20 Years of Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Work Down the Drain?

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling (photo: Alex Gaos)

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling (photo: Alex Gaos)

One of the causes of the near annihilation of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback sea turtle is egg poaching. In the 1970’s and 80’s poachers freely roamed some of the most important leatherback nesting beaches on the planet and illegally stole close to 100% of the eggs carefully buried there.

Costa Rica’s Leatherback National Park was formed by decree in 1991 and by law in 1995 to protect nesting leatherback females and their eggs. For almost 20 years the national park has offered a banner of protection.

With leatherbacks taking anywhere between 10 to 30 years to reach sexual maturity, it’s evident that we’re on the cusp of seeing the results of these long term conservation efforts. However, bill 17.383 currently being discussed in the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly proposes to downgrade the park to a national wildlife refuge and allow beachfront development inside the sea turtle nesting buffer zone along Playa Grande.

Approval of the bill will flush nearly 20 years of concerted conservation work down the drain.

Is this what we want to see happen? Are we willing to allow wealthy landowners who illegally bought property inside a national park get away with the practice and turn the Eastern Pacific’s most viable leatherback nesting beach into another affluent play pen for their avarice ridden, unsustainable antics?!?!

The following video “For All Time” is 20 years old. It addresses the need to create Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (Leatherback National Park). To get involved in the letter writing campaign to defeat bill 17.383 and save the park, please see the posting “Piles of support for Leatherback National Park” on September 15th.


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