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Sea Turtle Conservation/Research Projects in Central America

Requested by

Littlefeet Environmental

Who are you trying to help? What issue are you trying to address?

As a British-based non-profit NGO, Littlefeet Environmental is looking to conserve various sea turtle populations including Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles in the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Our initiative is to work with locals and receive contributions from other volunteers to ensure the safety and security of both sea turtles and their nests on beaches where there are currently no conservation regulations in place. If we neglect to put conservation regimes in place, almost all nests will be compromised for food and critically endangered sea turtle species may be harmed and even killed in the process.

We are trying to address the issue that global warming and unsustainable living practices are threatening an already critically endangered species. If we receive enough funding to initiate this project, there are a number of other countries where similar projects are needed such as Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

What is your project and how will it help?

Our research project can be achieved through three different methods: research, education and protection. The research that we will be completing will give us insight into the population numbers of each species and through nest monitoring and excavation we will be able to derive the rate of hatchling success within Banco Chinchorro as well. The research that we will be completing has a number of tasks to ensure that we acquire the most thorough database of information.

- Beach analysis will be the first major activity for the ecology project, as this is the region where most research and information will be collected. The amount of debris and the effects of climate change such as erosion and tidal flow first need to be documented so that we can assess the prime nesting areas of the beaches in Banco Chinchorro and improve the areas that are distressed. This will be achieved through weekly beach-clean ups done by researchers, locals and volunteers.
- Nightly beach patrols will be done every evening and will carry out into the early morning at sunrise. The ultimate goal of nightly beach patrols is to spot adult females as they are coming up on shore to lay their nests. However, night patrols are crucial in the protection of sea turtle species as poachers frequent the beaches later in the evenings.
- When nesting season begins, all adult females once onshore to nest, will need to be measured and tagged if they currently have no identification. All of the information collected will be documented on tracking sheets that will disclose the date and time of turtle spotting, species, tag numbers, measurements of carapace and records of abnormal markings, wounds or abrasions. If a nest is laid, the amount of both fertile and infertile eggs will be counted and documented as well. If a nest is laid on an inhospitable part of the beach, the nest will be moved to a safer location. We will then generate a three-point coordinate marking system with flagging tape that will allow us to find the nest once the gestation period has ended; we will then be able to initiate nest excavations. Tracking sheets are an organized way to compare information throughout nesting season. As the turtles migrate throughout various points on the globe, an international database of information collected by research projects, much like ours, will allow other researchers to keep “tabs” on tagged sea turtle when they are not in nesting season.

How can other people partner with you on your project?

Much like other NGO’s, our projects rely heavily on the assistance of volunteers and investments/donations from corporate organizations and grant agencies. We are searching for those interested in investing in our projects as very little funding is provided to NGO’s by the local Government until a thorough and stable database of information is collected; this information has to act as a viable resource to the conservation of a certain species within a country.

Please detail the resources that you need.

We require funding in a range from $2,000 – $6,000 USD. This money will be put towards the research supplies that we will be needing for documentation of both adult sea turtles and hatchlings. These materials include tags, log books, measuring tapes, flagging tapes and red flash lights. The funding will also be put towards providing food, accommodation and on-sight travel for volunteers and research assistants. Those volunteers will be responsible for providing their own means of travel to the destination (e.g. flights from their home countries).

Further information

Contact details

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Partnership types

Advocacy of global issues; Project funding

Regions / countries / territories

Americas: Guatemala; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama

Global issues

Environment and climate change


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