Punta Banco Turtle Conservation Project
Running a conservation project as a foreigner at the end of the road in Costa Rica takes conviction, dedication, and service. All of these qualities I found in Astrid Van Egmond, a turtle activist from Holland.
Astrid has been working with the Punta Banco Turtle Conservation Project since 2014 and this current season has also taken on the management position at Rancho Burica. Astrid runs the turtle program from Rancho Burica, a beachfront Dutch owned cabina business offering affordable all-inclusive packages in front of a left-hander reef break.
As she was keen to immediately point out, Astrid could not be so successful without her team of local “Turtle Watchers” that she utilizes to help her efforts. A team of nightly beachcombers, local men, women, and traveling volunteers follow the ebb and flow of the tides searching for turtles and their nests.
Astrid is finding out how this small community quickly acts for a common cause. Currently, there are three turtle nurseries in Punta Banco. One is located in front of Tiskita’s private airstrip, another in front of the Punta Banco Supermarket and the third at Rancho Burica.
Thanks to local contributions, they are well equipped with radios and can react or respond at a moment’s notice. Turtle egg poaching is still happening.
Compared to total release numbers of 2014 (124 nests), the Team has more than doubled the number of turtles released in 2015 (260 nests) and still have two more months of nightly nest hunting to go. At the end of October 2015, more than 6,000 baby turtles have successfully been released. Most nesting on Punta Banco’s beautiful beaches is from the Olive Ridley turtles. However, in December the Green turtle also makes her way to our beaches to lay eggs. At the end of February, the last nested hatchlings will be released. July first will start the 2016 turtle nesting season.
There are several ways YOU can help! If you’d like to come down and join the momentum of saving these precious animals…and get some epic surf and nature at the same time, a small donation of $200 is all you need to stay a week at Rancho Burica, meals included.
Astrid only requires a few hours of daily work which would include videoing hatchling releases, keeping data (nest sites, the number of eggs, the number of hatchlings) and nightly nest searching. If you are unable to volunteer your time to this project, please follow the link below to help donate to the program.
Sponsoring a nest is a great way to help the program survive and the Turtle Watchers will mark your name in the nursery grid and video the release of your sponsored baby turtles with all of the data collected thanks to your support.
Astrid is unsure of her plans next year regarding staying in Costa Rica for such a lengthy time period but is concerned about the future of the Punta Banco Turtle Conservation Project. If you have the passion and are interested in a more permanent opportunity to stay in this beautiful corner of the planet, please drop us a line.