'Sea Turtle Rescue Nicaragua

Project Description

The project began very informally in 2009. We patrolled the beach during for two weeks during the early nesting season of the Olive Ridley and collected or bought ten clutches of eggs. These eggs were then relocated to a secure location approximately fifty (50) meters above the high tide line. The shape and depth of a natural nest was mimicked, and the area was fenced off for protection from predators. We did no record keeping during this year, but hatched and released approximately three hundred (300) hatchlings. Our fiscal outlay for the season was one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00). While we were pleased with our results, we felt that we needed to do more.

Enter an international group of people, Knut and Susan Nickol from Germany, two remarkable and compassionate travelers who fell in love with the Sea Turtles while on vacation. They returned to Germany and started a non-profit for the conservation of the Sea Turtles in Nicaragua (MSV Nicaragua, german website). In the next years Simone Nordheim joined the MSV team. With the combined assistance of these two groups the project was able to construct two viveros (hatcheries) and fund most of the operating expenses for the 2010 season.
The vivero locations were selected for their proximity to the beach and high tide line. In addition, these locations were situated on properties that were owned by people involved or committed to the project. The construction of the viveros was very simple, although labor intensive. First, the site was marked and the sand removed to a depth of about seventy-five cm. The sand was then sifted and roots and other plant material removed before replacing in the holes created. This was to prevent plant roots from infiltrating the eggs to be later placed.


Wooden posts were then placed around the perimeter of the viveros. Once the posts were positioned a course on synthetic fine screen netting was placed around the perimeter on the viveros at a depth of about seventy-five cm. This was to help prevent crabs and dogs from digging into the vivero and eating or otherwise molesting the eggs. A second and more course netting was then installed to further protect the eggs from predation. Finally, fifty centimeter square grids were installed using twine to mark nest locations.Â&xnbsp; Nests were placed in a checker board pattern grid, skipping every other sectioned off area to eliminate overcrowding of the hatchery. Two viveros were constructed with an overall capacity of one hundred twenty (120) nests.
Egg collection was accomplished by nightly beach patrols. Arturo, whom is the only full time paid employee of the project, walked the beach at night in search of nests and/or poachers. On some nights he walked up to eighteen kilometers collecting and purchasing eggs. On occasion, he was accompanied by volunteers. The second vivero got off to a poor start and did not recover. This was due to the remoteness of the location and our inability to directly manage the site.Â&xnbsp;Â&xnbsp; Overall, we collected forty-nine nests, for a total of four thousand six hundred forty-seven (4647) eggs. The first two clutches of eggs were stolen out of the vivero, reducing the number of incubating eggs to four thousand four hundred thirty-three (4433). After the theft, a guard was hired to protect the hatchery at night and a construction staff was on site to oversee during the day.
Since 2010 the project was always in change. Dennis went back to the US and Robert Rothrock took over in Nicaragua.

© 2016 Sea Turtle Rescue Nicaragua and MSV Nicaragua
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