It is very exciting times for those of us involved in protecting the giant sea turtle population in Nicaragua!
Several years ago, the Help Them Help Themselves foundation built a small turtle sanctuary together with the support of the Gran Pacifica Beach and Golf Resort. Our volunteers had big hearts, but modest beginnings. The first year we only had a few nests with eggs, but it was extremely rewarding to see the first eggs hatch with over 80 little baby turtles! Those babies have a 95% or better chance of survival when protected in the sanctuary versus as little as 2% in the wild.
The biggest issues for the survivability of the turtles are poachers. The eggs are a delicacy in the local culture and “Hueveros” (egg hunters) scan the beaches constantly for the giant turtles coming up out of the ocean to lay their eggs. Help Them Help Themselves works peacefully with the Hueveros by buying the eggs from them directly on the beach and bringing them to the sanctuary immediately. By doing this, the Hueveros will support the cause because they are still earning a living, but instead of selling the eggs at a market where they will ultimately be eaten, they are helping preserve the species for the future.
Help Them Help Themselves has received donations to help purchase the eggs and we very much appreciate your support. We also have several volunteers that visit us each year at Gran Pacifica and walk the beaches with us finding more nests and releasing the baby turtles when they hatch!
Over the years our turtle protection program has grown and this year we outgrew our sanctuary! So, with your support and with the donation of manpower and equipment from Gran Pacifica, Help Them Help Themselves is building a new sanctuary that is larger, more secure, and closer to the hotel area so more families can learn about these amazing creatures, and be part of bringing the turtle numbers back to sustainable levels.
Last year we had over 1,300 eggs in the sanctuary and we hope to find even more this year. That means that over one thousand Paslama (Olive Ridley), Hawksbill, and Leatherback giant sea turtles have a very good chance of survival! That makes us very excited, and it is so rewarding for everyone that has made it all possible. It’s particularly special because we know that, like salmon, turtles return to the beaches they were born on to lay their own eggs years from now. So someday we will be seeing the turtles we saved making their own nests here!
We look forward to a great year of saving turtles! We are already at over 600 eggs in our sanctuary, and Gran Pacifica and Help Them Help Themselves welcome you to come visit us and help save these endangered beautiful creatures. If you are unable to visit, but would like to help, please donate at www.HelpThemHelpThemselves.org or send an email to info@HelpThemHelpThemselves.org.