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First volunteers, hawksbill sea turtles, opening of the sea turtle nursery, and much more…

By Hansel Herrera Vargas

The 2013 volunteer season began in the month of July and it seems good times are on their way…

With so many volunteers on the calendar, dozens of sea turtles arriving on our beaches, and the hard work of the field assistants and interns, Osa Conservation is opening its doors and is beginning the 2013 volunteer season.  The first volunteers arrived last Friday and during a patrol had the good fortune of finding one of the most precious visitors of the Osa Peninsula.  On Sunday night a hawksbill turtle(Eretmochelys imbricate) visited Piro beach to carry out its ritual reproductive magic.  Almost three years have passed since the last sighting of a hawksbill on this beach.

This caused the joy of field assistants and volunteers who knew the grave danger this species was putting itself up against. The hawksbill turtle is one of the seven species of sea turtle that inhabits the waters of all oceans in the world.  It is characterized by overlapping shields on its shell (instead of contiguous shields found in other species) and for having the most colorful and beautiful shell of all the species of sea turtle.  Unfortunately, its beauty is also its misfortune because its shell has historically been used for jewelry making, remedies, and decoration.  The indiscriminate capture of hawksbill sea turtles has caused their global population to decline by more than 80%(Meyland and Donnelly, 1999).  Currently the hawksbill turtle is considered a Critically Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN). The finding of this turtle coincided perfectly with the opening of the opening of the sea turtle nursery on Piro Beach.  Therefore, the clutch(eggs) of this hawksbill turtle was the first of the 2013 season to be relocated to the Osa Conservation nursery.  This nursery is a conservation tool and an opportunity to educate the community about the importance of protecting these beautiful animals and their habitats.

We hope that more volunteers visit us for the rest of the season to be a part of the conservation efforts of marine turtles at the mystical Osa Peninsula.  For more information about this project or other volunteer projects, write us an email to volunteer@osaconservation.org.