and we are one of the best beaches in America for leatherback turtle nesting (Dermochelys coriacea) the largest of all sea turtles. In addition, we can see the turtle loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the much appreciated hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). 

Despite having populated our seas and coasts for millions of years, it has been in the last decades when its population has decreased dramatically…. And you … are you going to be indifferent? 

Sea turtles are found at the base of the trophic chain, being the target of many predators. 

When the adult sea turtle comes out to nest it can be preyed upon by big cats, such as the jaguar, and during its life in the sea it can be attacked by sharks. However, the very high percentage of mortality occurs in the first stages. 

The nests on the beach can be infected by a large numbers of microorganisms, as well as plant roots or being dragged by the sea if they are not well placed. They are also predated or damaged by other coastal animals such as raccoons, iguanas, armadillos … When the lucky turtles get out, they will be victims of crabs, all kinds of birds, rodents … and when they finally reach the water they will not get rid of another type of coastal birds, which are good fishers, and an infinity of fish of all sizes. 

In spite of all this, they have managed to survive and maintain balance in their natural ecosystem … at least until the hand of man got in their way. 

Adult sea turtles on the high seas are frequently victims of the non-artisanal fishing gear that is ravaging our oceans. 

As if all this were not enough, they have to face the deep-rooted custom that exists practically in all the tropical countries that consume turtle eggs and, in some cases, also meat. 

And unsurprisingly, they are very affected by the climate change which modifies their migration patterns due to the increase in water temperatures, and emphasizes the loss of coastal areas where they can nestle, because they have been abused by urban development. 

At Refugio de vida silvestre Laguna Urpiano, our grain of sand for the conservation of the species of sea turtles has as scenario the most vulnerable part of its complex life cycle: the birth. 

Although the survival rate is one in a thousand baby sea turtles, our mission is to release the largest number of baby turtles by reintroducing an essential link to the trophic chain of our oceans. 

We also continue with our educational work for environmental awareness so important in the communities.  

Year after year we introduce the local population into conservation work and together we try to save as many sea turtle nests as possible to incubate them and protect them in a controlled area until the release of the new-borns. 

We work for our turtles and the other programs at the Refugio de vida silvestre Laguna Urpiano for a better world in harmony with the fragile planet where we live. Would you join the adventure?